BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 07:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins carries the puck in front of a stickless Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins in the second period during the game at TD Garden on December 7, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Bruins vs. Penguins; Flyers vs. Avalanche

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2016-17 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Wednesday night. It all gets going at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins. You can watch the game online by clicking here

The Boston Bruins came into this week having lost three straight games, but they managed to put together a solid effort in Monday’s 2-1 overtime win in Montreal.

Despite the low goal total, that was arguably one of the most physical and entertaining games of the season so far.

“As a team, it was a good response (given) what our trend had been, losing three straight and knowing we were up against a tough opponent,” David Backes said, per the Boston Herald. “The guys were engaged, battling for each other, standing up for each other. You like to see that character come out.”

It took a total team effort to knock off the Habs, and the Bruins will need more of the same tonight.

The Penguins are the top team in what is looking like the best division in hockey. Pittsburgh’s won six straight games and they’re currently sitting atop the Metropolitan with a 19-7-3 record (12-2-1 at home).

By now, you may have heard about this guy, Sidney Crosby, who’s lighting the lamp at a crazy pace.

The Pens captain missed the first six games of the year because of a concussion, but since coming back, he’s put the puck in the net 21 times in 23 games.

“He creates offense so many different ways,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune. “He can beat you with a speed game. He can beat you with a power game. He can beat you with a finesse game.”

Of course, this isn’t just a one-man team. The Penguins have also benefited from balanced scoring, some solid production from the blue line and they have a pair of goalies that can win them games on any given night.

The late game gets going at 10:00 p.m. ET, as the Philadelphia Flyers travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche. To watch that game online, click here.

The Pens might be the top team in the Metro, but the Flyers are the hottest team. Philadelphia has put together a nine-game winning streak, and they trail Pittsburgh by just two points in the standings.

“I think it’s definitely pretty cool for us,” Shayne Gostisbehere said of his team’s winning streak, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But right now the coolest thing is to look at the standings. We’re sitting pretty good. It’s a good thing for our team, and it’s a good thing for us to not get complacent. Just because you rattle off some wins in a row doesn’t mean you can’t lose that many, too.”

When you win nine games in a row, it likely means that you’ve received contributions from different players. That holds true for the Flyers, but the work Jakub Voracek has put in this season is undeniable.

After a disappointing 2015-16 that saw him score just 11 goals and 55 points, the Flyers forward has clearly taken the necessary steps to bounce back in a big way. He currently has 11 goals and 32 points in 31 games, which is pretty crazy.

“I’ve been here six seasons. Five years, I’ve been great,” Voracek said. “Last season was a fluke. I look at it that way.”

The Avalanche are a hard team to figure out because they have plenty of young, speedy talent, but they just can’t win with any regularity.

The Avs are 2-4-0 in the month of December. No loss was uglier than that 10-1 decision in Montreal last Saturday night. To their credit, they bounced back the very next night by beating Toronto.

One of the issues with Colorado, is their abysmal home record (4-8-1). No team in the league has won less games at home than the Avs.

“I don’t know why our road record’s so much better,” forward Matt Duchene said, per the Denver Post. “That’s got to change a little bit, obviously. We have to be a lot better. But we’ve had some bad games on the road too, games where we haven’t shown up. When we lose, we’re doing the same things, and it’s not a home versus road thing. When we win, we’re doing the same things. It’s not a home versus road thing there, either.”

Scoring goals has also been an issue for them. Through 27 games, no team has found the back of the net less than the Avs (60 goals).

Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Rene Bourque have scored 10, 8 and 8 goals respectively, but the rest of the roster isn’t pulling their weight in that department.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog has missed some time this year, but he only has four goals in 17 contests. Carl Soderberg has four in 27, Jarome Iginla has three in 27, Mikko Rantanen has four in 22 and Blake Comeau has five in 23.

Of course, the Bruins and Habs have differing opinions of Krug’s hit on Shaw

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In this case, the two parties involved will apparently have to agree to disagree.

Naturally, members of the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have differing opinions of Torey Krug‘s open-ice hit on Andrew Shaw in the first period of Monday’s game. There was no call on the play, but it was among the events that reignited this long-time rivalry in what was a chaotic yet highly entertaining hockey game.

Shaw left the game immediately after the hit but did return in the second period.

“I was looking at the puck, so I don’t really — I saw him and I knew who it was and I just assumed he was going to play the body because he’s a physical player. Lowered my shoulder and I don’t know what happened,” said Krug.

His coach, Claude Julien, called it a “good hit.”

The coach on the other bench, Michel Therrien, didn’t see it the same way.

Therrien said Shaw was in a “vulnerable position” — he leaned forward to play the puck in the neutral zone just as Krug was cutting into position — and he took a “hit to the head.”

Brendan Gallagher didn’t like the hit. He later dropped the gloves with Krug in a brief altercation.

“When you see your teammate get up the way Shaw did, he had blood coming from his face, Shaw would have done that for every guy on this team,” Gallagher said. “It’s tough whenever you play this team. A lot of emotions involved.

“There’s a lot of respect between these two teams, a lot of history. Today it got a little heated.”

Bruins win a crazy OT thriller versus rival Habs

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 12:  Kevan Miller #86 of the Boston Bruins checks Alexei Emelin #74 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on December 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Monday night. Only two games on the schedule. A quiet evening in the NHL, perhaps? No. Not between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

The rivalry renewed itself Monday, as the two teams met in Montreal. There were big hits and scoring chances and great saves from Tuukka Rask and Carey Price. OK, so it was a low-scoring game. Those can be fun, too, as these teams illustrated.

Despite a recent lack of offense, the Bruins earned an important 2-1 overtime victory, moving within eight points of the Habs in the Atlantic Division standings. Ryan Spooner scored the winner, sneaking the puck through the legs of Price on a nifty move to the forehand.

For a game in the middle of December, this one was certainly not lacking intensity. In fact, it was pure chaos at times, especially in the three-on-three overtime, with a playoff atmosphere.

The temperature started to rise with an Alexei Emelin hit along the boards on Bruins scorer David Pastrnak in the first period. That was followed up with a huge open-ice hit from Torey Krug on Andrew Shaw.

Shaw, whose head snapped back at the contact of the hit, went to the dressing room but he did return for the second period and was involved in getting under the skin of Bruins players as the night continued.

Neither of the aforementioned hits resulted in penalties, although Krug later fought Brendan Gallagher in the first period.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that scoring proved difficult for both teams.

The Habs and Bruins feature elite goalies in Price and Rask, and they were in fine form.

Rask went old school, stacking the pads to deny Tomas Plekanec, and Price robbed Pastrnak with a toe save in overtime. The Bruins appeared to have the winner on the ensuing rebound, but the goal was disallowed because of the contact between Pastrnak and Price in the crease.

Big hits, close calls, controversy, great goaltending — what else would we expect when the Bruins and Habs meet?

Video: Thunderous first period hits show Bruins-Habs rivalry is alive and well (Updated)

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In case you didn’t already know, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins don’t like each other.

Example No. 1,437: Tempers flared between the two long-time rivals during Monday’s game after a couple of massive hits within the span of just a few seconds during the first period.

It started with Alexei Emelin stepping up and delivering a heavy but clean hit on David Pastrnak along the boards. Seconds later, Andrew Shaw was hit in the open ice by Torey Krug.

Shaw went immediately to the dressing room, in obvious distress, and it will be interesting to see if the league deems this a hit worthy of supplemental discipline. There was no call on either hit.

What happened shortly after shouldn’t surprise anyone. Brendan Gallagher challenged Krug to a fight, with both players dropping the gloves and quickly hitting the ice.

You’ll recall during Saturday’s game between Montreal and Colorado that Emelin, with his team up 10-1 at the time, threw a controversial hip check on Joe Colborne, drawing a response from Jarome Iginla.

Updated: Per reports, Shaw has returned to the Montreal bench in the second period.

Bruins frustrated by lack of offense, but it should return

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 22: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins shoots the puck moments before teammate David Backes #42 scored a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at TD Garden on November 22, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
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The 2015-16 Boston Bruins were not your typical Claude Julien coached team.

The defense struggled, Tuukka Rask was not quite himself in net, and the team remained competitive thanks almost entirely to an offense that was one of the best in the NHL. The grind-it-out, shut teams down style of play that had been a staple of Bruins hockey for so many years seemed to be gone.

Fast forward to this season and things have pretty much done a complete 180, at least as it relates to the two defensive areas. Rask is playing like an elite goalie, and while the defense still looks thin on paper compared to what we’re used to seeing in Boston they are doing a great job of suppressing shots and keeping teams off the scoreboard.

But the offense that was so good last season has pretty much disappeared for most of this season. Following their 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, already the 20th time in 29 games this season they have failed to score more than two goals in a game (two more than any other team in the NHL), the Bruins now sit 26th in the NHL in goals per game, scoring only 2.31 per contest. If they maintain that pace over the entire season it would nearly 50 goals off of their total from a year ago.

Frustration seemed to be setting in after Saturday’s game.

David Backes talked about offensive frustration being warranted at this point and how the need to do more around the net.

Julien said that because they aren’t scoring goals at the moment they are criticizing everything else about their game, but that the rest of their game isn’t bad.

He is not wrong about that.

What has to be especially frustrating for the Bruins at this point is they really aren’t playing poorly. They are outshooting teams by an average of five shots per game, their 33.1 shots on goal per game is second best in the NHL behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins, and with a 54.9 corsi percentage are currently the best possession team in the NHL. They are doing a lot of things right. Those are things that winning teams do. And not just winning teams, championship contending teams.

The thing that is hurting them right now is a 7 percent shooting percentage that is currently the second worst in the NHL. Their current standing there is due almost entirely to the past 14 games where that percentage has dropped down to just 6 percent. This is the important thing to keep in mind here if you’re a Bruins fan. It’s a long season, and over 82 games offense will run hot and cold for extended periods of time. Through the first half of this season, the Bruins were scoring at a pretty normal rate. Over the 14 games that followed, it has completely collapsed. That is not going to last. Keep in mind that over the past five years only four teams have finished a season converting on 7 percent (or lower) or of their shots over a full season, and all of those were teams that were among the worst in the league during a given season.

The Bruins simply have too much talent on their roster to keep shooting that low over an extended period of time. As long as they are able to keep putting more than 33 shots on goal per game that shooting luck is going to eventually change back in their favor. Some of those bounces around the crease are going to start finding the back of the net. Once that starts to happen this could be a pretty dangerous team in the East given the way they are actually playing.