Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, left, and Columbus Blue Jackets' Zach Werenski chase the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
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It’s been a frustrating season for the Boston Bruins

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Patrice Bergeron is still doing most of the things that have made him a three-time Selke Trophy recipient.

He’s still playing great defense.

He’s still winning faceoffs at a ridiculously high rate.

He’s still playing good, solid hockey.

But the one thing he isn’t doing is scoring, and that’s had a sizable effect on the Boston Bruins’ record, which slid to 18-15-4 after last night’s 4-3 loss in Columbus.

In 34 games, Bergeron has just five goals and five assists. If he maintains that pace, he’ll finish the season with around 23 points — a far cry from the 68 he racked up last season, which included a career-high 32 goals.

“When you look at the players that [aren’t scoring goals], Bergy I think he has four or five goals, he had 30-something last year,” head coach Claude Julien said earlier this month, per CSN New England. “Things are going to come around.”

Julien has to hope so.

And to be fair, Bergeron is still getting his shots on goal. For whatever reason, they just aren’t going in. His shooting percentage last season was 11.3. It’s currently languishing at 4.3.

“There are lots of shots that I wouldn’t change a thing on those shots,” said Bergeron. “I’ve got to keep taking them and they’re going to go in.”

He isn’t the only B’s forward in that predicament. Riley Nash (1.9%), Jimmy Hayes (3.8%), and Matt Beleskey (4.5%) have all struggled to convert. Last night, Nash registered four shots on Sergei Bobrovsky without beating the Blue Jackets’ goalie. The Bruins ended up outshooting Columbus, 40-22, marking the 10th time they’d lost a game in regulation despite outshooting their opponent. 

In fact, the B’s sit dead last in the NHL with a team shooting percentage of 6.8.

Compare that to the New York Rangers, who lead the league at 11.3 percent, and it gets easier to understand why the Rangers (24-12-1) have a better record than the B’s, despite the Rangers having far worse possession stats.

Score-adjusted Corsi, per Puck On Net
Bruins: 54.5 (1st)
Rangers: 47.8 (22nd)

Though it wasn’t applicable last night, the Bruins are also a disappointing 7-3-1 when they hold a lead after the first period.

“It’s heartbreaking, sometimes, how hard we work, and how we’re not capable of extending leads,” Julien told reporters after Friday’s 3-2 OT loss in Carolina, where the B’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead they couldn’t protect. “You play well enough that you deserve to win, but somehow, because you’re not capable of extending your lead a little bit more, and discouraging the other team, they give them hope to come back in the game.”

The Bruins are still in a playoff spot, but with Tampa Bay, Florida and even Toronto capable of going on a run, they aren’t comfortable by any means. The B’s have just three wins in their last 11. They play in Buffalo Thursday before their rematch with the Sabres Saturday at TD Garden.

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Pastrnak, Vatrano expected to return for Bruins tonight

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 7: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins skates prior to the game against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on March 7, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Expect to see David Pastrnak and Frank Vatrano in the Boston Bruins’ lineup tonight in Florida against the Panthers.

Pastrnak took line rushes this morning with his regular mates, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, while Vatrano was with Austin Czarnik and Riley Nash on the third line.

Pastrnak, the Bruins’ leading goal-scorer (19), has missed two games after undergoing an elbow procedure Friday.

“I feel good. The trainers did a good job. I’m back and I feel good,” Pastrnak said yesterday, per the Bruins’ website. “It’s always tough to watch games from the top. You want to play and you don’t want to spend any time injured. I’m happy I’m back on the ice. I missed two games, it could be worse. Always can be worse, so happy I’m back.”

Vatrano was recently recalled from a conditioning stint in the AHL. He’s yet to play an NHL game this season, after the 22-year-old was forced to undergo offseason surgery to repair torn ligaments in his foot.

The Bruins (17-14-3) could certainly use a couple of goal-scorers. They’ll enter tonight’s game with the league’s 25th-ranked offense, and are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday.

 

Hayes goal, Rask shutout lift Bruins over Kings

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 12:  Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on December 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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BOSTON (AP) Jimmy Hayes scored the game’s only goal, Tuukka Rask made 18 saves and the Boston Bruins beat the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Sunday.

Hayes’ goal was his first in seven games and only his second in 28 games this season.

Rask recorded his fourth shutout of the year for the Bruins (17-13-1), who had lost two straight games and five of six coming in.

Boston was without leading scorer David Pastrnak, who had right elbow surgery Friday. Pastrnak’s 19 goals rank second in the NHL behind Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (21).

Peter Budaj had 29 saves for the Kings (16-13-2), who won their previous two games. Los Angeles was outshot 30-18.

Colin Miller‘s wrister from the top of the right circle caught a piece of Hayes’ stick and zipped past Budaj 4:20 into the opening period. Hayes was initially credited with an assist on Miller’s goal, but the call was changed. Dominic Moore also assisted on the goal.

Hayes has gone 45 games without an assist dating to last Feb. 22. He is three points shy of 100 for his career.

Kyle Clifford went to the locker room with 16:36 remaining in the third after taking a hit from the Bruins’ Adam McQuaid while chasing a puck in the corner. He returned later in the period.

Bruins’ Pastrnak likely to miss next two games after elbow procedure

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 20:  David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins skates against New Jersey Devils during the third period at TD Garden on October 20, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Devils 2-1.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Boston Bruins are expected to be without David Pastrnak, their top forward this season, for at least the next two games after he underwent an elbow procedure on Friday.

“David underwent a successful removal of the olecranon bursa from his right elbow on Friday, December 16 at Newton Wellesley Hospital by Dr. Matthew Liebman,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said in a statement on Saturday morning. “He will likely be unavailable for the games on Sunday and Tuesday. His condition will be re-assessed on a day-to-day basis.”

The Bruins are home against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and then host the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

After that they go on the road for a four-game road trip.

While the rest of the Bruins offense has struggled this season, Pastrnak has shined with 19 goals in only 27 games. That goal total not only leads the Bruins (nobody else on the team has more than nine goals at this point) but is also second best in the NHL behind only Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. With 26 total points he has already matched his point total from the 2015-16 season (it took him 51 games to reach that mark a year ago) and is only one point away from matching his career high.

He has already shattered his previous career high in goals (15 in 51 games a year ago).

He missed some time earlier this season due to an upper body injury.

Khudobin hasn’t solved the Bruins’ backup goalie problem

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (2) celebrates after scoring against Boston Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (35) on a breakaway in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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When we last checked in on Anton Khudobin, he’d just delivered an encouraging performance for the Boston Bruins, stopping 29 of 30 shots in a 2-1 shootout victory over Carolina.

Unfortunately for Khudobin and the B’s, his last two starts have been decidedly discouraging. Last Thursday, he allowed four goals on 22 shots in a 4-2 loss to Colorado, and last night, it was four goals on 27 shots in a 4-3 loss to Anaheim.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing. I’m not really happy,” said the 30-year-old netminder, per WEEI in Boston. “But I’m not going to put my head down and say that I’m done.”

With last night’s loss, Khudobin’s record fell to 1-5-0 with an .882 save percentage. In stark contrast, Tuukka Rask is 15-5-3 with a .930 save percentage.

After missing the playoffs the past two seasons with Niklas Svedberg and Jonas Gustavsson in the backup role, the Bruins were hoping for much better from Khudobin, who played so well for them in 2013, when he went 9-4-0 with a .920 save percentage.

Read more: ‘Really happy’ to be back in Boston, Khudobin will be key for Bruins

But signing him to a two-year, $2.4 million contract was a gamble by GM Don Sweeney, considering Khudobin had struggled in his previous two NHL seasons, going a combined 11-20-6 with a .902 save percentage for Carolina and Anaheim. He spent most of last season in the AHL.

In case you’re wondering, there is no great third option behind Rask and Khudobin. Zane McIntyre has been good in the AHL, but he’s 0-2-0 with an .859 save percentage for the big club. Malcolm Subban, a first-round draft pick in 2012, doesn’t even have good AHL numbers this season (2-6-5, .903), lest we forget his two disastrous NHL starts, neither of which he finished.

So it may be up to Rask to carry the B’s into the playoffs. Boston is currently three points clear of Tampa Bay for third place in the Atlantic, but the Bolts have two games in hand.