The Boston Bruins, having been crushed at times by injuries over the past couple of months, entered Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers without their top two defensemen in Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy.
They lost another late in the third period of their 5-1 win when Brandon Carlo had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher following a fall along the boards.
While attempting to make a play on the puck, Carlo’s left leg gets twisted and bent in a rather awkward manner.
You can see the play here, but be warned before hitting play that it is kind of ugly.
With Chara and McAvoy still sidelined, Carlo was seeing an increased role in the Bruins’ lineup and was second among the team’s defensemen in ice-time on Saturday before leaving the game.
The Bruins have dealt with a ton of injuries throughout the season, and especially lately with Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Rick Nash, Jake DeBrusk, Chara and McAvoy all missing time over the past few weeks. DeBrusk returned to the lineup on Saturday and recorded three points (including two goals). Even with all of those injuries the Bruins have still been one of the best and most dominant teams in the league.
Their win on Saturday afternoon moved them back into first place in the Atlantic Division — and back into the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference — ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Back in mid-November the Bruins went through a stretch where they lost five out of six games (including four in a row) to fall to 6-7-4 on the season. Including Saturday’s win, they are 43-10-7 in the 50 games since. That would be a 127-point pace over an 82-game season.
As for the Panthers, Saturday’s loss is a huge one because they are starting to run out of games when it comes to making up that gap in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race. It also means that the Pittsburgh Penguins can clinch a playoff spot on Saturday night with a win over the Montreal Canadiens. A win by the New Jersey Devils over the New York Islanders would also give them a five-point cushion over the Panthers in the playoff race. The Panthers still have to play the Bruins two more times this season, as well as a game against the Nashville Predators. It is not going to be an easy run for them.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.