Bruins top Blackhawks, extend winning streak to five

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The Boston Bruins are back on a roll again.

Thanks to a close 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon, the Bruins were able to extend their current winning streak to five games in a row and moved into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division, jumping ahead of both the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.

While the win itself doesn’t actually clinch a playoff spot for the Bruins, it certainly puts them in a great position to earn one of the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference. They are now six points clear of the Tampa Bay Lightning with one massive head-to-head matchup remaining on Tuesday night.

On Sunday the Bruins were able to jump out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from Ryan Spooner and Patrice Bergeron. For Bergeron it continued what has been a pretty fantastic two-month stretch for him offensively as he has averaged more than a point per game since the start of February. It also completed a pretty successful weekend that saw him score three goals in the Bruins’ two wins.

After Artemi Panarin cut the deficit in half for Chicago late in the second period, Boston’s Kevan Miller scored his third goal of the season midway through the third period for what would go on to be the game-winner.

The real star of the game for Boston though may have been backup goaltender Anton Khudobin as he turned aside 41 of the 43 shots he faced to pick up a win in his sixth consecutive start. His late season surge has been a pretty significant turnaround for him after losing six of his first seven starts of the season.

His performance on Sunday was perhaps his best of the year as his 41 saves represented a season high.

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks

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The Boston Bruins are going for their fifth win in a row and trying to get two points closer to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Chicago Blackhawks, having already wrapped up everything in the Western Conference, are trying to remain one of the hottest teams in the league and catch the Washington Capitals in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.

They have been two of the best offensive teams in the league over the past two months and they will try to accomplish both of the aforementioned goals when they meet on Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

All of the action can be seen on NBC, or on our live stream, starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Click here for the Live Stream

Preview: Bruins go for fifth win in a row against Blackhawks

NHL on NBC: Bruins visit Blackhawks, go for fifth win in a row

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NBC’s coverage of the 2016-17 NHL season continues on Sunday afternoon with the Boston Bruins visiting the Chicago Blackhawks.

Puck drop is set for 12:30 p.m. ET and all of the action can be seen on NBC as well as our Live Stream.

Both teams have plenty to play for on Sunday as the Bruins are not only looking for the fifth win in a row after knocking off the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon, but are also looking to continue to solidify their playoff position. After all of Saturday’s results the Bruins still occupy the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, remaining four points clear of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the wild card race and only one point back of both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division. With both Toronto and Ottawa off on Sunday, Boston could find itself in the No. 2 spot in the division with a win over the Blackhawks.

Boston still has games remaining against both Ottawa and Tampa Bay, before wrapping up their season at home against the Washington Capitals. Combined with Sunday’s game against Chicago that is a pretty tough schedule the rest of the way.

While the Blackhawks’ situation isn’t quite as dramatic as Boston’s when it comes to the playoff race (the Blackhawks have already clinched a playoff spot as well as the Central Division crown and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference) they are still in serious contention for the Presidents’ Trophy, sitting just three points back of the Capitals entering Sunday.

It was right around the start of February when the Blackhawks season really started to take off, having gone 20-4-2 since Feb. 1.

During that stretch the Blackhawks have won more games than any team in the league, outscored teams by a 92-64 margin, while they have three of the league’s top-15 scorers (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Artemi Panarin) during that stretch.

But the Bruins have been equally impressive offensively since then, averaging more than 3.6 goals per game while Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron have also been among the league’s top scorers. Marchand is just one goal away from making a little bit of Bruins history as his next one will be his 40th of the season. Only two Bruins have topped the 40-goal mark since 1993 (Glen Murray in 2002-03, Bill Guerin in 2001-02) and only 13 others have done it all-time.

In other words, these are two of the hotter teams in the NHL right now, the two absolute best offensive teams over the past two months, and they will be putting some high end individual talent on the ice on Sunday.

Marchand scores 39th goal as Bruins top Panthers

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The Boston Bruins picked up two huge points in their pursuit of a playoff spot on Saturday afternoon with a rather convincing 5-2 win over the collapsing Florida Panthers.

Patrice Bergeron scored a pair of goals in the win, while Brad Marchand was able to get one goal closer to the 40-goal mark when he scored his 39th of the season late in the third period to help put the game away.

Even the score remained close for much of the game (the Bruins pulled away with a couple of late goals) this was a pretty one-sided matchup as the Bruins dominated the game territorially and held a commanding edge on the shot chart through the first two periods. Late in the second period a costly turnover by Panthers goalie Reto Berra pretty much handed David Krejci his 23rd goal of the season for what would go on to be the game-winning goal.

Not the way you want to play that if you are an NHL goalie.

As for Marchand, his monster season for the Bruins continued as he added to his career-high in goals to keep him in second place on the NHL goal scoring leaderboard, currently trailing Sidney Crosby by four goals. Marchand needs just one goal over the Bruins final four games to become just the 14th different Bruin to score 40 goals in a season. He would be the first to do it since Glen Murray during the 2002-03 season. Only one other Bruin (Bill Guerin in 2001-02) has topped 40 since the 1992-93 season. Since the start of the 2015-16 season Marchand’s 76 goals are tied for the fourth most (Vladimir Tarasenko) in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin (83), Patrick Kane (80), and Sidney Crosby (79).

The win gives Boston 90 points in the standings and for the time being (pending the result of Saturday night’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings) moves them to the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. They are also just one point back of the Ottawa Senators.

For the Panthers, well, this one just continues a late season slide that has been the perfect ending to a woefully disappointing season. Since sweeping a five-game west coast road trip in Mid-February that seemed as if it could have been a turning point in their season, the Panthers are just 5-14-1 in the 20 games that have followed.

Brad Marchand leads the way for another crucial Bruins victory

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There was good news and, well, some not so good news for the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Brad Marchand, as he’s done throughout this season, led the Bruins offensive attack versus the Dallas Stars, scoring the opening goal and assisting on Torey Krug‘s power play goal in the second period.

Marchand’s goal gives him 38 this season, which is the highest single season total for a Bruins player since Glen Murray in 2002-03. It also puts Marchand four goals back of Sidney Crosby for the league lead.

The Bruins won, shutting down the Stars by a final score of 2-0. Tuukka Rask made 27 saves for the shut out.

The win keeps the Bruins moving in the right direction as they look to lock up a playoff position — either the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, or perhaps a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division. The latter is still very much a possibility.

The New York Islanders had a horrendous start against the Philadelphia Flyers and it was costly, as they lost 6-3, meaning they fall six points behind Boston.

However, the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning, two teams chasing and still within striking distance of the Bruins in the wild card race, both won Thursday. The Hurricanes came back to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime, while the Bolts had a nice offensive outburst in the second period on their way to defeating the Detroit Red Wings.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were also victorious Thursday, so they retain third in the Atlantic, one point better than Boston.

The Bruins are three points up on Tampa Bay and four points up on Carolina. Both the Bolts and Hurricanes have a game in hand on Boston.

Meanwhile, there was a scary moment late in the Bruins-Stars game. Curtis McKenzie was rushed off the ice, clutching the right side of his face as blood dripped to the ice, after being clipped by a high stick from Kevan Miller off a faceoff.

Miller was assessed a double minor for high sticking on the play.