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The Buzzer: Bergeron line continues domination; Lehner posts shutout in debut

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Three Stars

1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins: 

The Bruins top line of Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand has picked up right where it left off last season. Bergeron gets the first-star spot on Monday after scoring his fourth career hat trick and adding a helper in a four-point night. Pastrnak was exceptional as well in the Bruins 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators, compiling his own four-point game with two goals and two assists. Marchand chipped in three helpers for good measure.

2. Robin Lehner, New York Islanders:

A new team meant a new start for Lehner, who opened up in the preseason about a difficult time in his personal life. Coming from the Buffalo Sabres after being signed as a free agent this summer, Lehner had to wait his turn to get his first start in the Islanders’ crease after Thomas Greiss got off to a good start, stopping 45-of-46 in New York’s season opener. But after Greiss was shelled against the Nashville Predators, Lehner was given the green light for his debut. Lehner appeared more than ready was ready Monday, stopping all 35 shots sent his way by a potent San Jose Sharks team to post his ninth career shutout.

3. Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres: 

Here’s a stat: Not since the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13 have the Sabres had a record better than .500. That’s incredible in its own right, and the reason why they were able to break out of that funk has been the stellar play of Eichel to start the season. Eichel fired home two more goals for his second and third of the season to lift the Sabres past the mighty Vegas Golden Knights. Buffalo had a tough outing in their season opener against the Boston Bruins but have rebounded, beating the New York Rangers and the Golden Knights to carve out an early 2-1-0 record. Eichel has been a factor in both wins after picking up a goal and an assist in the Rangers game. He’s billed as a stud and now has some decent talent around him to strut his stuff. Don’t sleep on Buffalo this season.

Highlights of the Night:

Bergeron’s backhand sauce is filthy here after leading the rush down the ice. He had a hat trick on the day, but this was arguably his best play from the win.

Eichel had himself a day, and this forehand-to-backhand sorcery was too good for Marc-Andre Fleury to ever have a chance to save.

Factoids:

Scores: 

Bruins 6, Senators 3

Islanders 4, Sharks, 2

Sabres 4, Golden Knights 2

Ducks 3, Red Wings 2 (SO)

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule


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

Crushing hit forces Bruins’ Backes from Game 5

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Boston Bruins forward David Backes won’t return to Sunday’s Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning after a big hit in the second period.

Backes was stood up by Tampa forward J.T. Miller at the Lightning blue line as Backes was trying to get the puck into the zone.

The hit seemed to stiffen up Backes as he fell to the ice, where he laid for several minutes before having to be helped off it by two Bruins and then helped down the tunnel by members of Boston’s training staff.

There was no penalty called on the play. Miller scored the go-ahead goal later in the period and the Bruins trail 2-1 in the third period with their playoff lives on the line.

Backes is no stranger to the concussion.

He was concussed on this hit by William Carrier:

And there was the Brent Seabrook 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

Maple Leafs hope playing ‘desperate’ aids them vs. Bruins

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Mike Babcock loves himself some clam chowder, so going back to Boston for Game 7 against the Bruins Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, live stream) means he has that option again for a pre-game meal.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have put themselves in this situation with two straight wins after being down 3-1 in their opening round series with the Bruins. The talk about the collapse from five years ago, and the fall-out from that, is in the past, as both teams face a win-or-go-home night ahead.

“There’s no more bullets left in the chamber. This is it,” said Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk. “This is your last shot to move on or go home. Obviously, even that much more, the desperation gets amplified.”

TD Garden will be loud and energy-filled and emotions will be high with the stakes being what they are. The Maple Leafs played a much smarter game in Game 6, taking only two penalties compared to the six power plays they gave the Bruins in Game 5. Boston’s power play is second in the NHL this postseason (31.6 percent), and any time Toronto allows the Bruins to play with a man advantage is time that’s taking away from their stars being able to create scoring opportunities at even strength.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

The approach will be the same refrain you hear from head coaches in these situations: keep it simple. No major adjustments, no overhauling of a game plan for a new 60-minute battle — just worry about puck possession and do your job.

How much does scoring first help? Historically, the team that scores first has won 75 percent of the time (126-43) in Game 7s. That’s all built into Babcock’s plan, as well as the message to his team about not being afraid of what’s in front of them.

“I think the other thing you’ve got to do, and I’ve talked quite a bit about this, there’s only certain moments in your life that turn into memories,” Babcock said on Wednesday. “This is one of them right here tonight. Make it a great memory. We have an opportunity here today to enjoy ourselves, to embrace the situation, to play well, to play hard. We’re capable. Let’s do that.”

This will be the third straight elimination game for Toronto, and the mindset of knowing it could be the last game of your season has so far been enough to result in efforts that has led to victories.

“That’s the positive. I think being down 3-1 we’ve played desperate hockey, we know what that feels like, we know how to start games,” said Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri. “This feeling really isn’t anything new for us over the course of the last few games. They got off to an early lead and we had to step it up. Now it’s really up for grabs.”

Related: NHL announces second round opening games

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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.

Frederik Andersen produces save of playoffs against Bruins

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Paddle saves are the best. Paddle saves in the playoffs? Even better.

Much has been said about Frederik Andersen and his start to the playoffs through the first two games in Boston. The Dane just wasn’t good enough. And although the two goals he allowed on Monday in Game 3 against the Bruins in weren’t much better, Andersen came through in the clutch to produce the save of the playoffs so far.

Leading 4-2 late in the third period, David Pastrnak looked poised to pull the Bruins to within one. Looked, of course, is the key word here.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

The save was vital down the stretch with the Bruins pressing, and the Maple Leafs are back in the series on the heels of Andersen’s 40 saves.


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

Pastrnak gets hat trick, six points in Bruins battering of Maple Leafs

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Uh oh.

Through two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, no one looks more like a tire fire than the Toronto Maple Leafs. After getting blown out 5-1 on Thursday, you’d at the very least expect some sort of fight back from the Leafs.

But nope.

Instead, the Boston Bruins kept the train rolling, scoring four times on seven shots in the first period, including three goals on five shots against Frederik Andersen — who got the yank after 12:13 — en route to a 7-3 demolition on Saturday night in Boston.

The Bruins hold a 2-0 series lead as they move to Air Canada Centre for Games 3 and 4.

Andersen, who has allowed eight goals on 45 shots in the series thus far, didn’t get a chance to break a sweat. Curtis McElhinney, who came in to replace the Leafs’ No. 1 didn’t fare much better.

And the Maple Leafs can blame David Pastrnak for their troubles.

Pastrnak scored a hat trick and had six points to bring his two-game point total to nine.

Yes, nine. 9. Neuf. IX.

Pastrnak’s line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are responsible for 20 points in two games. Twenty.

  • Pastrnak – four goals, five assists
  • Marchand – one goal, five assists
  • Bergeron – five assists

That is utter dominance. An unstoppable force with no immovable object in sight.

The Maple Leafs need to get their belongings together. Partly, because they’re heading back to Toronto after this game for Game 3 and 4. But also partly because if this is all they can muster in the series, they might as well start packing for the offseason, because it’s coming very, very soon.

They’re down 2-0 in the series and there’s nothing to suggest they have any hope of winning one game, never mind four at this point.

Hell, the Maple Leafs may not even get a lead in this series.

Boston looks unstoppable so far.


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