Gabriel Bourque

Marchand fights Ehlers after big hit in nasty Bruins-Jets game

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The Boston Bruins beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in a nasty affair on Friday. Brad Marchand fighting Nikolaj Ehlers after Ehlers landed a huge hit was the highlight, but far from the only violent moment.

(Watch that series of escalating events in the video above.)

Violence extended beyond Ehlers – Marchand

Again, the violence wasn’t limited to Ehlers vs. Marchand. People dusted off boxing glove emojis for three fights in the second period. Overall, the teams combined for 74 penalty minutes.

Brandon Carlo also fought Gabriel Bourque:

Also, Luca Sbisa dropped the gloves with Karson Kuhlman:

You’d expect this kind of animosity between division or at least conference rivals. Instead, the Bruins and Jets rarely meet. Maybe that’s for the best for everyone’s teeth, knuckles, and brains.

Mayhem overshadows Rask return

The Jets often charge Connor Hellebuyck with saving the day, but they can’t blame Friday’s starter Laurent Brossoit for the loss. In this case, Tuukka Rask was up to the task, making 37 saves as Boston won despite Winnipeg’s 38-25 shots on goal advantage.

Special teams ended up being the biggest difference, beyond a successfully returning Rask. While the Jets squandered their power-play opportunities (0-for-6), the Bruins scored both of their goals on the man advantage (2-for-4).

It’s tempting to wonder if Brad Marchand wanted a little pest’s attention, what with all of the attention going Matthew Tkachuk’s way. Instead, it just seemed like Marchand was enraged by a big, hard hit by Ehlers. Oh well, if you cannot always get the juiciest narratives, at least there’s the carnage of all of those fights.

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.

Preds re-sign Bourque: one year, $866,250

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RFA forward Gabriel Bourque accepted his qualifying offer from Nashville on Thursday, locking him into a one-year deal that pays $866,250.

Bourque, 24, has been a regular lineup fixture in Nashville over the last two seasons. After scoring 11 goals in just 34 games during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, he set career highs in ’13-14 in assists (17) and points (26).

Last year, though, was a bit of a step back. Bourque only played in 69 games and his TOI dropped to 12:01 per night. He also finished with just three goals and a minus-13 rating.

It’ll be interesting to see where Bourque fits next season. Forwards Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, Mike Santorelli and Rich Clune are all either gone or likely to go elsewhere, but the club did add Cody Hodgson and Steve Moses.

Slumping Preds lose Nystrom (lower body) for one month

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Losers of five straight, the Nashville Predators got more bad news on Friday as Eric Nystrom was ruled out for four weeks with a lower-body ailment.

Nystrom, 32, was hurt during Tuesday’s loss to New Jersey and held out of last night’s defeat to the Isles. A checking forward that played largely in a fourth-line role, Nystrom had seven goals and 12 points in 60 games this year, averaging over 13 minutes per game.

With Nystrom out, the Preds look as though they’ll roll with a fourth line of Paul Gaustad, Taylor Beck and Gabriel Bourque. It’s possible the team could fill Nystrom’s roster spot by recalling someone from AHL Milwaukee, possibly Viktor Stalberg.

Fisher ‘definitely’ wants to re-sign in Nashville

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Last week, an ESPN report claimed the Predators started contract negotiations with veteran centers Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher.

This week, Fisher expressed his desire to stick in Nashville.

“I love the city and I love the guys here in the organization,” he explained, per The Tennessean. “It’s been great. Hopefully the business part of things will take care of itself, but I definitely want to be part of it for sure.”

One would think Nashville feels the same way. Fisher, 34, is in the last of a two-year, $8.4 million deal with a $4.2 million cap hit. Though he’s only played 33 games this year due to a ruptured Achilles, Fisher has been great — he’s scored 13 goals and 25 points while averaging 18:23 TOI per night.

(What’s more, Fisher is averaging .76 points per game, the highest total of his 16-year career.)

In terms of their financial future, the Preds should be able to make Fisher a reasonable offer. A hometown discount is definitely on the table — in addition to spending the last five years in Nashville, Fisher’s wife, musician Carrie Underwood, is hugely popular in the city — though it’s worth pointing out the team does have a ton of free agents to deal with this summer.

In addition to Ribeiro and Fisher, the likes of Matt Cullen, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Calle Jarnkrok, Olli Jokinen, Gabriel Bourque, Anton Volchenkov and Taylor Beck are all due for new contracts, though it’s safe to assume veterans like Volchenkov, Cullen and Jokinen could be allowed to walk.

The big question with Fisher, it seems, is if he’ll be able to score enough money from Nashville as he would on the open market, where the center position projects to be thin.

Hutton, Predators shutout Penguins

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Roman Josi had a goal and an assist and Carter Hutton made 21 saves as the Nashville Predators blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 Sunday afternoon.

With the win, the Predators avoided a third straight loss.

The game marked the return of James Neal to Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old was held off the score sheet while playing 15:09 in the win.

Gabriel Bourque, Eric Nystrom and Mike Fisher had the other goals for Nashville, who moves into a tie with the Anaheim Ducks for top spot in the Western Conference. The Preds have a game in hand on the Ducks.

“It was a real good first and a real good third,” said Predators coach Peter Laviolette. “We lost a little bit with the penalties in the second. We went to the box too many times. We need to be a little more disciplined than that. When that happens, it takes the roll out of the bench.

“In the second, the PK did a real nice job, I thought.”

Rookie Filip Forsberg had two assists in the win.

The Penguins shutout the Predators 3-0 in the only other meeting between the two clubs this season on Oct. 25.

“I think the start obviously hurt us,” said Sidney Crosby. “It wasn’t a terrible start. We made some mistakes that end up in the back of our net and then we’re playing uphill from there, so we still had a lot of time to get back into the game, but we have to find a way to score goals.”

Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves in the loss.

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who was recalled Saturday, is expected to play during the Penguins upcoming three-game western Canadian road trip, which begins Wednesday in Edmonton.