NHL on NBCSN: Bruins vs. Wild on Rivalry Night

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Minnesota Wild host the Boston Bruins at the Xcel Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Two American hockey hotbeds will be represented on Wednesday as the Minnesota Wild face the Boston Bruins in the latest edition of NBCSN’s “Rivalry Night.”

The last time these two teams met, the Wild nabbed a 4-3 road victory against the Bruins on Oct. 28, despite Seth Griffith’s three-point night.

Boston has been stumbling quite a bit lately, as the Bruins are losers of three straight while Zdeno Chara continues to shake off the rust from a lengthy injury absences.

Neither team should be expected to have a major rest advantage, as they both suffered shootout defeats last night. That said, the Wild are getting hit hard with the mumps (or, er, “illnesses) and could very well be forced to go far down their depth chart with both Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom showing signs of sickness.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

It’s a long NHL season, and one could say that both teams are limping into tonight’s proceedings to some degree. Injuries and/or sicknesses have made things hard for each squad. Both the Wild and Bruins are ranked 10th in their respective conferences despite coming into the 2014-15 season with high expectations.

In other words, there’s plenty of incentive for these teams to start sorting things out, even if things haven’t been trending upward. As many would point out, you can learn a lot from a team when its back is against the wall, though.

‘Things aren’t coming easy for us,’ says Lucic after Bruins loss

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Seven games into December, the Boston Bruins have only one win this month. They’ve had a few close calls here and there – three straight one-goal games and a pair of shootout losses – but only the one victory.

On Tuesday, they fell to the Nashville Predators by a final score of 3-2 in a game decided by the skills competition. Meanwhile, with their record-breaking shootout win over Washington, the Florida Panthers actually moved ahead of the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings.

Once a Stanley Cup champion and contender, it appears that with the halfway mark of the season approaching, the Bruins might be in a fight just to make the playoffs in the spring.

“Things aren’t coming easy for us – have to find a way to get some wins here. You look at the standings, we’re behind the eight ball,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, as per the club’s Twitter account.

He added: “Hasn’t been an easy year at all and we need to find ways to grind it out, start getting wins (and) start feeling good about ourselves.”

Bruins have to ‘step up,’ starting tonight in Nashville

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The Boston Bruins have played 30 games and lost 13 of them outright.

In 2013-14, they only lost 19 games outright all season.

At their current pace, they’d lose 35 in 2014-15, their most since 2006-07, which was the last time they missed the playoffs.

So, you know…it’s probably time to pick it up a bit.

“We’ve got to step up.” said coach Claude Julien, per CSN New England. “That’s what you’ve got to do in that situation. That’s what all teams have to do in that situation. There’s no real mystery or surprise there. Nobody is going to do it for us. Nobody really cares whether we win or lose, except for ourselves. So it’s up to us to battle our way out of it.”

It won’t be easy. The B’s kick off a three-games-in-four-nights road trip tonight in Nashville, followed by stops in Minnesota tomorrow and Winnipeg Friday.

All three of those teams have better records than Boston.

“It’s not going to be easy at all,” said winger Milan Lucic. “We need to embrace this road trip, and look at it as a huge challenge. We have five games before the Christmas break, and where do we want to be as a team headed into that break? It starts [Tuesday] on this road trip with three teams that are in that playoff picture in the Western Conference.”

Ryan’s shootout winner helps Sens top Bruins

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The Ottawa Senators battled back from two one-goal deficits to top the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout Saturday afternoon.

Bobby Ryan, who had a highlight-reel goal against the L.A. Kings on Thursday, had another beauty for the shootout winner.

Ottawa has now won two of three while Boston has lost two in a row and five of six.

Craig Cunningham opened the scoring for the Bruins, shorthanded, with his first career NHL goal.

After Mika Zibanejad tied it at 1-1 early in the second, Loui Eriksson gave Boston a 2-1 lead.

David Legwand knotted it at 2-2 early in the third, with a power play marker, setting up overtime.

The Boston Bruins got a scare late in the third period as Patrice Bergeron took a slash from Mike Hoffman in the hand and and left the game momentarily, but he returned for overtime.

Sens veteran defenseman Chris Phillips was a healthy scratch.

Robin Lehner made 29 saves to improve to 6-4-1 on the season while Tuukka Rask stopped 29 shots in the loss.

Video: Bruins’ Cunningham scores first NHL goal

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Boston Bruins forward Craig Cunningham scored his first NHL goal Saturday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators.

The goal, which came shorthanded, opened the scoring for the Bruins.

The 24-year-old is playing in his seventh career NHL game.

Originally Boston’s fourth-round pick (97th overall) in 2010, Cunningham is playing his fifth game of the season today.