Get your game notes: Bruins at Penguins

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• Boston’s struggles: Since the start of December, Boston has won just 5 of 16 games (5-6-5).

• The B’s enter having dropped 4 of their last 5 games (1-1-3), including their last 3 – all in OT/SO.

• The Bruins (44 points) are 5th in the Atlantic Division, and trail TOR by 1 point for the 2nd Wild Card spot. On Tuesday, new Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs had critical remarks for the team’s performance this season: “I’d say without question this has been a very disappointing year. It’s unacceptable the way this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team. To see it deliver the way it has is unacceptable.”

• BOS is coming off a 2-1 (SO) loss at CAR on Sunday.

• Patrice Bergeron netted the lone goal for Boston.

• Tied 1-1 after 2 periods, the Bruins managed just 2 shots in the 3rd period, and finished with 20 in the game for their 3rd-lowest total of the season (BOS was outshot 36-20).

• BOS has not allowed more goals than it has scored in a season since 2007-08. That season, the Bruins qualified for the playoffs as the 8th seed in the East and lost in the Conference Quarterfinals.

• Pittsburgh also hitting a snag: The Pens have just 2 wins in their last 7 games (2-4-1)…

• PIT is coming off a 4-1 loss vs. MTL last Saturday.

• David Perron – acquired from EDM last Friday for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round pick – scored the lone PIT goal in his Penguins debut.

• PIT (53 points) is tied in points with NYI for the Metropolitan Division lead (with one game in hand) – those two teams trail only TB and MTL in the Eastern Conference.

• The Pens have won their division each of the past 2 seasons

• Of key players, currently forwards Patric Hornqvist (lower-body), Blake Comeau (wrist), Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), and defensemen Olli Maatta (shoulder) and Paul Martin (undisclosed) are all on IR.

• Martin practiced on Tuesday and coach Mike Johnston said the trainers believe Martin is “really close” to returning. He hasn’t played since Dec. 18.

• The Penguins are 15-1-1 when scoring on the power play this season, but just 1-for-15 in their last 6 games with the man-advantage.

HEAD TO HEAD

• Nov. 24 at BOS: PIT def. BOS 3-2 (OT)

• Evgeni Malkin tied the game at 2 with a power-play goal midway through the 2nd period before scoring the OT-winner 32 seconds into the extra frame.

• Sidney Crosby had a goal and assisted on both of Malkin’s tallies.

• Milan Lucic and Joe Morrow scored 28 seconds apart early in the 2nd for BOS.

• This game was the 300th career victory for Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, making him the 3rd-fastest and 3rd-youngest goalie to reach the milestone.

BOSTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins in assists (20) and points (28). He scored the lone Bruins goal in the loss to Carolina, and has 6 points (2G-4A) in his last 6 games.

• Bergeron: “We’re halfway in, and we’re not in the playoffs. It’s definitely unacceptable.”

• Loui Eriksson has played well of late, with 10 points (4G-6A) and a +6 rating in his last 9 games.

• Overall, Eriksson is 3rd on the team with 25 points (9G-16A).

• Career vs. PIT: Eriksson has 11 points (5G-6A) in 10 GP.

• Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in goals (11), and he is the only Bruin with 10+ goals this season.

• Vancouver (Radim Vrbata – 16 goals) and Buffalo (Zemgus Girgensons – 11) are the only other NHL teams that have just one 10+ goal scorer this season.

• Milan Lucic scored 24 goals in 80 games last season, but he has just 6 in 39 GP so far this season.

• Lucic is in the middle of an 8-game goal drought, and he has just 1 goal in his last 15 games.

• David Krejci will play in his 10th game since returning to the lineup following a month-long absence (groin).

• Krejci led the Bruins in scoring in October (9 points), and has 4 points (1G-3A) in his last 4 games.

• Zdeno Chara is also trying to find his stride since returning to the lineup last month from a knee injury that sidelined him for 19 games.

• Chara has 5 points (all assists) in the 12 games since returning, but is without a point in his last 4.

• Career vs. PIT: Chara has 16 goals vs. PIT – his most vs. any NHL opponent – along with 15 assists.

• Tuukka Rask has made 4 straight starts for Boston, getting at least 1 point in each (1-0-3). However, he has been the hard-luck loser in the past 3 games, dropping 2 in a shootout and one in overtime.

• The reigning Vezina Trophy winner stopped 35 of 36 shots in the SO loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday.

• Rask hadn’t allowed 1 or fewer goals in a game since Nov. 28 – a span of 13 games.

PITTSBURGH TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Evgeni Malkin is one of just 3 Pens to have played in all 39 games this season (Nick Spaling, Rob Scuderi).

• Malkin leads the team in goals (17 – T-9th in NHL) and is tied for the team lead in points with Sidney Crosby (43 – T-6th in NHL).

• Malkin leads the team in power play goals (8 – T-5th in NHL).

• Malkin has just 2 points in his last 5 games (1 goal, 1 assist in 6-3 win vs. TB last Friday).

• Career vs. BOS: Malkin has 28 points (13G-15A) in 24 GP.

• Sidney Crosby may be locating his scoring touch. He has 6 points (1G-5A) in his last 4 games, including a 4-assist game in the win over Tampa Bay.

• Crosby is tied with Malkin for the team lead in points (43 – T-6th in NHL).

• Career vs. BOS: Crosby has 38 points (11G-27A) in 26 GP.

• PIT acquired David Perron from EDM last Friday in exchange for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round pick. The 8-year NHL veteran scored the lone Penguins goal in his debut last Saturday in the 4-1 loss to MTL.

• In 38 games with EDM this season, Perron had 19 points (5G-14A).

• Last season, Perron had a career-high 28 goals and 57 points.

• Perron was a 2007 1st round pick (26th overall) by STL.

• In Patric Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis absences, Steve Downie has benefitted from playing alongside Sidney Crosby on the top line.

• Downie has as many points (10) in his last 8 games as he did in his previous 26 to start the season:

• Marc-Andre Fleury only has 1 win in his last 6 starts (1-3-1, 3.16 GAA, .898 SV%), but the 30-year-old is still having his best season statistically as a pro.

• His 6 shutouts through 31 games lead the NHL, and are already his career-best for a season. His 2.18 GAA and .926 SV% this season would be his best season averages in his 11-season career (current bests: 2.32 GAA in 2010-11, .921 SV% in 2007-08).

• Career vs. BOS: Fleury is 12-6-3 with a 2.30 GAA and .922 SV%.

Bruins hope to have a healthy Chara for Stanley Cup Final

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BOSTON (AP) — The Bruins were able to sweep Carolina in the Eastern Conference final without captain Zdeno Chara.

Now they’re hoping 10 days off before the start of the Stanley Cup Final will be enough time for the defenseman to return.

The title round begins May 27 when Boston will face San Jose or St. Louis, with that conference final 2-2. The Bruins completed their sweep Thursday with Chara out with an undisclosed injury.

”We have a lot of time to make the absolute right decision to give him the proper time to get over something that’s been nagging him,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Saturday. ”And we’ll cross our fingers that will be the case. But we’re confident it will be.”

Sweeney stopped short of guaranteeing Chara’s return for Game 1.

”I’m not living in how or where Zee feels. I expect he’ll be fine,” Sweeney said. ”But I’m not going to sit here and make a proclamation in terms of promises. I do believe that time will be used effectively and he’ll be fine. But sometimes those are out of your control.”

Defenseman Kevan Miller and forward Chris Wagner are doubtful for Game 1 of the Final. Miller hasn’t played since April 4 because of a lower-body injury. Wagner injured his right arm blocking a shot in Game 3 against Carolina.

Patrick Roy set to interview for Senators’ coaching vacancy: report

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Interested in seeing more of this?

Or maybe some of this?

Well, you just might be in luck.

Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reports that Patrick Roy is set be the last interview done by Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion as the search for the next bench boss in Canada’s capital continues.

Roy has most recently been coaching the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He last coached in the NHL in 2016 with the Colorado Avalanche, a job he resigned from following that season. Two years earlier, he won the Jack Adams Award for the NHL’s best coach after the Avalanche went from last to first in the Western Conference.

Roy is 130-92-24 during his 246-game coaching career in the NHL.

“Those close to Roy believe he’d like to return to the NHL in the right situation and initially the only pressure in Ottawa will be to develop the young players,” Garrioch wrote. “The Senators have the potential to have 17 picks in the first three rounds of the next three drafts and finding the right fit is paramount.”

The Senators, according to Garrioch, have already interviewed several candidates, including fellow former Avalanche coach Mark Crawford, along with former Senators coach Jacques Martin and Dallas Stars assistance Rick Bowness.

Roy’s experience coaching young players, as Garrioch points out, would be appealing for a team as young as the Senators, who also have a litany of draft picks coming their way over the next three years.

Can Roy work under Senators owner Eugene Melnyk? Can he work with Dorion? Roy didn’t exactly have the best professional relationship with Joe Sakic and Roy would likely want some level of control of the direction of the team.

It remains to be seen, but Roy has a decent track record that is appealing, certainly.


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

Has Erik Karlsson’s lingering groin injury resurfaced?

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It plagued him for most of the second half of the season.

A good chunk of January, a good chunk of February, and the entirety of March, to be exact.

And now Erik Karlsson‘s Game 5 status is up in the air after he appeared to aggravate a lingering groin injury, one Karlsson said had only progressed in the right direction throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs after Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.

“I don’t have anything for you there,” said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer when quizzed on Karlsson’s health following a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues that evened the best-of-seven series 2-2 on Friday.

DeBoer quickly swept that question under the rug.

As did Brent Burns, who just said, “He’s doing good” followed by a “How’re you doing?” when a reporter probed Burns about his teammate.

You may not have noticed it, initially at least.

Normally guys who play 24:33 in a game don’t miss significant stretches. But from the 10:36 mark to 18:05 of the third period, Karlsson didn’t see the ice. With the Sharks trailing 2-1 at the time, you’d expect one of the game’s best offensive defensemen to be on the ice. Instead, Karlsson was grimacing in pain, coming out during commercial breaks to test whatever was ailing him.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Somehow, he played the final 1:55 of the game — nearly two minutes of madness where the Sharks tried, ultimately in vain, to find an equalizer. Karlsson bit down hard on his mouthpiece and bore the pain, but you could see its effects.

PHT’s James O’Brien wrote on Karlsson’s playoffs prior to Friday’s game.

Karlsson limped into the playoffs and said himself that he could barely move in Round 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Still, and as James pointed out in his story, it’s been hard to notice with two goals and 14 assists in 18 postseason games. Karlsson has played big minutes and produced at nearly a point-per-game pace in the playoffs, essentially everything the Sharks envisioned he would do when they brought him in last summer.

What they didn’t want was a nagging injury that force Karlsson to missed 29 games during the regular season and now, perhaps, some at a critical juncture for a team that’s hoping they’ve finally put it all together this year.

Maybe it’s nothing. But those painful faces that Karlsson wore in Game 4 weren’t exactly inspiring confidence in the “maybe it’s nothing” part.

If Karlsson can’t play, it’s only going to mean more minutes for guys like Burns, who is already averaging nearly 29 minutes a night. Karlsson has played an instrumental role in these playoffs for the Sharks.

A loss, even for a game, would be a massive blow in what’s now a best-of-three series.

[MORE: Blues handling adversity like champions]


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

Blues handling adversity like champions

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How many times have we thought the St. Louis Blues were dead in the water?

Was it in Round 1 when, after jetting out to a 2-0 lead against the Winnipeg Jets, they lost two straight as it appeared the Jets finally got their act together?

Was it after Games 4 and 5 in Round 2 where the Dallas Stars took a 3-2 series lead and we figured that was the end of their miraculous run?

Was it after the San Jose Sharks benefitted from a hand pass by Timo Meier that found the stick of Erik Karlsson to end Game 3 in overtime to give the Sharks a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Final?

For a team that sat plumb last in the NHL on the morning of Jan. 3, are we really all that surprised that they’re still alive and kicking?

Perhaps we shouldn’t be.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that a rookie goaltender is now 11-2 following a loss in the regular and postseason combined, throwing up an incredible .936 save percentage when his team needs a win.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be miffed when a team as resilient as the Blues, given all they’ve been through, have outscored opponents 14-9 after a loss in these playoffs.

Embrace the grind, as they say.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

And the Blues have, particularly in Game 4 where they could have imploded after losing in such terrible fashion one-game earlier.

“We just talked about… you’ve got to just move on,” said Blues head coach Craig Berube, saying he went into the room after Game 3 to talk that loss over with the team. “The call, you can’t change it now. It is what it is. I think we talked in terms like that game we had a one-goal lead, we could have closed it out then and we didn’t. We let it go to overtime, and the only difference tonight, we closed it out with a one-goal lead.”

Indeed, the whole overtime crisis of Game 3 could have been averted if the Blues could have held onto a 4-3 third-period lead. They trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in that game but led after a four-goal second period. Only Logan Couture‘s magic 6-on-5 prevented the win in regulation and we all know what happened from there.

Resilience will only take a team so far. It’s an intangible. At the end of the day, that resilience needs to bend but not break and the players have to ultimately get the job done. It broke in Game 3. In Game 4, however, the Blues adjusted.

They didn’t have to play from behind — an Ivan Barbashev goal 35 seconds in solved that issue in short order. Tyler Bozak‘s game-winner was scored later on in the same frame.

The Sharks certainly attacked, finishing the game with 73 shot attempts — more than double that of St. Louis.

But St. Louis held the line.

The final 1:55 of the third period was frantic — madness, as Jordan Binnington put it following the game. A big save from Binnington was followed up by a big block of Alex Steen. Brayden Schenn then did the only thing he could do amidst the onslaught as he iced the puck. With no times outs, the Blues couldn’t get a breather until Joel Edmundson‘s desperate attempt to clear was just short of being an icing call.

The Sharks came back, only to have a shot blocked by Bozak and eventually cleared. Ryan O'Reilly then won a key draw in the neutral zone and Oskar Sundqvist thwarted the final attempt by the Sharks.

“We’ve fought through adversity all year,” Bozak said. “We usually play our best when we have to respond to something.”

Full buy-in from a team that’s done nothing but since Jan. 3. And a 2-2 series stalemate after four games with a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup on the line.

This is simply expected from the Blues at this point.

MORE:
• Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• PHT Conference Finals predictions


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