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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: MassMutual NHL East Division

Sometime in the last however many days (or perhaps years, maybe even centuries, for some, as it felt) the calendar went from reading “March 2020” to “March 2021”, then April and now May.

Between then and now, the Tampa Bay Lightning were crowned Stanley Cup champions in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final over the Dallas Stars in six games after last year’s playoffs were held inside a bubble (well, technically two bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto before coming together in the former).

Then a somewhat regular-looking 56-game 2020-21 season took place as the National Hockey League and the rest of the world started returning to a sense of normalcy from January through now– getting vaccinated and seeing the light at the end of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.

Resiliency in life cannot be understated.

That– even after so much loss and millions of deaths around the world– the course of nature goes on.

There is still a lot of grieving to be done, a pandemic ongoing and tensions rising around the globe, yet here we are, arguing over who will win one game– the next four games, a series– the Stanley Cup.

We, as hockey fans, have regressed to the mean. Our veins are pulsing as we hit “tweet” arguing between Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens fans for the first time since 1979.

Our humanity goes on.

Make no qualms about it, the 2020-21 season was one of the hardest seasons on all of the players in the NHL.

Their seemingly lavish lifestyles were disrupted by isolation on road trips, isolation in COVID protocol and isolation from so many family members and friends that may not have been able to go see them play or be around at home due to local rules, regulations or the mere fact that a player is single and living on their own.

No, there are no heroes. Only people.

Even hockey players.

As the dawn of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs arises, we’ll call their clutch goals, big hits and key saves “heroic”, but after all, we’re just watching 10 skaters and two goalies on the ice at any given time play a game at the highest level that so few are ever so privileged to play.

They’re making memories among their teammates on the ice that we’ll never be able to experience.

We’ll never be able to see it from their eyes– until, at least, nano camera technology that can be worn in a contact lens becomes mainstream in sports anyway– but we’ll watch the game with our own eyes and try to memorize every little detail of a play as we try to recreate it in driveways, streets and ice rinks in our own town or others.

It’s time.

Let’s hockey together, friends.


Four teams in each division made the postseason.

The best team facing the fourth best team, the second best team taking on the third best team– the winners of the First Round will face each other in the Second Round staying within their own division as they’ve done through 56 regular season games.

Each division will produce one winner heading to the Stanley Cup Semifinal in light of a Conference Finals round in usual years.

The Semifinal will reseed based on how the four remaining teams finished in regular season points standings with the first best team taking on the fourth, as well as the second best team facing the third best team in a series narrowing down the field to the 2021 Stanley Cup Finalists as a result.

Neither the Prince of Wales Trophy nor the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl will be awarded this year.

No trophies, just vibes (until the Stanley Cup, that is).


(1) Pittsburgh Penguins (37-16-3, 77 points) vs (4) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)

Pittsburgh: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 56 games played, .634 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders are facing each other for the sixth time in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series with the Islanders holding the lead in all time series wins, 4-1.

New York beat Pittsburgh in seven games (4-3) in the 1975 Wales Conference Quarterfinal, in five games (3-2) in the 1982 Patrick Division Semifinal, in seven games (4-3) in the 1993 Patrick Division Final and in four games (4-0) in the 2019 First Round.

The Penguins beat the Islanders in six games (4-2) in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quaterfinal, meanwhile.

The Pens are making their 36th postseason appearance, while the Isles enter their 27th postseason in franchise history.

Pittsburgh was led by Sidney Crosby (24-38–62 totals in 55 games played) in the regular season, with Jake Guentzel (23-34–57 totals in 56 GP) and Kris Letang (7-38–45 totals in 55 GP) rounding out the top-three scorers on the Penguins’ roster in 2020-21.

Crosby and the Pens cruised to an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games and an impressive 22-4-2 record on home ice this season, which bodes well for their return to the playoffs after missing out on First Round action last season thanks to an early exit on behalf of the Canadiens in four games (3-1) in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier.

Among active members of the current roster, Crosby leads the Penguins with 68-121–189 totals in 168 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Evgeni Malkin– suffering from a lower body injury as of late– has 63-106–169 totals in 166 career postseason games.

Letang brings up the rear to round-out the top-three playoff performers currently on the roster with 80 points (21 goals, 59 assists) in 136 playoff games.

In the regular season, Pittsburgh relied on Tristan Jarry for a 25-9-3 record as a starter in 39 games played (38 starts) and two shutouts, as well as a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

Casey DeSmith (11-7-0 in 20 games, 17 starts, 2.54 goals-against average, .912 save percentage, two shutouts) served as Jarry’s backup and even Maxime Lagacé made an appearance, recording a win in his only start, as well as a shutout.

When it comes to playoff experience, only Jarry has ever touched the ice in a Stanley Cup Playoff game– earning one start in a loss, as well as a 1.02 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.

At the other end of the rink, the Islanders were led by Mathew Barzal in scoring with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 55 games, as Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games) trailed the prolific 23-year-old center with the second-most points on the team in the 2020-21 regular season.

Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 games) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) were tied for the third-most points in team scoring for New York.

Isles captain, Anders Lee, had his season cut short by a knee injury that will keep him out of contention through the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Islanders went 3-4-3 in their last 10 games as they backed themselves into the postseason.

Among active players on New York’s current roster, Bailey leads his teammates in postseason scoring with 10-27–37 totals in 52 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Nelson (16-13–29 in 48 games) and newcomer, Travis Zajac (11-17–28 totals in 57 games) round out the top-three playoff performers entering the Islanders’ 2021 postseason run.

Zajac was acquired along with Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils ahead of the 2021 trade deadline back in April.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov led the way for the Islanders with a Vezina Trophy worthy season, amassing a 19-11-4 record in 36 games played (35 starts) to go with seven shutouts, a 2.04 goals-against average a .929 save percentage.

Varlamov and Colorado Avalanche netminder, Philipp Grubauer, led the league in shutouts in 2020-21, while Vegas Golden Knights duo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner took home the William M. Jennings Trophy, having allowed the fewest goals against this season.

Meanwhile, Ilya Sorokin served as Varlamov’s backup in his first NHL season and had a 13-6-3 record in 22 games played (21 starts), as well as three shutouts, a 2.17 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

As Sorokin just completed his first season at the game’s highest level of competition, only Varlamov has had postseason experience and is expected to be New York’s starter in their 2021 First Round matchup with Pittsburgh.

Varlamov has a 24-20 record in 46 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (44 starts), as well as four shutouts, a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in that span.


The Penguins went 6-2-0, while the Islanders went 2-4-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Pittsburgh outscoring New York, 26-19, in that span.

That alone should give a good indication of how Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, is back on his regular routine and how Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, will need to get crafty to drag Pittsburgh’s offense down a bit more to the level of New York’s “defense first” mentality.

Though it might be easier to slow down Crosby’s game than it is to ease Edmonton Oilers phenom, Connor McDavid, from his carousel around opponents, Pittsburgh has a deeper roster than New York’s stagnant core.

Jeff Carter alone has made a bigger impact on the Pens so far than Palmieri and Zajac combined for the Islanders.

That said, New York has the historical high ground over the Penguins in the playoffs– especially in light of their 2019 First Round sweep.

This time around, however, expect Pittsburgh to get the job done in six games– just long enough to get a rhythm going into an epic clash with either the Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins in the Second Round.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6th

4-3 F/SO PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 11th

4-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 18th

3-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 20th

4-3 F/OT PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 27th

2-0 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 28th

6-3 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 27th

2-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 29th

Schedule:

5/16- Game 1 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

5/18- Game 2 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/20- Game 3 PIT @ NYI 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

5/22- Game 4 PIT @ NYI 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

5/24- Game 5 NYI @ PIT*

5/26- Game 6 PIT @ NYI*

5/28- Game 7 NYI @ PIT*

*If necessary

(2) Washington Capitals (36-15-5, 77 points) vs (3) Boston Bruins (33-16-7, 73 points)

Washington: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

Boston: 56 games played, .652 points percentage, 25 regulation wins.

The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are meeting each other in a playoff series for the fourth time with the Capitals holding the lead in all time series wins, 2-1.

Washington beat Boston in six games (4-2) in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and in seven games (4-3) in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.

Prior to the last two postseason series meetings between the two clubs, the Bruins swept the Capitals (4-0) in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

The Caps are making their 31st appearance, while the B’s are set to embark on their 74th appearance in the postseason in franchise history.

Washington was led by Nicklas Backstrom (15-38–53 totals in 55 games played) in scoring this season, while John Carlson had the second-most points and T.J. Oshie rounded out the top-three in team scoring.

Carlson had 44 points (10 goals, 34 assists) in 52 games, while Oshie notched 22-21–43 totals in 53 games for the Capitals in 2020-21.

While battling injury at times this season, Washington captain, Alex Ovechkin, and Co. went 7-2-1 in their last 10 games of the regular season, amassing a 17-8-3 record on home ice.

Ovechkin leads his current teammates in active career postseason scoring with 69-62–131 totals in 136 Stanley Cup Playoff games (all with the Capitals), while Backstrom is second and former Bruin captain, turned Washington defender, Zdeno Chara, has the third-most career Stanley Cup Playoff points on the Capitals’ current roster.

Backstrom has 107 points (36 goals, 71 assists) in 128 career playoff games, while Chara has 18-52–70 totals in 195 career postseason games between the Ottawa Senators (45 games) and Boston (150 games).

In the regular season, Washington relied on the emergence of Vitek Vanecek as their starter with Ilya Samsonov serving as the Caps backup and Craig Anderson getting a handful of appearances mixed in.

Vanecek led the team with a 21-10-4 record in 37 games (36 starts), two shutouts, a 2.70 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage, while Samsonov amassed a 13-4-1 record in 19 games (18 starts) as Vanecek’s backup.

Samsonov had a 2.69 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage to go along with a pair of shutouts, while Anderson went 2-1-0 in four games played (two starts) and yielded a 2.13 goals-against average, as well as a .915 save percentage in that span.

Though Anderson is the only goaltender on the roster with previous playoff experience– including a 23-22 record in 46 games (46 starts) to go along with four shutouts, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in the process– Vanecek will likely be the starter for the Caps for the foreseeable future.

Especially with Samsonov still in COVID protocol on Friday (at the time of this writing).

Brad Marchand led the Bruins in scoring with 29-40–69 totals in 53 games this season, while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were tied for the second-most points with 48 points each.

Bergeron had 23-25–48 totals in 54 games, while Pastrnak had 20-28–48 totals in 48 games after getting a late start to the season due to offseason surgery.

Meanwhile, David Krejci, for those wondering, had 8-36–44 totals in 51 games and had the fourth-most points on the roster this season.

Boston’s current career postseason scoring leaders shapes up to be exactly what you expect– Krejci leads over Bergeron and Marchand.

Krejci has 40-75–115 totals in 145 career Stanley Cup Playoff games entering 2021, while Bergeron has 111 points (42 goals, 69 assists) in 149 playoff games and Marchand has 95 points (37 goals, 58 assists) in 121 postseason games.

The trio of Bruins define an era of consistent success not seen since the days of Phil Esposito in the spoked-B and are in search of their second Stanley Cup ring.

Boston utilized four goaltenders this season due to injury and COVID protocol effecting the season as Tuukka Rask led the team with a 15-5-2 record in 24 games (24 starts)– amassing a 2.28 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts in the process.

Rask’s “average” season was balanced out by Jaroslav Halak’s “average” season as a backup– posting a 9-6-4 record in 19 games (17 starts), as well as a 2.53 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and two shutouts in that span.

Despite Halak’s best efforts, the emergence of Jeremy Swayman has led to Swayman moving up in the depth charts from surefire starter in Providence (AHL) to current NHL backup (with the ultimate goal of taking over for Rask someday as the Bruins transition from their franchise goaltender to their 22-year-old first year professional).

Swayman had a 7-3-0 record in 10 games (10 starts) and put up a 1.50 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .945 save percentage in his first taste of the NHL.

Dan Vladar, meanwhile, contributed where it mattered most and, despite one, 8-1, loss on the second night of back-to-back games against Washington, managed to have a 2-2-1 record in five games played (five starts) with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage for Boston.

With Halak relegated to the third string goaltender role, his 17-20 record in 39 postseason games (37 starts) and 2.48 goals-against average, as well as his .919 career playoff save percentage should remain untouched.

Sure, Vladar made a relief appearance in the 2020 Second Round, but Rask is Boston’s starter, after all.

And for good reason too– since Rask has a 51-42 record in 93 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (93 starts), as well as seven shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in that span.

No. 40 in black and gold is two wins away from tying Gerry Cheevers for the most postseason wins in franchise history (53).


The Capitals went 4-4-0, while the Bruins went 4-2-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Boston outscoring Washington, 26-25, in that span.

As noted, don’t let too many results in their head-to-head matchups from this season fool you.

The Bruins dressed the equivalents of their AHL affiliate (Providence Bruins) about two times against the Capitals this season.

The first time was due to a ton of injuries and the second time happened to be another final night of a back-to-back matchup in Boston’s schedule and the end of the regular season with both teams having clinched a playoff berth and not eligible for mobility in the standings.

That said, the B’s and Caps are pretty evenly matched.

Vanecek has the chance to ride the waves of his breakout season, while Rask is the steady hand that’s been the model of consistency in the crease this time of year.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, should get the most out of Krejci, Craig Smith and Taylor Hall to round out his top-six forwards, while Peter Laviolette can rely on Chara’s past knowledge of Boston’s systems to utilize as a strength for Washington.

That said, the Bruins should try to wrap things up in six games and move on to the Second Round before worrying about what a Game 7 would look like on the road for the first time since 2011.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/OT WSH at Capital One Arena on Jan. 30th

5-3 BOS at Capital One Arena on Feb. 1st

2-1 F/SO WSH at TD Garden on March 1st

5-1 BOS at TD Garden on March 5th

4-2 BOS at Capital One Arena on April 8th

8-1 WSH at TD Garden on April 11th

6-3 BOS at TD Garden on April 18th

2-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on May 11th

Schedule:

5/15- Game 1 BOS @ WSH 7:15 PM ET on NBC, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/17- Game 2 BOS @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/19- Game 3 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS

5/21- Game 4 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS

5/23- Game 5 BOS @ WSH*

5/25- Game 6 WSH @ BOS*

5/27- Game 7 BOS @ WSH*

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NHL Nick's Net

Rangers top Bruins, 5-4, in New York’s season finale

A flurry of offense in the third period spurred the New York Rangers to a close, 5-4, win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.

Keith Kinkaid (3-2-1, 2.59 goals-against average, .898 save percentage in nine games played) made 28 saves on 30 shots faced prior to being replaced by Igor Shesterkin (16-14-3, 2.62 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 35 games played) for the win due to an injury in the third period.

Shesterkin made seven saves on nine shots in relief of Kinkaid in a little over eleven minutes of action on Saturday.

Boston netminder, Tuukka Rask (14-5-2, 2.29 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 23 games played) made 18 saves on 23 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 32-15-7 (71 points) on the season, but remain in command of 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division standings, while the Rangers finished their 2020-21 season with a 27-23-6 record, 60 points and 5th place in the same division.

The B’s finished their regular season series against New York with a 5-3-0 record in their eight matchups.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Charlie Coyle (upper body) on Saturday, though Kase returned to practice with the rest of the team on Friday and Coyle remains “day-to-day” according to head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

Cassidy also mentioned that the B’s are taking it “one step at a time” regarding Kase’s return to the lineup in the remaining pair of games in the regular season.

Cassidy kept his forward lines from Thursday intact, while technically jumbling the defensive pairings from puck drop Thursday to puck drop Saturday despite actually putting them together during Thursday night’s, 4-0, shutout win against New York.

As such, Matt Grzelcyk was paired with Charlie McAvoy from the start of the action on the first pairing, while Mike Reilly was partnered with Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon suited up with Kevan Miller.

Jeremy Swayman served as Rask’s backup on Saturday in what was expected to be Rask’s final start before the postseason, while Jaroslav Halak was given the afternoon off in the press box.

Halak joined Coyle, Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Moore, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Jarred Tinordi on Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players on Saturday.

On Monday, TD Garden will increase their limited seating capacity from 12% to 25% in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans– just in time for the final home game of the regular season, as well as the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Grzelcyk cut a rut to the penalty box for holding and presented the Rangers with the first power play of the afternoon at 11:54 of the first period.

New York failed to convert on the power play, however.

Late in the period, Morgan Barron caught Taylor Hall with an errant knee– bringing the Bruins winger down with a trip and earning a minor infraction in the process at 19:32.

Boston’s power play spilled over into the middle frame, however, as the B’s couldn’t get anything going on the skater advantage as the horn signaled the start of the first intermission.

After 20 minutes of action on Saturday afternoon, the two clubs were even on the scoreboard, 0-0, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 9-7.

The Rangers dominated in blocked shots (10-1), giveaways (10-2) and hits (9-5), while the Bruins led in takeaways (8-5) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams were 0/1 in the power play after the first period.

K’Andre Miller (5) floated a shot past Rask with lots of traffic screening the Bruins netminder in the slot to give the Rangers a, 1-0, lead at 6:21 of the second period off an attacking zone faceoff after Boston iced the puck.

Justin Richards (1) and Filip Chytil (14) tallied the assists on Miller’s goal.

With the primary assist on the goal, Richards picked up his first career National Hockey League point in his NHL debut after amassing 4-7–11 totals in 20 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) this season in his first professional season after spending three years (2017-20) at University Minnesota-Duluth.

Late in the period, Mika Zibanejad hooked David Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their second power play of the game at 14:04.

Once more, however, Boston was unsuccessful on the skater advantage.

In the waning minutes of the second period, the McAvoy mustered a shot towards the goal that rebounded to this season’s NESN 7th Player Award winner, Nick Ritchie (15) for the garbage goal on the doorstep– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

McAvoy (24) and Sean Kuraly (6) had the assists on Ritchie’s career-high 15th goal of the season at 18:12 of the second period.

Through two periods of play, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, despite Boston holding an advantage in shots on goal, 28-15, including a, 19-5, advantage in the second period alone.

New York led in blocked shots (17-2) and giveaways (10-5), while Boston led in faceoff win% (54-46).

The two squads had 11 takeaways and 14 hits each, while the Rangers were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Pastrnak (20) kicked off the third period with a one-timed redirection goal 21 seconds into the final frame for his 200th career NHL goal– giving the B’s their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Brad Marchand (39) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal as No. 88 in black and gold became the fastest player in franchise history to reach the 200-goal plateau in 437 career games (all with Boston)– beating Bobby Orr’s previous mark of 200 goals in 502 games with the club.

About five minutes later, however, Zibanejad (23) answered back with a one-timer goal of his own while the Rangers dominated possession in the attacking zone.

Pavel Buchnevich (26) and Ryan Strome (34) had the assists on Zibanejad’s first goal of the afternoon as New York tied the game, 2-2, at 5:22 of the third period.

A little over two minutes later, Alexis Lafrenière (12) caught a pass, deked and released a backhand shot over Rask’s glove side to put the Rangers ahead, 3-2, on the scoreboard.

Anthony Bitetto (3) and Buchnevich (27) recorded the assists as the Blueshirts scored a pair of goals in a 2:04 span at 7:25 of the third period.

Shortly thereafter, Pastrnak sent a shot wide of the net on a breakaway as Kinkaid challenged the Boston forward and appeared to overextend something as the Rangers goaltender left the game with what looked like a lower body injury.

Shesterkin came in to replace Kinkaid and finished off the game, as well as the rest of the regular season as New York’s goaltender.

Almost midway into the third period, Vitali Kravtsov (2) gave the Rangers a two-goal lead with another one-timer off of an attacking zone faceoff after Lafrenière and Buchnevich generated momentum for New York having just blown past Boston defenders, McAvoy and Grzelcyk prior to the whistle.

Strome (35) and Zac Jones (4) had the assists on Kravtsov’s goal and the Rangers led, 4-2, at 9:36.

The only penalty in the third period occurred when Bitetto got a hold on Hall at 13:17, yielding another power play to the Bruins.

Boston’s power play made decent work of the ensuing skater advantage as Marchand batted a puck out of mid-air to keep the rubber biscuit in the offensive zone before a give-and-go with David Krejci, which led to Marchand (28) sliding the puck under Shesterkin’s pad on a backhand goal.

Krejci (33) had the only assist on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 4-3, at 14:08.

Once again, however, Zibanejad (24) answered with his 200th career goal– sniping the puck over Rask’s glove on a catch and release shot to put the Rangers ahead by two-goals once more.

Buchnevich (28) tallied his third assist of the afternoon on Zibanejad’s second goal as New York pulled ahead, 5-3, at 18:07.

With time ticking down, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with about 1:31 remaining in regulation before Patrice Bergeron (23) redirected a shot pass from the bumper in his usual spot to pull Boston to within one.

Grzelcyk (15) and McAvoy (25) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 5-4, at 18:39.

Rask vacated the crease once more with about 1:15 left in the action, but this time the B’s couldn’t muster another goal with the netminder pulled.

At the final horn the Rangers had won, 5-4, and sealed the deal on the victory in their final game of the pandemic truncated 56-game 2020-21 regular season.

Though Boston finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 39-23, both teams had 11 shots apiece in the third period alone.

New York finished Saturday’s effort with the advantage in blocked shots (19-4), giveaways (14-9) and hits (17-16), while the Bruins wrapped up the afternoon leading in faceoff win% (52-48).

The Rangers went 0/1 and the B’s went 1/3 on the power play on Saturday.

The Bruins fell to 8-7-2 (3-4-2 at home) when tied after the first period, 8-10-4 (5-7-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 5-7-3 (0-2-1 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, New York finished 5-6-1 (3-2-1 on the road) when tied after one period, 21-7-2 (10-6-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal and 5-5-3 (3-1-1 on the road) when tied after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins take on the New York Islanders in their final home game of the regular season on Monday before hitting the road for their last game of the 2020-21 regular season against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins down Sabres, 5-2, extend gap with Rangers

The Boston Bruins got the most out of their top-six forwards on Thursday night in a, 5-2, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden as Tuukka Rask (13-4-2, 2.27 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 21 games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots faced in the win.

Sabres netminder, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-2-0, 3.75 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in three games), had 35 saves on 39 shots against in the loss.

Boston improved to 29-14-6 (64 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division– six points ahead of the New York Rangers, who remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Buffalo fell to 13-31-7 (33 points) overall and stagnant in 8th place (last) in the division.

The B’s are now 6-1-0 against the Sabres this season with one more game remaining in their regular season series on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Thursday, while Craig Smith was a game-time decision due to an issue that was resolved prior to warmup with his COVID testing.

As Smith’s issue was absolved, Jake DeBrusk remained a healthy scratch, while B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments among his forwards.

Trent Frederic, Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle made up the third line, while Nick Ritchie, Curtis Lazar and Chris Wagner comprised the fourth line.

Jaroslav Halak served as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off.

Meanwhile, Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players including, Swayman, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, DeBrusk, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Jack Ahcan was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Urho Vaakanainen was also reassigned to Providence on Thursday ahead of Boston’s game against the Sabres.

The P-Bruins season is winding down and will not feature a postseason following it as the American Hockey League announced on Thursday that for the second straight year, there would be no traditional Calder Cup Playoffs.

Only the AHL’s Pacific Division elected to have a playoff tournament to determine a division champion, while the rest of the AHL’s division title winners will simply default to the team that finishes the season with the best regular season record.

Providence is currently 1st in the Atlantic Division with a 14-6-1-1 record on the season.

Meanwhile, starting May 10th (vs. N.Y. Islanders), TD Garden will increase their limited seating capacity from 12% to 25% in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans.

A little over a minute into the action on Thursday night, David Pastrnak (19) rocketed a one-timer past Luukkonen from his typical spot near the faceoff dot on a pass from across the slot to make it, 1-0, Boston at 1:16 of the first period.

Patrice Bergeron (24) and Brad Marchand (33) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s 199th career National Hockey League goal.

Late in the period, Casey Mittelstadt (10) buried a rebound after the Bruins turned the puck over in their own defensive zone and were caught behind the play.

Arttu Ruotsalainen (1) and Rasmus Asplund (3) notched the assists on Mittelstadt’s goal as the Sabres tied the game, 1-1, at 14:09.

Moments later, Buffalo forward, Sam Reinhart, tripped Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 18:05.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, as the final second on the clock was winding down prior to the first intermission, David Krejci (8) sent a one-timer off the post that had eyes off of Luukkonen’s back and trickled into the net to give Boston a, 2-1, lead heading into the first intermission.

Charlie McAvoy (23) and Smith (18) had the primary and secondary assists on Krejci’s power-play goal at 19:59.

After one period, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal, 13-11.

Meanwhile, Buffalo held the advantage in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (4-3), hits (13-9) and faceoff win percentage (59-41). Both teams had two blocked shots apiece while the Sabres had yet to appear on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Lazar interfered with Reinhart and presented the Sabres with their first power play of the night at 5:36 of the second period, but Boston’s penalty kill did its job and went unscathed on the scoreboard.

Late in the middle frame, Rasmus Dahlin hooked Marchand and cut a rut to the penalty box at 14:50, but Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 28-22, in shots on goal, including a, 15-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Sabres maintained a hold in blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (8-4), hits (22-17), while the Bruins led in giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (63-37).

Buffalo was 0/1 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Reinhart (23) tied the action, 2-2, with a quick release from the slot, while Victor Olofsson (17) and Jeff Skinner (6) worked the puck deep into the zone and earned the assists on Reinhart’s goal at 1:43 of the third period.

Almost midway through the final frame, Coyle (6) stole the rubber biscuit in the neutral zone and charged up the ice– forcing his own breakaway into fruition while Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen trailed on his back– before roofing the puck top-shelf for his first goal in 28 games.

Coyle’s individual effort was unassisted and ended the longest scoring drought in his career thus far (nine years) and made it, 3-2, for Boston at 7:58 of the third period.

Moments later, Krejci and Dahlin got tangled up in a bit of a heated exchange in which Krejci was handed a minor for interference and Dahlin received a holding infraction, yielding two minutes of 4-on-4 action at 13:30.

Just as the two clubs resumed 5-on-5 play, Smith worked the puck to Krejci while No. 46 in black and gold broke into the attacking zone by deking around Dahlin, then toe-dragging around Henri Jokiharju before setting up Taylor Hall (7) for the one-timer goal at 16:43.

Hall’s goal gave Boston some insurance with a, 4-2, lead, while Krejci (26) and Smith (19) had the assists.

About a minute later, Connor Clifton, slashed former teammate, Anders Bjork, and presented Buffalo with a power play at 17:47.

Sabres interim head coach, Don Granato, pulled Luukkonen for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Marchand (27) sent the puck into the open net from his own end on a floater of a shot just under the bar for his 31st career shorthanded goal.

Marchand’s empty net goal was unassisted at 18:26 and the Bruins secured the, 5-2, victory as a result at the final horn.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-31, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Buffalo finished the night leading in his (30-24), while the B’s wrapped up Thursday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (9-7), giveaways (10-8) and faceoff win% (59-41).

The Sabres went 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins finished 1/2 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 21-5-3 (10-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 17-0-2 (9-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 20-0-2 (12-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods in 2020-21.

Buffalo, meanwhile, fell to 6-26-2 (3-11-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-20-0 (2-8-0 on the road) when trailing after one and 1-26-2 (0-11-1 on the road) when losing after the second period this season.

The Bruins face the Sabres to kick off the month of May on Saturday afternoon before hitting the road for a pair of games next week in New Jersey against the Devils. Boston went 11-5-1 in the month of April.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Preview: Game 46- Bruins @ Sabres

Friday night at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, the Boston Bruins face the Buffalo Sabres in the second night of back-to-back games while Boston vies for a seventh-straight win in their current winning streak.

The Bruins enter Friday having beaten the Sabres twice this week, most recently on Thursday night in a, 5-1, victory. Buffalo has yet to beat Boston this season as the two teams square off for the sixth time in 2020-21.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, indicated that defender, Kevan Miller, would make a return to the lineup in place of Connor Clifton, while Tuukka Rask would get the start in net on Friday.

Jaroslav Halak is expected to serve as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off in the press box as a healthy scratch after making 29 saves on 30 shots against in Thursday’s win.

Boston will be without Ondrej Kase, Brandon Carlo, John Moore, Trent Frederic and Patrice Bergeron as Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their current road trip, Moore is out for the rest of the season due to a hip injury and Frederic is still recovering from a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Bergeron was withheld from pregame warmup with a lower body injury.

Cassidy told reporters earlier in the week that while Kase is not regressing, he has still yet to return to full capacity at practice and would require some game action before making any swift lineup adjustments down the stretch as the Bruins are inside of 10 games remaining in the regular season after Friday night’s action.

The B’s (27-12-6, 60 points) are 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division entering their 46th game of this season’s 56-game schedule, while Buffalo is last in the division with a 12-28-7 record (31 points).

Boston is 13-6-3 on the road this season and 8-2-0 in their last ten games, while the Sabres are 5-16-4 on home ice and 4-5-1 in their last ten games.

The Bruins are 147-113-29-12 in 301 regular season meetings against the Sabres all time with 966 goals for and 932 goals against in that span.

Boston is 32-25-1-7 in 65 games at KeyBank Center since the building was opened in 1996, though Buffalo has outscored the Bruins, 177-168, in that span.

Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 25-32–57 totals in 43 games, while Bergeron (18-23–41 totals in 48 games) and David Pastrnak (18-23–41 totals in 38 games) round out the top-three in team scoring this season.

Pastrnak is two goals away from his 200th career NHL goal. He has 198-222–420 totals in 428 career NHL games since being drafted by Boston in the 1st round (25th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Sam Reinhart leads the Sabres in scoring with 17-13–30 totals in 45 games this season, while Victor Olofsson (12-15–27 totals in 47 games) and Rasmus Dahlin (4-16–20 totals in 47 games) rank second and third in scoring for Buffalo.

Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) is expected to get the start for the Bruins after having Thursday night off. He had a 32-save shutout in Boston’s, 2-0, win in Buffalo on Monday.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is set to make his National Hockey League debut in the crease for the Sabres since he was drafted in the 2nd round (54th overall) by Buffalo in 2017.

He posted a 1.80 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in six games for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Junior tournament and has a 3.60 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage in 14 games for the Rochester Americans (AHL) this season.

Boston is currently 2-0-0 on their five-game road trip with a pair of games in Pittsburgh after Friday night’s action in Buffalo before returning home to face the Sabres to close out the month of April.

Expected lineups

Boston Bruins

63 Brad Marchand (A) 13 Charlie Coyle 88 David Pastrnak

71 Taylor Hall 46 David Krejci (A) 12 Craig Smith

21 Nick Ritchie 20 Curtis Lazar 74 Jake DeBrusk

81 Anton Blidh 52 Sean Kuraly 14 Chris Wagner

48 Matt Grzlecyk 73 Charlie McAvoy

6 Mike Reilly 86 Kevan Miller (A)

55 Jeremy Lauzon 44 Steven Kampfer

40 Tuukka Rask

41 Jaroslav Halak

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic (illness), Greg McKegg, Brandon Carlo (upper body), John Moore (hip), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Kevan Miller (right knee)

Buffalo Sabres

53 Jeff Skinner 23 Sam Reinhart 68 Victor Olofsson

74 Rasmus Asplund 37 Casey Mittelstadt 72 Tage Thompson

96 Anders Bjork 24 Dylan Cozens 25 Arttu Ruotsalainen

13 Tobias Rieder 15 Riley Sheahan 91 Drake Caggiula

54 Mattias Samuelsson 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

26 Rasmus Dahlin 10 Henri Jokiharju

78 Jacob Bryson 3 Will Borgen

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

31 Dustin Tokarski

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jack Eichel (lower body), Cody Eakin, Colin Miller, Linus Ullmark, Carter Hutton, Matt Irwin

Goaltending stats entering Thursday

Boston Bruins

1 Jeremy Swayman 5-1-0 in 6 GP, 1.65 GAA, .943 SV%, 1 SO

40 Tuukka Rask 10-4-2 in 17 GP, 2.35 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO

41 Jaroslav Halak 9-5-3 in 17 GP, 2.44 GAA, .910 SV%, 2 SO

70 Callum Booth 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

80 Dan Vladar 2-2-1 in 5 GP, 3.40 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

Buffalo Sabres

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

31 Dustin Tokarski 2-7-2 in 11 GP, 3.23 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO

32 Michael Houser 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

35 Linus Ullmark 9-6-3 in 20 GP, 2.63 GAA, .917 SV%, 0 SO

40 Carter Hutton 1-10-1 in 13 GP, 3.47 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

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NHL Nick's Net

Rask earns 51st career shutout in, 2-0, win in Buffalo

Brad Marchand and Connor Clifton scored the only goals while Tuukka Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) made 32 saves in a, 2-0, shutout win for the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night at KeyBank Center.

Rask picked up his first shutout of the season and 51st of his career, while Dustin Tokarski (2-6-2, 3.05 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 10 games played) stopped 39 out of 41 shots faced for a .951 save percentage in the loss for Buffalo.

The Bruins improved to 26-12-6 (58 points) on the season and in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Sabres fell to 12-27-7 (31 points) overall and in last place in the same division.

The B’s also improved to 4-0-0 against Buffalo this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Kevan Miller (undisclosed) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their five-game road trip, while Miller traveled with the club and is “better” according to head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

After missing 18 games this season, most recently due to an upper body injury sustained on April 10th in Philadelphia, Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on defense.

Jakub Zboril was back too after missing a game due to a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Cassidy made no changes among his forwards, while slotting Grzelcyk in on the left side of the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and moving Jeremy Lauzon to the third pairing with Zboril.

Mike Reilly and Clifton remained paired on the second defensive pairing while Jarred Tinordi and Steven Kampfer joined Frederic, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Tinordi and Miller on Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Ahcan and Vaakanainen were recalled to the taxi squad depending on your source for American Hockey League transactions (CapFriendly, the AHL transactions page itself, TSN or CBS Sports), meanwhile Zach Senyshyn was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) over the weekend with Dan Vladar.

Editor’s note: Also apparently McKegg’s been erroneously forgotten from the taxi squad in these lineup notes/recaps since early April. My bad. Please forgive me, Greg.

Midway through the opening frame, Marchand (24) backhanded a rebound over Tokarski while the Sabres goaltender reached to trap the loose puck.

David Pastrnak (22) and Reilly (22) had the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 8:06 of the first period.

Moments later, Jake DeBrusk cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking former teammate turned newest skater in Buffalo, Anders Bjork at 11:17.

The Sabres weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

There were no more goals or penalties as the first period came to a close with Boston ahead, 1-0, on the scoreboard and both teams tied, 9-9, in shots on goal.

Buffalo held the lead in takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (3-2), while the B’s had the advantage in hits (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (69-31) after one period.

Both teams had five blocked shots each, while the Sabres were 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Clifton (1) threw a shot on goal from the point that trickled through Tokarski and was kicked in by the Buffalo netminder, giving Boston a two-goal lead.

Sean Kuraly (3) and Curtis Lazar (5) had the assists on Clifton’s first goal since Nov. 19, 2019, and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 3:03 of the second period.

Midway through the middle period, Marchand elbowed Henri Jokiharju and received a minor infraction at 11:04 as a result.

Buffalo’s power play was short lived, however, as Rasmus Ristolainen laid out Lauzon in front of the net for no apparent reason at 12:10, resulting in 4-on-4 action for about 56 seconds before the B’s had an abbreviated power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Tuesday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 27-15, including an, 18-6, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in hits (13-6) and faceoff win% (65-35), while the Sabres led in blocked shots (11-9), takeaways (7-4) and giveaways (6-4).

Buffalo was 0/2 and Boston was 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals scored in the third period, though there were plenty of chances to score on the skater advantage as multiple penalties were called on both clubs in the final frame.

Drake Caggiula interfered with Pastrnak and presented Boston with the first power play of the third period at 1:05, but the Bruins were unsuccessful in assuring themselves of complete dominance over the Sabres.

Instead, McAvoy roughed Jeff Skinner at 8:03, but Buffalo’s power play was cut short when Sam Reinhart tripped Clifton and sent the Bruins defender face first into the boards as a result.

The two squads skated at 4-on-4 for a little under 90 seconds as Reinhart cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:30 of the third period.

Moments later, Craig Smith caught Mattias Samuelsson with a high stick at 12:41, but Buffalo couldn’t muster anything on the power play.

Nor could the Sabres score when Nick Ritchie slashed Jacob Bryson at 16:59 and Lauzon followed his teammate in the box at 17:26 for roughing Victor Olofsson along the wall.

No, Buffalo, despite having a 6-on-3 advantage– having pulled Tokarski for an extra attacker– could not establish much of an attacking zone presence while on the power play late in the game.

The team looked all but defeated before they were, in fact, actually defeated.

At the final horn, not only had the Bruins killed off their minors, but they actually were on the power play as time expired since the Sabres had seven skaters on the ice while in possession of the puck at 19:06– yielding an automatic delay of game penalty for too many skaters.

At the final horn, Boston shutout Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-32, as well, despite the Sabres leading in shots in the third period alone, 17-14.

Buffalo finished the action leading in blocked shots (15-11), while the B’s wrapped up Tuesday night leading in hits (15-9) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Both teams had seven giveaways aside, while the Sabres were 0/6 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play.

Boston improved to 18-4-3 (9-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 15-0-2 (7-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 17-0-2 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo dropped to 5-22-2 (2-14-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-17-0 (1-11-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-23-2 (1-14-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins take on the Sabres in Buffalo on Thursday and Friday before venturing to Pittsburgh next week and hosting Buffalo to close out the month of April. Boston is 1-0-0 on their current five-game road trip.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Trio of Bruins record pair of goals in eventful, 6-3, win over Capitals

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a pair of goals in a, 6-3, win for the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

A pair of milestones were met for both the team (21,000 goals) and Marchand (700 career points) as Tuukka Rask (10-4-2, 2.36 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 17 games played) made 30 saves on 33 shots against for Boston en route to the win.

Washington goaltender, Vitek Vanecek (17-9-3, 2.77 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 31 games played) stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 25-12-6 (56 points) and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals fell to 29-12-4 (62 points) overall and in command of the division lead.

Boston also improved to 4-1-2 against Washington this season with the win.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed), Jakub Zboril (non-COVID protocol related illness) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Grzelcyk may travel with the team this week as the B’s hit the road, while Miller remains day-to-day and Halak could rejoin the group on Monday at practice.

Head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one lineup change on defense with Zboril out due to an illness, Jarred Tinordi took Zboril’s spot on the third defensive pairing for Boston.

Frederic, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Grzelcyk, Jack Ahcan, Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Miller were on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players for Boston on Sunday, while Dan Vladar was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Saturday.

Ahcan had been reassigned to Providence, but was recalled to the taxi squad on Saturday ahead of Sunday afternoon’s matinée matchup with Washington.

The Capitals were without Zdeno Chara (lower body) after he blocked a shot in Saturday’s, 6-3, win in Philadelphia against the Flyers. The former Bruins captain received a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first game back in Boston with fans on April 11th.

Dmitry Orlov hooked Marchand 35 seconds into the action Sunday afternoon, presenting the Bruins with the game’s first power play.

Boston did not convert on the skater advantage, however.

Midway through the opening frame, Connor Clifton caught Lars Eller with a high stick that resulted in a four-minute double minor infraction. Washington had an extended power play at 8:53 of the first period as a result.

Late in the penalty kill, the Bruins worked the puck out of their own zone, whereby Capitals defender, John Carlson, went to battle along the endboards with Marchand for possession.

Marchand got just enough of a touch on the puck as Carlson chipped it off of the Bruins winger’s stick prior to the rubber biscuit deflecting to an open space in the slot whereby Bergeron (17) scooped it up and pulled it to his backhand for a shot that beat Vanecek and gave Boston the game’s first goal.

Marchand (30) had the only assist Bergeron’s shorthanded goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 1-0, at 12:02 of the first period on their eighth shorthanded goal this season– tying the Montreal Canadiens for the most in 2020-21.

Less than a couple minutes later, Krejci (4) received a pass through the low slot and one-timed a shot past Vanecek after Craig Smith and Clifton did a tremendous job working the puck low into the zone, then over to No. 46 in black and gold.

Clifton (6) and Smith (16) tallied the assists on Krejci’s goal as the Bruins took a, 2-0, lead at 13:56.

Late in the period, Mike Reilly got beat while pinching at the blue line, thus leaving Charlie McAvoy as the lone B’s defender in his own zone, whereby Nicklas Backstrom waltzed around the young Boston skater with a deke before getting a shot on Rask.

T.J. Oshie (15) scored on the rebound to cut Boston’s lead in half and get the Capitals on the board, 2-1.

Backstrom (32) had the only assist on the goal at 19:50.

After the horn to signify the end of the first period, Garnet Hathaway delivered a late check on Jeremy Lauzon along the boards.

The Bruins did not take kindly to Hathaway’s rejection of the unwritten “code” and a scrum ensued.

Nic Dowd and Curtis Lazar each received roughing minors as a result, yielding penalties at 20:00 of the first period and a pair of minutes at 4-on-4 to start the middle frame.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Capitals, 14-10, in shots on goal.

Washington held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3) and hits (16-13), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (72-28) after one period.

Both teams had one giveaway each, while the Caps were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Clifton caught Conor Sheary with a high stick at 2:53 of the second period and presented the Capitals with an extended power play as a result of Sheary going down to the ice with an injury, resulting in a double-minor infraction for the young Bruins defender.

Washington capitalized on the ensuing power play as Backstrom dished a pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the net for the setup to Oshie (16) for a one-timer over Rask’s glove on the short side– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Kuznetsov (17) and Backstrom (33) had the assists on Oshie’s second goal of the afternoon– and a power-play goal at that– at 3:48 of the second period.

About a minute later, Anthony Mantha (15) scored on a catch and release shot past Rask’s stick side while the Caps had a net front presence to screen the Bruins goaltender.

Orlov (8) and Eller (14) had the assists on Mantha’s power-play goal as the Capitals took the lead for the first time Sunday afternoon, 3-2, at 4:54.

The Bruins didn’t take long to respond, however, as Marchand (22) was fed a pass from David Pastrnak and beat Vanecek with a backhand shot to tie the game, 3-3, at 6:33.

Pastrnak (19) and Bergeron (22) had the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the game.

Midway through the period, Hathaway was assessed a holding minor at 13:55 and the B’s went on the power play as a result. Boston did not score on the resulting power play, however.

The Bruins caught the Capitals in the vulnerable minute after a skater advantage, though, as Krejci (5) received a pass and held the puck long enough for Orlov to dive and slide away before sending a quick shot over Vanecek’s glove side.

Smith (17) and Taylor Hall (18) notched the assists on Krejci’s second goal of the afternoon and the Bruins led, 4-3, at 16:02 of the second period.

About a minute later, Bergeron (18) had his second goal of the game on a one-timer from Pastrnak to give Boston another two-goal lead, 5-3, at 17:45.

Pastrnak (20) and Marchand (31) had the assists on the Bergeron’s goal, which marked the 21,000th goal in franchise history.

Late in the period, Rask had a broken stick and was playing with about half of a paddle and blade (goaltenders are allowed to play with a broken stick, for the record), which led to Reilly hooking Oshie to prevent Washington from establishing an attacking zone presence.

In the process, Reilly received a hooking minor and presented the Caps with a power play at 19:47 that would carry over into the final frame of regulation.

Through 40 minutes of play on Sunday, the Bruins led the Capitals, 5-3, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 25-20, in shots on goal, including an, 11-10, advantage for Washington in the second period alone.

The Caps held the advantage in hits (25-21), while the B’s led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (62-39).

Both teams had six blocked shots and two giveaways each, while the Capitals were 2/5 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Tom Wilson caught Sean Kuraly while he was falling with a late hit that left Kuraly stunned and slow to get off the ice. There was no penalty on the play, similar to when Wilson knocked Carlo out of contention with a blindside hit on March 5th.

Carlo has missed 20 games since, despite appearing in one game on April 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a, 4-1, loss.

Tinordi was the only player heading to the penalty box for roughing Wilson in response to his hit on Kuraly on Saturday. Washington went on the power play at 5:52 of the third period, but did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Hathaway boarded Tinordi– cutting the Bruins defender open in the process as his visor smacked the boards first.

Initially, there was no call, nor a whistle for Tinordi while he bled out on the ice.

Divine intervention from the NHL’s office in Toronto, however, delivered a five-minute major penalty for boarding, as well as a match penalty for Hathaway– ending the Capitals forward’s afternoon early.

Boston went on the power play at 9:21 as Daniel Sprong skated to the sin bin to serve Hathaway’s major, but the B’s couldn’t muster anything past Washington’s penalty kill and Vanecek in the extended skater advantage.

With 2:18 remaining in the action, Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.

Boston worked the puck free from their own zone, whereby Pastrnak hit Marchand with a pass through the neutral zone.

Marchand (23) looked to make a move to Bergeron for the hat trick, but settled for an empty net goal for himself at 18:16– assisted by Pastrnak (21) in the process and completing a four-point game for No. 63 in black and gold.

The empty net goal also marked the 700th career point for Marchand– becoming the ninth player in a Bruins uniform to record at least 700 points in franchise history in the process– as the B’s led, 6-3.

At the final horn, Boston had beaten Washington, 6-3, despite finishing the afternoon trailing in shots on goal, 33-28.

The Bruins finished Sunday’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9) and faceoff win% (55-46), while the Capitals ended the action leading in giveaways (6-2) and hits (33-28).

Washington finished the game 2/6 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Despite their lack of power play success on Sunday, the Bruins extended their winning streak to four games.

Boston also improved to 17-4-3 (9-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 14-0-2 (8-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 16-0-2 (11-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Washington fell to 9-8-2 (4-4-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-8-1 (1-5-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 2-9-0 (0-5-0 on the road) when losing after the second period in 2020-21.

After going 4-1-0 in their five-game homestand, the Bruins hit the road for the next five games including three stops in Buffalo and two stops in Pittsburgh before returning home to close out the month of April on the 29th against the Sabres.

Boston’s week ahead features stops in Buffalo on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before heading to Pittsburgh next week.

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NHL Nick's Net

Swayman earns 1st career shutout in, 3-0, B’s win

Jeremy Swayman (4-1-0, 1.78 goals-against average, .939 save percentage in five games played) stopped all 25 shots that he faced en route to his first career National Hockey League shutout in Friday night’s, 3-0, win for the Boston Bruins against the New York Islanders at TD Garden.

All three Bruins acquired ahead of Monday’s trade deadline recorded a point in the effort, while Islanders netminder, Ilya Sorokin (11-4-1, 2.16 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 16 games played), made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the loss.

Boston improved to 24-12-6 (54 points) overall and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York fell to 27-13-4 (58 points) and remained in 2nd place in the division.

The B’s also improved to 2-3-2 against the Isles this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Friday.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup, with the exception of starting Swayman and scratching Tuukka Rask after Boston recalled Dan Vladar from the Providence Bruins (AHL) to serve as Swayman’s backup on the second night of back-to-back games for the B’s.

Rask is expected to go back into the net on Sunday.

The long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players included Frederic, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Grzelcyk, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi and Miller.

Zach Senyshyn and Jack Ahcan were sent to Providence (AHL) on Friday.

Early in the opening frame, Mathew Barzal caught David Krejci with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction as a result at 6:59 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Late in the period, Sean Kuraly slashed Islanders defender, Noah Dobson, and cut a rut to the sin bin, but New York could not muster anything past Swayman on the resulting skater advantage at 15:28.

In the dying seconds of the first period, Mike Reilly kept the puck in the attacking zone, whereby Patrice Bergeron worked it to Reilly as the B’s defender pinched deep along the boards to about the goal line.

Reilly then threw a quick pass to David Pastrnak (17) for the one-timer in the slot past Sorokin to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 19:57.

For the first time in eight games, Pastrnak scored a goal, while Reilly (21) and Bergeron (21) had the assists on the game’s first tally.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Islanders, 10-8, in shots on goal. New York also led in blocked shots (4-3), giveaways (3-2) and hits (15-9), while Boston led in takeaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (57-44).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Taylor Hall (4) redirected a pass from Krejci through Sorokin’s five-hole 47 seconds into the second period to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Krejci (23) and Steven Kampfer (1) had the assists on Hall’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0.

Midway through the middle frame, Jordan Eberle elbowed Charlie McAvoy, yielding a power play to the Bruins at 11:09.

Shortly after making the kill, the Islanders went on the power play as Nick Ritchie cut a rut to the box at 13:24 of the second period for catching Eberle with a high stick.

After New York couldn’t score on the power play, Boston went back on the advantage when Matt Martin tripped McAvoy at 15:45, but the Bruins couldn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Finally, Kuraly sent the puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game penalty at 19:07, but the Islanders weren’t able to score on the power play, despite their advantage carrying over into the third period.

Boston led New York in shots on goal, 20-16, including a, 12-6, advantage in the second period alone.

Brad Marchand kicked things off in the final frame with a slashing minor against Oliver Wahlstrom 3:10 into the first period, but the Islanders weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the third period, Kuraly boarded Dobson at 9:55, but once more New York wasn’t able to capitalize on the skater advantage.

Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, pulled Sorokin for an extra attacker with 1:46 remaining in the game, but it was to no avail as Curtis Lazar (6) pocketed an empty net goal on an individual effort at 18:48.

At the final horn, the Bruins had beaten the Islanders, 3-o, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 28-25, despite trailing New York in shots on goal in the third period alone, 9-8.

The Isles wrapped up Friday’s effort leading in blocked shots (11-9), giveaways (12-3), hits (32-26) and faceoff win% (51-49).

New York went 0/5 on the power play, while Boston went 0/3 on Friday.

The B’s improved to 16-4-3 (8-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-0-2 (7-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 15-0-2 (10-0-2 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

The Islanders fell to 9-12-2 (3-10-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-7-2 (1-7-2 on the road) when trailing after one period and 3-11-1 (3-9-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

The Bruins close out their five-game homestand (2-1-0) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon before hitting the road for the next five games, including three games in Buffalo and two in Pittsburgh.

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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Connolly move opens door for more

The Florida Panthers dealt forward, Brett Connolly, defender Riley Stillman, the signing rights to forward, Henrik Borgström, and a 2021 7th round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in exchange for forward, Lucas Wallmark, and defender, Lucas Carlsson.

Thursday’s move comes as the Panthers are in the midst of their best season in about 25 years and prime for further addition by next Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.

From Taylor Hall speculations to strengthening their blue line due to the loss of Aaron Ekblad to injury, Florida freed up cap space by moving Connolly’s $2.425 million cap hit off the books as a result of moving him to the taxi squad prior to the trade with Chicago.

Nothing is imminent, but Panthers General Manager, Bill Zito, has ushered in an era of proactivity that we’re all just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Meanwhile, the Panthers reunited with a familiar face in Wallmark as he was previously acquired by the team in a transaction with the Carolina Hurricanes as part of a larger package in exchange for Vincent Trocheck on Feb. 24, 2020.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, bolstered their bottom six depth and taxi squad members as a result of the deal in the wake of their surprise contention for a playoff berth this season.

Most experts agreed entering 2020-21, that this season would be one in which Chicago General Manager, Stan Bowman, would have to navigate an impending rebuild, but that might not be the case as the Blackhawks have had pleasant surprises in production and NHL readiness in Pius Suter, Kevin Lankinen and others.

Connolly, 28, had four points (two goals, two assists) in 21 games with the Panthers this season at the time of the trade on Thursday. He has 100-92–192 totals in 517 career NHL games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Panthers since being drafted in the 1st round (6th overall) by Tampa in 2010, and making his league debut with the Lightning in 2011-12.

A native of Campbell River, British Columbia, the 6-foot-3, 198-pound right wing carries a $2.425 million cap hit this season, as well as a $2.375 million cap hit from 2021-22 through 2022-23, when he will then be an unrestricted free agent.

While Connolly is on pace for three goals this season, he experienced a career resurgence with Washington, tallying career-highs in goals (22), assists (24) and points (46) in 81 games with the Capitals in 2018-19.

He recorded 19-14–33 totals in 69 games with Florida last season prior to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shortening the regular season.

In 42 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Connolly has 8-3–11 totals, including nine points (six goals, three assists) in 24 games with the Caps en route to their 2018 Stanley Cup championship.

Stillman, 23, had no points and 14 penalty minutes in eight games this season with Florida to go along with his plus-2 rating.

The 6-foot-1, 196-pound native of Peterborough, Ontario and son of two-time Stanley Cup winner, Cory Stillman, has five assists in 43 career NHL games since making his league debut with the Panthers in the 2018-19 season after being drafted by Florida in the 4th round (114th overall) in 2016.

Stillman has appeared in three career postseason games, has no points and was a minus-3 in Florida’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier series loss to the New York Islanders.

As he went from the taxi squad on the Panthers to the taxi squad on the Blackhawks, he currently does not count against Chicago’s salary cap and is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end.

Borgström, 23, has 11-8–19 totals in 28 games with HIFK in Liiga over in Finland this season. The 6-foot-3, 199-pound Helsinki native was originally drafted by the Panthers in the 1st round (23rd overall) in 2016, and made his league debut in the 2017-18 season.

In 58 career NHL games with Florida, Borgström had 9-10–19 totals and has yet to appear in a Stanley Cup Playoff game.

Wallmark, 25, had three assists in 16 games with Chicago this season at the time of the trade on Thursday and has 23-36–59 totals in 183 career NHL games with the Carolina Hurricanes, Panthers and Blackhawks.

Originally drafted by Carolina in the 4th round (97th overall) in 2014, the 6-foot, 178-pound native of Umea, Sweden is in his second stint with the Panthers organization.

He had a career-high 12 goals with the Hurricanes and Panthers in 67 games last season and set career-highs in assists (18) and points (28) in 81 games with Carolina in 2018-19, recording five points (one goal, four assists) in 15 playoff games with the Hurricanes en route to their 2019 Eastern Conference Final appearance.

He had no points in two postseason games with Florida in 2020 and is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end with a $950,000 cap hit if he weren’t already on the taxi squad.

Carlsson, 23, had one assist in 12 games with Chicago this season at the time of the trade and has two points (two assists) in 18 career games since making his league debut last season with the Blackhawks.

A native of Gävle, Sweden, the 6-foot, 189-pound defender was originally drafted by Chicago in the 4th round (110th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft and has appeared in one career postseason game in 2020.

Carlsson had 5-21–26 totals with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL) in 48 games last season, as well as three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games with Rockford in 2020-21.

Though he technically carries a $792,500 cap hit, the Blackhawks won’t be charged anything against their cap as long as he is on the taxi squad. He is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end.

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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Isles are all-in on deep run with Palmieri, Zajac trade

Wednesday night, the New York Islanders dealt forwards, AJ Greer and Mason Jobst, a 2021 1st round pick and a conditional 2022 4th round pick to the New Jersey Devils for forwards, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac.

Zajac had been on the radar of Islanders General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, since last season when New York nearly brought in Zajac from the Devils and Zach Parise from the Minnesota Wild at the 2020 trade deadline.

This year, Zajac waived his no-trade clause to go to the Islanders.

Palmieri, meanwhile, adds a significant component to New York’s scoring prowess with captain, Anders Lee, out for the rest of the regular season (at least) due to injury.

New Jersey retained 50% of both Palmieri and Zajac’s salary in the transaction.

If the Islanders advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, the 4th round pick becomes a 3rd round pick in either 2022 or 2023, with New York having the choice between the two to send to the Devils.

New Jersey General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald, in the meantime, hopes both now former Devils players (Palmieri and Zajac) will go on to win Stanley Cup rings with the Islanders in 2021, and that he’ll receive the 32nd overall pick in this year’s first round in the process.

New York is in “win-now” mode, while New Jersey is looking to sell expendable parts and build around their youth in Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Ty Smith and Mackenzie Blackwood.

Palmieri, 30, had 8-9–17 totals in 34 games for the Devils this season prior to being traded on Wednesday and has 183-172–355 totals in 595 career NHL games for the Anaheim Ducks and Devils since being drafted in the 1st round (26th overall) by Anaheim in 2009, and making his league debut in 2010-11.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound, Smithtown, New York native carries a $2.325 million cap hit for the Islanders and is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

He set career-highs in goals, assists and points in 2015-16 with the Devils with 30-27–57 totals in 82 games and had a career-high tying 27 assists the following season in 80 games with New Jersey.

Since reaching the 30-goal plateau, Palmieri has had four consecutive seasons with at least 20 goals (five if you include the 30-goal season) entering 2020-21.

In 38 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Palmieri has 8-7–15 totals, including three points (one goal, two assists) in five games with New Jersey in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Zajac, 35, had 7-11–18 totals in 33 games with the Devils this season prior to being traded to the Islanders and has 202-348–550 totals in 1,024 career NHL games since making his debut in the 2006-07 season.

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Zajac was drafted by the Devils in the 1st round (20th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound center has reached the 20-goal plateau twice in his career, establishing career-highs in goals (25), assists (42) and points (67) in 82 games with the Devils in 2009-10, and had 19 goals in 80 games in 2018-19, including 12 points on the power play.

Zajac carries a $2.875 million cap hit through season’s end for New York and has 11-17–28 totals in 57 career postseason games, including 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 24 games en route to New Jersey’s 2012 Stanley Cup Final appearance.

He most recently had a goal and an assist (two points) in five games in the 2018 First Round with the Devils in their 4-1 series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Greer, 24, has not played in the NHL since the 2018-19 season with the Colorado Avalanche, in which he had 1-1–2 totals in 15 games.

Drafted in the 2nd round (39th overall) by the Avs in 2015, Greer made his league debut with Colorado in 2016-17, and has 1-5–6 totals in 37 career NHL games (all with the Avalanche).

He was traded to the Islanders on Oct. 11th last fall for Kyle Burroughs and has spent parts of the last five seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) for San Antonio, Colorado and Bridgeport, where he had 1-1–2 totals in 10 games for the Sound Tigers thus far in 2020-21 at the time of the trade.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Joliette, Québec is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end and has a $700,000 cap hit.

Jobst, 27, has yet to appear in an NHL game in his professional playing days and was undrafted.

After four seasons at Ohio State (NCAA-Big Ten), he signed a two-year deal with the Islanders on April 2, 2019, and has spent the last two seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL).

He had two assists in six games with Bridgeport this season prior to being traded to New Jersey and 5-8–13 totals in 44 games for the Sound Tigers last season.

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound native of Speedway, Indiana is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and carries a $792,500 cap hit.

Both Greer and Jobst are expected to report to the Binghamton Devils (AHL).

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NHL Nick's Net

Bergeron’s hat trick in Swayman’s 40-save NHL debut lead Bruins over Flyers, 4-2

Jeremy Swayman (1-0-0, 2.01 goals-against average, .952 save percentage in one game played) made 40 saves on 42 shots against in his National Hockey League debut, while Patrice Bergeron surpassed 900 career points with a hat trick in a, 4-2, victory for the Boston Bruins against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.

Swayman went 8-1-0 in nine games played for the Providence Bruins (AHL) this season with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in that span prior to being called up on Monday due to Boston’s starting and backup goaltenders being out of the lineup.

He made his NHL debut nine games after Dan Vladar made his NHL debut in net for Boston in a, 2-1, win at Pittsburgh on March 16th.

The last time the Bruins had two rookie goaltenders play at least one game was in 2016-17, when Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre suited up in one and eight games, respectively, that season.

The last two Bruins goalies to make their NHL debut in the same season was back in 2005-06, when Hannu Toivonen and Jordan Sigalet did just that.

Bergeron, in the meantime, became the fourth Bruin in franchise history to record at least 900 points with the club, joining Ray Bourque (1,506 points with Boston), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012) as the only players to do so in the spoked-B.

Philadelphia goaltender, Carter Hart (8-10-4, 3.88 goals-against average, .871 save percentage in 24 games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced for an .880 save percentage in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 20-10-6 (46 points) overall and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual East Division, while separating themselves a bit from the now 18-15-5 Flyers (41 points) who remain 5th in the division.

Boston also improved to 6-0-1 against Philadelphia this season.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (upper body) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Kevan Miller returned after missing his 20th game this season due to a nagging lower body injury that he re-aggravated on Feb. 18th against the New Jersey Devils.

With Miller back and McAvoy out of the lineup as a late scratch due to injury, B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, jumbled his lineup a bit.

Karson Kuhlman moved up to the right side of the third line, while Chris Wagner rejoined the lineup in his usual role as the fourth line right wing as Zach Senyshyn served as a healthy scratch.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk suited up alongside Miller on the first pairing, while Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton rounded out the top-four.

Jakub Zboril was partnered with Steven Kampfer on the third defensive pairing.

With Rask and Halak out, Vladar served as Swayman’s backup goaltender, while Anders Bjork, Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, McAvoy, Anton Blidh and Jarred Tinordi made up Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Bergeron (13) corralled a rebound and wrapped the puck around Hart’s outstretched leg to give the Bruins the game’s first goal.

Craig Smith (11) and Brad Marchand (25) tallied the assists and the B’s led, 1-0, at 7:09 of the first period.

With his first goal of the night, Bergeron reached the 900-point plateau in his career. By the end of the night, he had 367-535–902 totals in 1,125 career games (all with Boston).

Midway through the first period, Grzelcyk was penalized for hooking James van Riemsdyk, but Philly wasn’t able to muster anything on their first power play of the night at 10:15.

Moments later, the Bruins went on the power play after Nicolas Aube-Kubel was called for holding against David Krejci at 16:38.

The Bruins made quick work of their first skater advantage of the game, working the puck around the zone from Marchand to David Pastrnak to Bergeron (14) for one of his standard catch and release power-play goals from the bumper– giving Boston a two-goal lead in the process.

Pastrnak (16) and Marchand (26) had the assists on Bergeron’s second goal of the night at 17:31 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Philadelphia, 13-11, in shots on goal.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (7-5) and hits (11-7), while Philly led in takeaways (2-0), giveaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (52-48) after one period of play.

The Flyers were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Jakub Voracek (6) redirected a shot pass from Travis Konecny past Swayman from the edge of the crease to cut Boston’s lead in half and put Philadelphia on the scoreboard, 2-1.

Konecny (17) had the only assist in the goal at 1:33 of the second period.

Philly tied things up, 2-2, with a pair of goals in a span of 2:30 thanks to Shayne Gostisbehere’s (6) catch and release shot over Swayman at 4:03.

Voracek (25) and Ivan Provorov (15) tallied the assists on Gostisbehere’s goal.

Midway through the middle frame, Trent Frederic cut a rut to the penalty box for roughing at 11:14, but the Flyers weren’t able to take advantage of the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action on Tuesday night, the Bruins and Flyers were tied, 2-2, despite Philadelphia outshooting Boston, 38-18, in shots on goal, including a, 25-7, advantage in the second period alone.

Philly also held the advantage in giveaways (9-5) and faceoff win% (57-44), while the B’s led in hits (17-15) after two periods.

Both teams had 14 blocked shots and four takeaways each, while Philadelphia was 0/2 and Boston was 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Miller tripped Nolan Patrick at 7:25 of the third period and presented the Flyers with another power play.

This time, however, Boston’s penalty kill turned the tables on Philadelphia when Lauzon sprung out of his own zone with the puck, generated a 2-on-1 in the attacking zone and sent a pass to Marchand (18) for the extra drag before sliding the puck through Hart’s five-hole.

It was the sixth shorthanded goal for the Bruins this season and the 29th of Marchand’s career, while Lauzon (4) and Clifton (5) tabbed the assists as Boston pulled ahead, 3-2, at 8:21.

It was also Marchand’s 48th career shorthanded point, which broke a tie with Eddie Westfall and Bobby Orr for the most in Bruins history.

About a minute later, Konecny slashed Miller, who delivered a swift cross check in return and the two players drew minor infractions at 9:59.

The two teams skated 4-on-4 for two minutes before returning to regular even strength action.

Moments later, Samuel Morin roughed Frederic along the wall and was sent to the sin bin at 13:12, but Boston’s power play unit was unable to convert on the skater advanatage.

With 1:57 remaining in the game, Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, pulled Hart for an extra attacker and used his only timeout to draw up a strategy for Philadelphia to tie the game once more.

Instead, Bergeron (15) scored an empty net goal– completing the hat trick with his third goal of the game in the process.

Marchand (27) and Wagner (3) had the assists as the Bruins extended their lead, 4-2, at 19:37 on Bergeron’s sixth career hat trick and first since a, 7-4, victory at the New York Rangers on Oct. 27, 2019.

Bergeron tied Adam Oates, Herb Cain, Dit Clapper, Wayne Cashman and Barry Pederson for the ninth most hat tricks while in a Bruins uniform in franchise history.

At the final horn, Swayman made the most saves (40) by a B’s netminder in his first start since Bernie Parent had 44 saves in his NHL debut with Boston in 1965, as he and the Bruins downed the Flyers, 4-2.

Boston finished the night with the advantage in blocked shots (19-16) and hits (31-19), though they trailed Philadelphia in shots on goal (42-26), giveaways (11-8) and faceoff win% (57-44).

The Flyers finished Tuesday’s action 0/3 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2.

Boston improved to 13-3-3 (7-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, as well as 10-0-2 (5-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 5-4-3 (5-3-2 on the road) when tied after two periods in 2020-21.

Philadelphia, in the meantime, fell to 6-11-2 (2-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, 8-2-1 (5-2-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 6-3-2 (2-2-2 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bruins continue their three-game road trip (1-0-0) with a stop in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals on Thursday prior to returning to Philadelphia for a matchup with the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. Boston returns home next Sunday to host the Capitals to kick off a five-game homestand on April 11th.