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The Buzzer: Isles end eight-game losing skid; Bruins win streak stops at six

Players of the Night: 

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks: Toews assisted on all three of Chicago’s goals. Two of his helpers were came on the power play and of the primary variety. Captain serious has picked up nine points in his last six contests.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: He scored the game-winning goal Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Bruins. He also assisted teammate Brent Seabrook‘s late tally. The 29-year-old has 25 goals and 66 points in 70 games this season. The ‘Hawks put an end to Boston’s six-game winning streak.

Johnny Boychuk, New York Islanders: The Isles blue liner finished Sunday’s game against the Flames with a great stat line. He had one goal, two assists and a plus-5 rating in 21:05 of ice time. They also managed to put an end to their eight-game losing streak.

Christopher Gibson, New York Islanders: Another day, another 50-shot performance against the Islanders. Gibson turned aside 50 of the 52 shots the Flames sent his way.

Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes: It wasn’t exactly must-see TV, but the Coyotes netminder managed to stop all 26 shots he faced in a win over the Canucks. This was his first shutout as a member of the ‘Yotes.

Highlights of the Night:

Alexander Radulov doing Alexander Radulov things:

Patrick Kane scored the go-ahead goal late:

Another mention for young Gibson:

Factoids of the Night: 

Another goal and an assist for Evgeni Malkin on Sunday. He’s rolling:

Christopher Gibson saw a lot of rubber tonight:

Patrick Kane is moving on up:

The Pens are rolling:

Scores: 

Blackhawks 3, Bruins 1

Islanders 5, Flames 2

Penguins 3, Stars 1

Coyotes 1, Canucks 0

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Kane scores late winner as Blackhawks down Bruins 3-1

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For the Chicago Blackhawks to avoid a three-game losing skid, they’d have to beat a team that had just won six straight at home.

Luckily for the Blackhawks, the schedule lured the Boston Bruins away from the comfortable confines of TD Garden on Sunday and killed two birds with one stone, simultaneously ending both streaks in a 3-1 triumph at United Center in the Windy City.

The Blackhawks regrouped quickly, going 50-plus minutes without allowing a goal on Sunday, a day after allowing seven goals to the same Bruins team, including four unanswered en route to a 7-4 loss.

Chicago led from the 7:26 mark of the first period as Artem Anisimov deflected a point shot past Bruins netminder Anton Khudobin for a 1-0 lead.

Perhaps a little fatigue caught up with the Bruins and maybe the well ran a little dry.

Boston has had to make due without Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy, both nursing injuries, and David Backes, who is out due to suspension.

On Sunday, Brad Marchand‘s name was added to the list the walking wounded, after he was made a late scratch with an upper-body injury prior to the game.

It was a tad suspect after Marchand clotheslined Anthony Duclair on Saturday if the first game of the home-and-home, leading to an injury for the latter that’s ruled him out for 1-2 weeks. Perhaps the Bruins didn’t want to risk any retribution.

But even a Bruins team hampered by injury is still a good Bruins team as witnessed in Saturday’s win.

Despite all the scoring missing from the lineup, an old friend stepped up just after the mid-way mark of the third period.

Zdeno Chara let a wrist shot go that finally solved Anton Forsberg, who stopped 31-of-32 in the game.

Chara’s impact was felt again minutes later after an ill-advised high-sticking penalty gave the Blackhawks a four-minute power play.

Patrick Kane wasted no time snatching back the lead, firing a snapshot bar down past Khudobin for the go-ahead marker that would eventually be the game-winner.

Brent Seabrook would add the insurance marker with 1:05 left, putting the third goal past Khudobin, who negotiation 36-of-39 shots sent his way.

The Bruins trailed the Tampa Bay Lightning by six points heading into Sunday’s game, but owned three games in-hand. So chalk this one up as a missed opportunity to gain some ground against a team that won’t be playing in the playoffs this season.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks

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NBC’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Sunday as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins at 12:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BRUINS
Brad MarchandRiley NashDavid Pastrnak
Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciRick Nash
Danton HeinenTommy Wingels – Brian Gionta
Tim SchallerSean KuralyNoel Acciari

Zdeno CharaBrandon Carlo
Torey KrugNick Holden
Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin

WATCH LIVE – 12:30 p.m. ET

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatNick Schmaltz – John Hayden
Tomas JurcoArtem Anisimov – Matt Highmore
Patrick SharpDavid Kampf – TBD

Duncan KeithConnor Murphy
Erik GustafssonBrent Seabrook
Jordan OesterleJan Rutta

Starting goalie: Anton Forsberg

Bruins crushing teams without two of their best players

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The Boston Bruins pushed their current winning streak to six games on Saturday afternoon with a 7-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, keeping pace with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy and continuing to show why they should be considered one of the leading favorites to win the Stanley Cup as we head into the stretch run.

What makes this winning streak so impressive is the fact that all six games have come without the services of their best all-around player, do-everything center Patrice Bergeron.

Oh, and just for good measure, they have also been without a top-pairing defenseman in Charlie McAvoy in four of those games.

There are not many teams that could lose two players like that and not only go on a six-game winning streak, but do it in the manner in which the Bruins have done it.

It’s not just that the Bruins are winning without two of their top players — they are still dominating.

Just look at some of the numbers they have put up during this streak.

  • They have scored 30 goals overall and had three games where they have scored at least six.
  • They are averaging 37.8 shots on goal per game.
  • They have 11 different players that have recorded at least four points during the streak, including seven that have had at least six.
  • They have five different players, including trade deadline acquisition Rick Nash, that have at least three goals.
  • Brad Marchand is showing that he is not just a creating of playing on a line with Bergeron and has put the offense on his back with six goals and five assists during the streak.

Granted, the schedule over this winning streak hasn’t exactly been a daunting one as every game has been at home and with only two of them coming against playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia), but they still won both of them.

One of them (the Pittsburgh game) very convincingly.

The schedule does get a little tougher the rest of the way as 11 of their final 16 games are on the road.

Still, the fact they are doing all of that against any NHL teams without Bergeron and McAvoy should be pretty scary for the rest of the Eastern Conference. This isn’t just a one-line team.

Keep in mind the Bruins started the year winning only six of their first 17 games.

Since then they have gone 37-8-4 and are looking like a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.

————

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Bruins bits: Backes on suspension, McAvoy moves on

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Last night, Darren Dreger surmised that David Backes‘ three-game suspension for a hit on Frans Nielsen was “harsh,” and he was “sure the Bruins don’t agree.”

(Check Dreger’s analysis and footage of the hit above this post’s headline.)

That might be true, but Backes had a measured response to the league’s decision. While he didn’t outright agree, he acknowledged that he must accept it, that he regrets injuring Nielsen, and that he describes the check as an awkward, “one-off” hit. Backes also notes that the Bruins have been through this before, with injuries and suspensions forcing other players to step up, as they will need to again:

In case you missed it, here’s the official explanation from the NHL:

Backes, of course (or as usual?), isn’t the only Bruins player who will be sidelined. Patrice Bergeron is still out with what appears to be a foot injury, while Charlie McAvoy eyes an unclear window of recovery for his knee issue.

McAvoy met with the media today, mixing some optimism (his goal is to play in some regular season games, however realistic that goal might be) with notes about how he doesn’t want to rush back and increase the odds of aggravating the injury. So, ultimately, the beyond-his-years 20-year-old stands as a mystery for the B’s:

In the cases of McAvoy and Bergeron in particular, these are players who are extremely difficult to replace.

Still, between bringing in Brian Gionta to trading for Rick Nash and Tommy Wingels, the Bruins have done their best to provide options when injuries and/or suspensions crop up. If nothing else, the Bruins probably won’t be caught off guard when the playoffs present the usual slew of bumps, bruises, and worse.

The Bruins hope to stick with the Lightning in the race for the Atlantic Division crown as they face the Philadelphia Flyers in Boston tonight. They might not be the healthier team, but they’re at least more rested, as the Flyers fell to the Penguins in an entertaining contest last night.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.