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Bruins’ Zdeno Chara staying in Boston after inking one-year extension

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Opposing forwards will have to deal with Zdeno Chara for at least one more season after the Boston Bruins defenseman inked an extension Wednesday through the 2018-19 NHL season.

Chara, 41, is getting a $1 million raise next season with a $5 million salary and could earn up to an additional $1.75 million in bonuses tied to games played.

In 68 games this season Chara has seven goals and 23 points while averaging 23 minutes a night. His time on-ice is actually the lowest he’s played since 2001-02 — his first season in Ottawa — but it still leads all Bruins defensemen. His play has been supported by his partner on the blue line, 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy, who is among the league’s top rookies.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

McAvoy has been a sponge around Chara, soaking up the knowledge of a veteran defenseman with over 1,400 NHL games under his belt. From taking care of things off the ice to staying sharp on it, the young McAvoy has learned a lot in a short while playing with the elder Chara.

“The way he controls the game is just awesome. There’s not many people I think can do it like that,” McAvoy said earlier this season. “When he gets the puck, it’s kind of like a calm factor to him. He’s so strong defensively, I know when he’s going to win his battles.”

Chara has been out since March 13 with an upper-body injury and could return Thursday for a big matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. McAvoy may get back in as well, which bodes well as the Bruins remain in the hunt for not only the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but also the Presidents’ Trophy.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Minnesota Wild

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PROJECTED LINES

Boston Bruins

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak
Ryan Donato – David Krejci– Brian Gionta
Danton HeinenRiley NashTommy Wingels
Tim SchallerSean KuralyNoel Acciari

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller
Nick HoldenBrandon Carlo

Starting goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Minnesota Wild

Jason ZuckerEric StaalMikael Granlund
Zach PariseMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle
Zack Mitchell – Matt CullenNino Niederreiter
Daniel Winnik – Joel Eriksson-Ek – Marcus Foligno

Ryan SuterMatt Dumba
Jonas Brodin – Ryan Murphy
Nick SeelerNate Prosser

Starting goaltender: Alex Stalock

NHL On NBCSN: Bergeron ‘very likely’ to return as Bruins visit Wild

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Sunday night with the Boston Bruins visiting the Minnesota Wild. You can catch all of the action at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

The Boston Bruins are getting some good news on Sunday evening and the rest of the NHL is getting some very bad news.

What exactly is that news? It is that center Patrice Bergeron is “very likely” to return to the lineup when the team visits the Minnesota Wild, according to coach Bruce Cassidy.

That means one of the very best teams in the league is getting back one of the league’s very best two-way players.

Bergeron has been sidelined since Feb. 25 due to a foot injury. All the Bruins did during that stretch was go on a 9-2-2 run to keep pace with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division race.

What is most impressive about that recent run is that Bergeron isn’t the only top player they have been without during it.

  • Rookie sensation Charlie McAvoy, one of the team’s top defenseman, has not played since March 3.
  • Zdeno Chara, their ice-time leader when in the lineup, has not played since March 13, as has rookie forward Jake DeBrusk and his 14 goals.
  • David Backes has been out since March 17.
  • Key trade deadline acquisition Rick Nash has sat out the past three games due to a
  • Torey Krug, the team’s top-scoring defenseman and fourth-leading scorer overall, has missed the past two games. He, too, is likely to return on Sunday night against the Minnesota Wild.

All the team has continued to do without all of them is just keeping winning games and piling up points, including a huge come-from-behind win against the Dallas Stars on Friday night. In that game the Bruins overcome a 2-0 third period deficit to rally for a regulation win.

Needless to say, it is incredibly deep team and has also received some huge performances from its remaining top players, specifically Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

A win on Sunday night would help them close the gap to within two points of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Atlantic Division while still having a game in hand and two head-to-head meetings ahead of them.

[NHL Playoff Push: Desperation time for the Stars]

While the Bruins are fighting for a division title, the Wild are fighting just so simply secure a playoff spot.

They enter the game three points clear of the first non-playoff team in the Western Conference and are also holding a two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the third playoff spot in the Central Division.

The Wild enter the game having won three out of their past four games with the only loss during that stretch coming in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings.

Eric Staal is still one goal shy of hitting the 40-goal mark for the third time in his career.

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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.

The Buzzer: Schwartz the hero, Gibson blanks Flames, Bruins clinch

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Players of the Night:

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues: The Blues needed a win on Wednesday. They’ll need a few more still if they’re to push for the playoffs, but Schwartz scored a third-period equalizer and then the overtime winner 30 seconds into the extra frame to keep pace with the Anaheim Ducks (who won) for the second and final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: Gibson posted his third shutout in his past seven starts — and fourth of the season — saving all 29 shots that came his way in a 4-0 triumph of the Calgary Flames.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins: Malkin continued his pursuit of the Hart Trophy, netting a goal and adding an assist for his 41st goal (three back of Alex Ovechkin) and 91st point (three back of Nikita Kucherov).

Highlights of the Night:

Sidney Crosby did a thing – a very nice thing:

Jaden Schwartz, end-to-end to end the game:

Shortie:

Factoids of the Night:

Scores:

Penguins 5, Canadiens 3

Coyotes 4, Buffalo 1

Blues 2, Bruins 1 (OT)

Ducks 4, Flames 0


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 move closer to playoffs with OT win; Bruins clinch

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Maybe the St. Louis Blues aren’t dead in the water after all.

In fact, despite selling off Paul Stastny at the trade deadline following two brutal loses that were part of a larger free fall at the time, the Blues have found another gear with just weeks left in the NHL season.

The Blues pulled themselves to within one point of the second and final wildcard spot in the Western Conference with a 2-1 overtime win against the depleted Boston Bruins on Wednesday Night Rivalry on the NHL on NBCSN.

The Bruins held the lead for two periods and change before Jaden Schwartz scored mid-way through the third period to tie the game and then 30 seconds into overtime to seal the win and move one-point behind the Anaheim Ducks (who were still in action against the Calgary Flames.)

That’s three straight OT wins for the Blues, who were without Vladimir Tarasenko due to injury.

The point for the Bruins was important, despite the loss, as they have now clinched a playoff spot, moving four points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Atlantic Division lead.

The Bruins were still missing Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Rick Nash on Wednesday, yet still figured out a way to obtain something despite a stacked infirmary.

And part of that help is coming from a surprising place.

Last week at this time, Ryan Donato was a Harvard student, fresh off a five-goal performance at the Olympics for Team USA.

By Sunday, he was still a Harvard student but had signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Boston Bruins. On Monday, still a Havard student and now an NHLer for 24 hours, Donato scored his first NHL goal and added two assists in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

On Tuesday, Donato was back in class — you guessed it — as a Harvard student, an NHL player who had been excused from practice by the team that signed him two days earlier and scored his first NHL goal a night before.

On Wednesday, Donato scored again.

Meanwhile, the NHL could take a deeper look at a second-period hit to the head Brayden Schenn by on David Krejci.

Schenn was handed a two-minute charging penalty on the play, and Krejci stayed in the game, but judging by the above video, there was definite contact to the head and it appears Krejci was fortunate to be able to get up and skate away.

NBCSN’s Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones talked about if Schenn deserves to be suspended for the hit.


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