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NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Lightning vs. Bruins; Oilers vs. Kings

The NHL on NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 season with a doubleheader on Tuesday. First, The Boston Bruins will host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:00 p.m. ET. To watch that game online, click here

Well, regular-season games don’t get much bigger than this one. The Lightning are in must-win mode if they want a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’ll enter tonight’s game trailing the Bruins by four points (the Bolts have a game in hand) for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. There’s no getting around it, this game is huge.

“It’s down to win or go home,” defenseman Anton Stralman said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s Game 7.

“We’ve still got a chance — that’s all we can ask for. We believe.”

Even if the Lightning win their last four games of the season, that doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. They’ll need a little help along the way because Boston, Ottawa (four points ahead) and Toronto (five points ahead) all have more regulation/overtime wins.

The good news, is that the Bolts will get a crack at Boston tonight and they’ll face Toronto on Thursday.

But beating either team, especially the Bruins, won’t be simple. Since dropping a 6-3 decision to the Lightning in late March, Boston has won five games in a row. If you think the winning streak has made the Bruins forget their terrible performance in that game, guess again.

“It was one of those games where we didn’t show up and they took advantage of that,” center Patrice Bergeron said, per the Boston Herald. “We definitely know how they play and how good they are offensively in their transition and whatnot. We have to build from what we’ve done this weekend.”

Bruce Cassidy’s team should be feeling pretty good about themselves. Not only are they four points up on the Bolts for the final Wild Card spot, but they’re inching closer to a top three spot in the Atlantic Division.

A regulation win over the Bolts would see the Bruins clinch a playoff spot. Pretty simple.

In the late game, it’ll be the Los Angeles Kings hosting the Edmonton Oilers at 10:30 p.m. ET. To watch that game online, click here

For the first time in 11 years, the Oilers will be heading to the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean their work this season is over.

Edmonton still has plenty to play for. Believe it or not, an Oilers will in regulation or overtime combined with a Ducks loss to Calgary in regulation would put Edmonton in first place in the Pacific Division.

Obviously, Connor McDavid is the biggest reason for Edmonton’s turnaround this season, but they’ve also received strong contributions from goalie Cam Talbot, Leon Draisaitl and quite a few others.

McDavid and Draisailt, in particular, have been terrific. Both players enter tonight’s game riding 10-game point streaks. It seems like stopping this duo is nearly impossible.

“There’s a camaraderie between the two, they’ve grown up in the organization and they look out for each other and I think they enjoy being with one another. That gives them extra time to communicate on the ice,” said head coach Todd McLellan, per the Edmonton Sun.

“Connor’s speed and Leon’s passing ability, you’ve got Leon who can slow the game down and Connor who speeds it up. That makes it tough for the opposition to judge what’s coming at them.”

Both players might not have any playoff experience, but facing them in the opening round won’t be a treat.

In the last three seasons, the Kings have made the post-season just once (they were bounced in the first round). Their lack of winning and inability to score goals has some people wondering if it’s time to give Darryl Sutter his walking papers this off-season.

Sure, the Kings had to deal with Jonathan Quick going down to injury in the first game of the season, but scoring goals was always an issue this season, and that didn’t change on Sunday, when a 2-1 loss to Arizona officially crushed their playoff hopes.

It’s also pretty clear that Anze Kopitar was one of the bigger disappointments this season. Through 72 games, the Kings captain has just 12 goals and 49 points.

“I can’t talk about that right now. It’s definitely too early,” Kopitar said of what his team was lacking this season, per LA Kings Insider. “You can really go down the list. It certainly didn’t help (Quick) going down the first game, and then we just had too many stretches of not playing remotely good enough, and obviously the losses kept piling on. I think coming back after the breaks we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. A lot of guys, I think, with me being on top of that list, I don’t think the production was there the way we expect from ourselves and from each other, and you can go on and on right now. But like I said, it’s a very empty feeling.”

Bruins sign Boston University product Forsbacka Karlsson to entry-level deal

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The Boston Bruins got some work done today, both on and off the ice.

After beating the Chicago Blackhawks to extend their winning streak to five games and increase their chances of securing a playoff spot, the Bruins announced the signing of 20-year-old forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, who had spent the last two years at Boston University.

It’s a three-year entry-level deal for Forsbacka Karlsson, a right-shooting center who is expected to join the Bruins during the upcoming week, according to the club.

Originally selected in the second round, 45th overall, in the 2015 NHL Draft, Forsbacka Karlsson had 14 goals and 33 points in 39 games during his sophomore season with the Terriers.

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.