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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Marchand lifts Bruins over Capitals, 4-3, in OT, ties series 1-1

Taylor Hall never gave up and tied the game late in the third period, while Brad Marchand ended it 39 seconds into overtime as the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 2 at Capital One Arena on Monday.

It was the fastest goal to start a Stanley Cup Playoffs overtime in franchise history– beating Bobby Orr’s iconic 1970 Stanley Cup winning overtime goal by one second– as the Bruins tied the series 1-1 heading back home for Game 3 on Wednesday.

Tuukka Rask (1-1, 2.86 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in two games played) made 36 saves on 39 shots against in the win.

Meanwhile, Capitals netminder, Craig Anderson (1-1, 2.65 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in two games played) stopped 44 out of 48 shots faced in the loss.

The B’s were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Jeremy Lauzon (upper body) on Monday.

With Lauzon as the newest entry on Boston’s list of injured players, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing with Kevan Miller.

Among his forwards, Cassidy moved Charlie Coyle back to centering the third line– flanked by Nick Ritchie at left wing and Jake DeBrusk at right wing– while Sean Kuraly was slotted into the fourth line left wing spot with Curtis Lazar at center and Chris Wagner on the right side.

At puck drop, Patrice Bergeron moved into sole possession of the second-most playoff games in a Bruins uniform– suiting up in his 151st career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Monday night and passing former Bruin, turned current Capitals defender, Zdeno Chara, in the process.

David Krejci (146) also surpassed Wayne Cashman (145) for sole possession of the fourth-most postseason games with Boston.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, injured players and taxi squad members included Trent Frederic, Moore, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Early in the opening frame, DeBrusk (2) pocketed a catch and release goal while choking up on his stick as Anderson was out of position on a scramble from the doorstep after Coyle wrapped around the net.

Coyle (1) and Ritchie (1) had the assists on DeBrusk’s second goal in as many games this postseason and the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 5:05 of the first period.

About a minute later, David Pastrnak was penalized for holding and presented the Capitals with the first power play of the night at 6:19.

Washington made quick work of the resulting skater advantage as T.J. Oshie (1) tipped in a shot from Alex Ovechkin on the short side to tie the game, 1-1 at 6:31.

Ovechkin (2) and John Carlson (1) tallied the assists on Oshie’s power-play goal.

Almost three minutes later, Bergeron (1) one-timed a shot from the high slot in his usual bumper role after Pastrnak leapt to keep the puck onside, then generate the scoring chance by feeding his captain the puck for the goal.

Pastrnak (2) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal as the Bruins took the lead, 2-1, at 9:21.

Moments later, Nic Dowd tangled with Krejci and presented Boston with another power play as Dowd cut a rut to the penalty box for roughing at 12:46.

The B’s didn’t get that much time on the skater advantage before the 5-on-4 was cut short thanks to a roughing minor that was assessed to Marchand at 13:54, after the Bruins forward retaliated for being pinned by a knee after a stoppage.

After 52 seconds of 4-on-4 action, Washington went on an abbreviated power play and capitalized on the skater advantage as Garnet Hathaway (1) redirected a shot that had eyes through Rask’s five-hole with a heavy net front presence from both teams creating traffic in the slot.

Dmitry Orlov (1) and Lars Eller (1) were credited with the assists on Hathaway’s tying goal at 16:42 as the Caps evened things up, 2-2, on the scoreboard.

Late in the opening frame, Mike Reilly and Conor Sheary exchanged words and shoves and were sent to the box with roughing minors– necessitating 4-on-4 play at 19:50 of the first period and extending into the middle frame.

After one period of action Monday night, the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard and knotted up in shots on goal, as well, 18-18.

Boston dominated in blocked shots (7-3), takeaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (65-35), while Washington led in giveaways (2-1) and hits (18-14) heading into the first intermission.

The Caps were 1/2 and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Carlson tripped Hall to present the Bruins with a power play at 6:22 of the second period, but Boston was powerless on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Eller was spotted heading down the tunnel and did not return to the night’s action.

Midway through the middle frame, Clifton and Tom Wilson got caught up in an open ice hit away from the puck.

Clifton was assessed an interference minor, while Wilson picked up two minutes for embellishment at 13:31. The two clubs skated at 4-on-4 as a result.

It remained 4-on-4 when less than a minute later, Marchand and Anthony Mantha went at it after Anderson froze the puck at 14:11.

Marchand was assessed a slashing infraction, while Mantha picked up a high sticking minor.

Just as both squads resumed full strength at 5-on-5, Craig Smith and Nick Jensen could resist letting go of one another in a net front battle, yielding roughing minors for the two of them at 16:54.

Through 40 minutes of play at Capital One Arena, the score remained tied, 2-2, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 33-27, including a, 15-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win% (62-38), while Washington led in hits (28-17).

Both teams had three giveaways each as the B’s were 0/2 and the Caps were 1/2 on the power play after two periods.

Early in the final frame, Ritchie inadvertently clotheslined Oshie behind the net while battling for a loose puck along the endboards.

Ritchie cut a rut to the sin bin for roughing at 2:05 of the third period as the Capitals went on the power play.

Washington couldn’t muster anything past Boston’s penalty kill, however, and still couldn’t do anything when the B’s gifted the Caps another power play at 4:53 as Hall tripped Sheary.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams action, however, the Capitals went to work on a 2-on-1 while catching Boston’s defense out of position, whereby Orlov was able to setup Hathaway (2) for his second goal of the night on a catch and release effort at 7:04 of the third period.

Orlov (2) and Carl Hagelin (1) notched the assists on Hathaway’s second goal as Washington took their first lead of the night, 3-2, almost midway through the final frame of regulation.

About ten minutes later, Hall (1) kept plugging away at a loose puck in the crease before sliding it over the goal line while chaos surrounded him and everyone hacked and whiffed at the rubber biscuit in the blue paint.

Smith (1) and Matt Grzelcyk (1) had the assists as Hall’s goal tied the game, 3-3, at 17:11.

Boston rode the momentum surge of tying the game late in the final minutes of regulation and entered the dressing room after 60 minutes with the lead in shots on goal, 46-39, including a, 13-12, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins also led in takeaways (9-6) and faceoff win% (63-38), while the Capitals held the advantage in blocked shots (19-15) and hits (35-30).

Both teams had four giveaways, while the Caps were 1/4 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the extra frame.

It didn’t take long before Krejci intercepted a clearing attempt from Brenden Dillon and passed the puck across the point to Grzelcyk, whereby the Bruins defender tossed it back across the high slot to Marchand (1) for the one-timer blast from the faceoff dot over Anderson’s glove side as the Washington goaltender dove across the crease.

Grzelcyk (2) and Krejci (1) tallied the assists on Marchand’s game-winning goal 39 seconds into the overtime period and the Bruins took home a, 4-3, victory in Game 2 as a result.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 48-39, including a, 1-0, advantage in overtime alone.

The B’s wrapped up Game 2 leading in faceoff win% (63-37), while the Capitals led in blocked shots (19-15), giveaways (7-4) and hits (36-30).

As there were no penalties called in overtime, Washington finished 1/4 and Boston went 0/2 on the power play on Monday night.

Monday night also marked the 11th-straight postseason game decided by one-goal between the two clubs dating back to their 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series– the longest such streak in National Hockey League history.

As a result of their overtime win in Game 2, the Bruins have tied the series 1-1 heading home to TD Garden for Game 3 on Wednesday night in Boston. Puck drop is expected a little after 6:30 p.m. ET and fans in the United States can catch national coverage of the action on NBCSN, while those in Canada can tune to SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360 or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Caps snag, 3-2, overtime win in Game 1 over Bruins

Nic Dowd redirected T.J. Oshie’s blast early in overtime to give Craig Anderson a, 3-2, win in relief and the Washington Capitals a 1-0 series lead over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at Capital One Arena in Game 1 of their 2021 First Round series.

Anderson (1-0, 1.15 goals-against average, .955 save percentage in one game played) made 21 saves on 22 shots faced in the overtime win after replacing injured Capitals goaltender, Vitek Vanecek, in the first period.

He’ll turn 40-years-old on May 21st and became the oldest goaltender to earn a Stanley Cup Playoffs win in Capitals history (39 years, 359 days old), surpassing Mike Liut’s previous record (34 years, 110 days).

Vanecek (0-0, 4.62 goals-against average, .750 save percentage in one game played) had three saves on four shots his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut prior to suffering a lower body injury at 13:10 of the first period and leaving the game.

Boston netminder, Tuukka Rask (0-1, 2.78 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in one game played), stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins and Capitals are meeting for the fourth time in a postseason series. Washington holds the all time series advantage, 2-1, having beaten Boston in six games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and most recently in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

The B’s swept the Caps in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

Boston made the playoffs for the 74th time in franchise history, while finishing 3rd in the MassMutual NHL East Division.

Meanwhile, Washington entered the postseason for the 31st time in club history and has home ice advantage in the series by virtue of finishing 2nd in the same division.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) in Game 1.

Kase is not yet ready to return to the lineup, while Moore is out for the rest of the season and playoffs after undergoing a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22nd. Moore’s expected recovery time is five to six months.

Charlie Coyle, meanwhile, was back in the lineup after missing the last four games of the regular season with an upper body injury.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, didn’t do much out of the ordinary with his lines as captain, Patrice Bergeron, centered the first line with his usual partners in crime, Brad Marchand at left wing and David Pastrnak at right wing.

David Krejci centered the second line with Taylor Hall to his left and Craig Smith to his right, while Sean Kuraly centered the third line with Nick Ritchie and Coyle on his wings.

Rounding out the bottom-six forwards, Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner were slotted alongside Curtis Lazar.

Bergeron tied Zdeno Chara for the second-most appearances in a playoff game in a Bruins uniform– having participated in his 150th career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Saturday night.

Krejci, meanwhile, surpassed Wayne Cashman for sole possession of the fourth-most playoff games in the spoked-B, skating in his 146th career postseason game on Saturday.

On defense, Cassidy started the night with Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, Mike Reilly suited up with Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon alongside Kevan Miller.

Reilly made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the process.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players included Trent Frederic, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Jakub Zboril, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Jaroslav Halak, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar.

Washington, meanwhile, was without Evgeny Kuznetsov, who remained in COVID protocol ahead of Game 1.

Tom Wilson (1) scored the game’s first goal and opened the scoring in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs on a give-and-go play that led to a far side shot over Rask and into the twine to make it, 1-0.

Oshie (1) and Daniel Sprong (1) had the assists on Wilson’s goal at 6:22 of the first period as the Capitals capitalized on a shattered stick by McAvoy in Boston’s attacking zone that led to the breakout and ensuing goal.

Almost 90 seconds later, John Carlson sent the puck over the glass and yielded an automatic delay of game minor infraction at 7:58, presenting the Bruins with the night’s first power play as a result.

Boston was powerless on the skater advantage, however.

Moments later, DeBrusk (1) scored from the edge of the faceoff dot to the left of Vanecek after an attacking zone draw was won by Lazar back to the B’s winger for a quick shot to tie the game, 1-1, at 13:10.

Lazar (1) had the only assist while Vanecek sustained a lower body injury on the play and promptly left the game with the assistance of a Capitals trainer.

Anderson replaced Vanecek in his first playoff appearance since 2017, when the Ottawa Senators lost, 4-2, in double overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.

The Bruins did not put Anderson to the test nearly enough for the remainder of the action.

Justin Schultz tripped Hall at 16:42 and presented Boston with another power play before the first period came to a close, but the B’s weren’t able to muster anything on the advantage and entered the first intermission tied on the scoreboard, 1-1.

Washington led in shots on goal, 11-7, after 20 minutes and held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and hits (19-13), while Boston led in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (81-19).

The Bruins were 0/2 on the power play while the Capitals had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Entering the second period Washington tweeted that Vanecek would not return to the night’s action with a lower body injury. If necessary, Pheonix Copley would be available as the emergency goaltender for the Caps.

Midway through the middle frame, Brenden Dillon (1) blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Lauzon’s stick and into the back of the twine– giving the Capitals a, 2-1, lead at 8:44 of the second period in the process.

Anthony Mantha (1) and Alex Ovechkin (1) tallied the assists on Dillon’s goal.

Ovechkin later cross checked Miller, but Lauzon retaliated with a cross check on Ovechkin and was the only player that was penalized at 9:01 of the second period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Late in the period, Dmitry Orlov caught Marchand with a high stick at 15:21.

Boston capitalized on the resulting skater advantage when Pastrnak wired a shot off of Ritchie’s (1) shaft in front of the net– deflecting the puck through Anderson and just over the goal line.

Pastrnak (1) and McAvoy (1) had the assists on Ritchie’s power-play goal, tying the game, 2-2, in the process at 16:40.

Through 40 minutes of play, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 22-16, including an, 11-9, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (62-38), while the Caps led in giveaways (4-3) and hits (31-30).

Both teams had four takeaways aside, while Washington was 0/1 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals in the final frame of regulation and only one penalty as Michael Raffl tripped Hall with a knee-on-knee swipe (inadvertent or not, it was a penalty) at 5:06 of the third period.

After 60 minutes, the Capitals led in shots on goal, 31-24, including a, 9-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington held the advantage in hits (51-40), while Boston led in blocked shots (18-12), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (59-41). Both teams had six takeaways aside.

As there were no penalties called in overtime, the Capitals finished 0/1 and the Bruins finished 1/4 on the power play.

Early in the extra frame, Washington got a break whereby Oshie let go of a one-timer that Dowd (1) deflected off of Rask and in for the game-winning goal at 4:41 of the overtime period.

Oshie (2) and Wilson (1) had the assists on Dowd’s goal as the Capitals secured a, 3-2, victory in overtime in Game 1.

Washington finished Saturday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 32-26, despite Boston outshooting the Capitals, 2-1, in overtime alone.

The Caps also wrapped up Game 1 with the advantage in hits (51-41), while the Bruins finished the game leading in blocked shots (19-16), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (60-40).

The Bruins fell to 0-1 when tied after the first period, 0-1 when allowing the game’s first goal and 0-1 when tied after the second period this postseason, while the Capitals improved to 1-0 when tied after the first, scoring the game’s first goal and tied after two periods in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Washington leads the series 1-0 and looks to go up by two games on Monday night in Game 2. Puck drop in Washington is set for a little after 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans in the United States can tune to NBCSN for national coverage, while viewers in Canada have the option to choose from SN, CBC or TVAS.

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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

Raffl sinks Bruins in dying seconds, Caps win, 2-1

Michael Raffl scored the game-winning goal off the back of Jeremy Swayman with about three seconds left on the game clock to give the Washington Capitals a, 2-1, victory over the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena in both teams’ last game of the regular season.

Vitek Vanecek (21-10-4, 2.70 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 37 games played) made 24 saves on 25 shots against in the win for Washington.

Swayman (7-3-0, 1.50 goals-against average, .945 save percentage in 10 games played), stopped 30 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins finished the 2020-21 regular season 33-16-7 (73 points) overall and in 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals went 36-15-5 (77 points) this season and finished in 2nd place in the same division.

The two clubs will face each other in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston also dropped to 15-9-4 on the road and 4-2-2 against Washington in 2020-21.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Charlie Coyle (upper body) due to injury on Tuesday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy elected to rest Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, David Krejci, Craig Smith, Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller, Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask for the final game of the regular season.

Boston returns home after their evening in Washington, D.C. for a day off on Wednesday.

The B’s return to practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday and Friday ahead of Game 1 back in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night.

By sitting most of his regular lineup, Cassidy jumbled his forwards and defenders on Tuesday night with Curtis Lazar centering the first line– flanked by Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner on his wings.

Greg McKegg centered the second line with Nick Ritchie and Zach Senyshyn on the wings. Ritchie and Wagner each wore an “A” with Steven Kampfer wearing the third “A”, designated as alternate captains while Bruins captain, Bergeron, and regular alternates, Krejci and Marchand were withheld from Tuesday night’s action.

Jack Studnicka centered the third line with Trent Frederic at left wing and Oskar Steen at right wing, while Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman rounded out the bottom-six forwards.

On defense, Jakub Zboril was paired with Connor Clifton on the first pairint, while Jarred Tinordi and Kampfer, as well as Jack Ahcan and Urho Vaakanainen rounded out the rest of the blue line.

Dan Vladar served as Swayman’s backup with Rask and Halak given the night off.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Reilly, Smith, Coyle, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Bergeron, Rask, Halak, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Kuraly, Lauzon, Marchand, Callum Booth, Hall, McAvoy, Miller and Pastrnak.

Washington was without some big names in T.J. Oshie (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID protocol) and Ilya Samsonov (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

At puck drop, Ritchie became the only Bruin to play in all 56 games this season.

Meanwhile, midway through the opening frame, Clifton caught Carl Hagelin with a slash and promptly presented the Capitals with the first power play of the night at 7:15 of the first period.

Washington’s power play was cut short, however, when Anthony Mantha tripped Kampfer at 8:44, yielding 31 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins had an abbreviated power play.

Boston’s special teams couldn’t muster anything on their brief skater advantage.

Heading into the first intermission, the game was still tied, 0-0, despite Washington leading in shots on goal, 9-6.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (9-2), takeaways (4-2), giveaways (2-1) and hits (16-13), while the Capitals held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (55-46).

Both the Caps and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

DeBrusk worked the puck up to Tinordi as the Bruins defender pinched into the attacking zone on a rush before sending a pass to Lazar (7) in the slot for a tap-in while Vanecek was out of position– giving Boston a, 1-0, lead in the process.

Tinordi (1) and DeBrusk (9) tallied the assists on Lazar’s goal at 10:11 of the second period.

The B’s did not hold the lead for long, however, as Hagelin (6) pocketed a rebound while Swayman was sprawling in effort to clear the crease.

Garnet Hathaway (12) and Zdeno Chara (8) had the assists on Hagelin’s goal as the Caps tied the game, 1-1, at 16:15 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Washington holding a, 26-14, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 17-8, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston dominated in blocked shots (16-4) and hits (22-20), while the Caps led in takeaways (7-4) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams had three giveaways each and remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Prior to the start of the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Zboril would not return to the night’s action with an upper body injury.

Less than two minutes into the final frame, Frederic and Tom Wilson exchanged pleasantries leading to ten-minute misconducts for each player– a fair tradeoff for Boston to give up a bottom-six winger for Washington’s infamous forward at 1:49 of the third period.

As each penalty was a misconduct, there was no change in strength as both teams remained at 5-on-5 for the rest of the night.

No more penalties were called and no goals were scored until the dying seconds when Raffl (4) riffled a shot from behind the goal line off of Swayman’s back– bouncing just under the crossbar and back out from the twine.

Justin Schultz (24) had the only assist on Raffl’s game-winning goal at 19:57 of the third period as the Capitals secured the, 2-1, victory at the final horn.

Washington wrapped up the night’s action with the advantage in the final shot total, 32-25, despite being outshot by Boston, 11-5, in the third period alone.

The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (21-10), while the Capitals led in giveaways (9-4), hits (39-33) and faceoff win% (62-38).

Both teams finished 0/1 on the night on the skater advantage.

After the game, Cassidy informed reporters that Swayman would serve as Rask’s backup in the postseason and indicated that Coyle would likely be cleared for a return to the lineup for Game 1.

Meanwhile, Kase’s status remains uncertain for Saturday night, at least.

Boston finished the 2020-21 regular season 8-8-2 (5-4-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 25-6-3 (12-6-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal and 6-8-3 (5-6-2 on the road) when tied after two periods.

Washington, on the other hand, wrapped up their 2020-21 regular season efforts 16-3-1 (7-2-1 at home) when tied after one period, 11-10-2 (7-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 8-2-5 (4-1-3 at home) when tied after the second period.

The Bruins finished their 2020-21 regular season on Tuesday and will return to Boston for a day off on Wednesday before practicing on Thursday and Friday ahead of Saturday’s Game 1 matchup with the Capitals in Washington, D.C.

Washington has home-ice advantage in their First Round series with Boston in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since their 1998 matchup with the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal that year. 

This will be the fourth time that the two clubs go head-to-head in the playoffs with the Capitals holding an all-time 2-1 series advantage. 

The Caps defeated the B’s most recently in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal as well as in six games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, while the Bruins swept Washington in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

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NHL Nick's Net

Hall scores twice in, 3-2, OT win, Bruins clinch 3rd

There were 4,565 fans in attendance at TD Garden on Monday night to watch Taylor Hall score a pair of goals– including the game-winner– as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Islanders, 3-2, in overtime.

In compliance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans, TD Garden’s seating capacity limit was raised from 12% to 25% in time for Monday’s regular season home finale against the Islanders.

Further adjustments to seating capacity will follow as deemed in accordance with state plans to fully reopen by August 1st.

Tuukka Rask (15-5-2, 2.28 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in 24 games played) made 16 saves on 18 shots faced in the win for Boston.

New York goaltender, Semyon Varlamov (19-11-4, 2.04 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in 36 games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against before being replaced by Ilya Sorokin (13-6-3, 2.17 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 22 games played) to start the third period as Varlamov left the game with an upper body injury.

Sorokin stopped 10 out of 11 shots faced in the overtime loss.

The Bruins improved to 33-15-7 (73 points) and secured 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Islanders dropped to 32-17-7 (71 points) overall and finished in 4th place in the same division as the Isles wrapped up their regular season on Monday.

Boston went 3-3-2 in their regular season series with New York, as well as 18-7-3 on home ice in 2020-21.

The Bruins were without John Moore (hip) and Charlie Coyle (upper body) on Monday, while Ondrej Kase returned to action for the first time since sustaining an upper body injury on Jan. 16th in New Jersey.

Though the team never explicitly stated that Kase sustained a concussion, the right wing missed the last 52 games while recovering and was slotted on the fourth line with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and Curtis Lazar at center.

Coyle, meanwhile, missed his third game due to injury and will be out of the lineup on Tuesday as well.

As a result, Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Chris Wagner on the right side of the third line with Nick Ritchie at left wing and Sean Kuraly at center.

Despite a poor effort in the third period of Saturday’s, 5-4, loss to the New York Rangers, Cassidy left his defensive pairings intact, while Jeremy Swayman served as Rask’s backup– giving Jaroslav Halak the night off on Monday.

Trent Frederic, Coyle, Greg McKegg, Moore, Halak, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi made up the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players for the B’s.

Almost midway into the opening frame, Ryan Pulock was assessed a holding infraction, yielding the first power play of the night to Boston at 7:38 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on their first skater advantage of the evening, however.

Late in the period, Nick Leddy cut a rut to the box for holding as well– with Hall on the receiving end for the second time of the night– at 17:55.

The Bruins had a short two-skater advantage when Leo Komarov slashed Brad Marchand, then delivered a quick cheap shot to David Pastrnak while passing by after the whistle– yielding an unsportsmanlike conduct minor as well at 19:14.

It didn’t take long for the B’s to get their revenge on the scoreboard as David Krejci setup Hall (9) with a pass through the low slot for the one-timer goal from the goal line.

Krejci (34) and Marchand (40) had the assists on Hall’s first goal of the night as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 19:21 of the first period.

In the waning seconds of the opening frame, Charlie McAvoy hooked Casey Cizikas and was sent to the sin bin at 19:51.

The ensuing 4-on-4 action spilled over into the middle frame.

After one period, Boston led the Islanders, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 18-4, in shots on goal.

The Isles held the advantage in blocked shots (7-1), giveaways (5-1) and hits (17-7), while the B’s led in faceoff win percentage (65-35). Both teams had four takeaways aside, while only the Bruins had seen any action on the power play heading into the first intermission and were 1/3.

After taking a hit from Leddy, Hall retaliated with a cross check to the Islanders defender and presented New York with a 4-on-3 advantage 56 seconds into the second period.

Less than a minute later, Oliver Wahlstrom (12) sent a one-timer from the faceoff dot over Rask’s blocker on the short side with traffic in the slot to tie the game, 1-1, at 1:38 of the second period.

Mathew Barzal (28) and Leddy (29) tallied the assists on Wahlstrom’s power-play goal.

Moments later, Marchand (29) put the Bruins ahead, 2-1, after he redirected a shot pass from Krejci into the twine from the doorstep.

Krejci (35) and Pastrnak (28) had the assists on Marchand’s goal at 6:15 of the middle frame.

About two minutes later, Barzal (17) wired a shot from the outer edge of the circle in the high slot over Rask’s blocker on the short side to tie the game, 2-2, at 8:31.

Pulock (15) and Anthony Beauvillier (13) nabbed the assists on Barzal’s goal for the Islanders.

The score was tied, 2-2, after 40 minutes of action. Despite Boston holding the advantage in shots on goal, 27-13, both teams had nine shots apiece in the second period alone.

New York held the advantage in blocked shots (11-6), takeaways (7-5), giveaways (9-4) and hits (32-15), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (66-35).

The Isles were 1/1 and the B’s were 1/4 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Prior to the start of the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Kase (upper body) would not return to Monday night’s game, while the Islanders made a change in the crease, swapping Varlamov (upper body) for Sorokin to finish out the night.

Midway through the period, McAvoy and Brock Nelson got tangled up behind the Boston net and received roughing minors at 13:29, yielding 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes.

Neither team scored as New York pulled Sorokin for an extra attacker with 1:41 remaining in the third period. The Isles had nothing to lose if Boston had scored and a chance to pull ahead of the Bruins in determining playoff seeding if the B’s didn’t hit the empty net.

Luckily for the Islanders, the Bruins presented New York with a very fair chance to steal two points in regulation after icing the puck with 6.8 seconds left on the gameclock.

Luckily for Boston, the Isles didn’t score on the ensuing faceoff in the attacking zone.

Through 60 minutes, the score was still tied, 2-2, as the Bruins were outshooting the Islanders, 36-18, including a, 9-5, advantage in the third period alone.

New York held the advantage in blocked shots (14-9), giveaways (13-9) and hits (41-25), while Boston led in faceoff win% (67-33).

Both teams had nine takeaways each.

As there were no penalties called in the overtime period, the Islanders finished 1/1 on the power play and the Bruins finished 1/4 on the skater advantage on Monday.

Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, started Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Beauvillier and Leddy in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Krejci, Hall and McAvoy.

Just past the midpoint of the extra frame, Hall regrouped with a pass to Krejci before skating back up through the neutral zone– fed on a break-in pass from Krejci before beating Cizikas clean while entering the zone.

Hall (10) danced around the Islanders forward before deking around Leddy and scoring on a backhand shot through Sorokin for the game-winning goal.

Krejci (36) and Mike Reilly (27) had the assists on Hall’s second goal of the game at 2:53 of the overtime period and the Bruins won, 3-2, as a result.

Boston sealed the deal on the victory and their 3rd place seeding in the MassMutual NHL East Division– setting up a quarter of the league’s playoff bracket for 2021 with the Pittsburgh Penguins set to take on the Islanders and the Washington Capitals hosting the Bruins in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The winners of each series will face each other in the Second Round before the four division winners are reseeded in the Stanley Cup Semifinal in light of the pandemic forcing temporarily realigned divisions and division only play.

The Stanley Cup Semifinal is a placeholder for the Conference Finals for this season, with the winner of each Semifinal advancing to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, back on Monday night for a second, the Bruins finished leading in shots on goal, 38-18, including a, 2-0, advantage in shots in overtime alone, as well as in faceoff win% (67-33).

New York wrapped up Monday night’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (14-9), giveaways (13-9) and hits (41-25).

Boston improved to 4-5 in overtime, as well as 8-7 past regulation this season, while the Islanders fell to 4-4 in overtime and 9-6 past regulation overall in 2020-21.

The B’s improved to 25-5-3 (13-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 20-0-2 (12-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 6-7-3 (1-2-1 at home) when tied after the second period this season as a result of the win.

The Isles dropped to 9-15-5 (3-11-4 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-10-3 (1-8-3 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 13-2-4 (4-2-2 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

The Bruins complete their 2020-21 regular season schedule on the road against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday at Capital One Arena.

Boston will face the Capitals in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with Game 1 set for Saturday night in Washington, D.C. Puck drop is expected around 7:15 p.m. ET.

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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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Swayman leads Bruins to, 4-0, shutout over Rangers

Jeremy Swayman earned his second shutout of the season, as well as of his career in Thursday night’s, 4-0, victory for the Boston Bruins over the New York Rangers at TD Garden.

Swayman (7-2-0, 1.41 goals-against average, .946 save percentage in nine games played) made 15 saves in the shutout win for Boston.

New York goaltender, Igor Shesterkin (15-14-3, 2.57 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 34 games played) stopped 30 out of 34 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 32-14-7 (71 points) on the season and remain in command of 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Rangers fell to 26-23-6 (58 points) overall and stuck in 5th place in the same division.

The B’s are now 5-2-0 against New York this season with one game remaining in their regular season series on Saturday.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Charlie Coyle (upper body) on Thursday. B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, informed reporters ahead of the game on Thursday that Coyle is “day-to-day” and would be out of the lineup against New York.

With Coyle out of the lineup, Karson Kuhlman was back in on the fourth line with Trent Frederic at left wing and Curtis Lazar at center.

Jake DeBrusk, meanwhile, was promoted to the third line in place of Coyle with Nick Ritchie at left wing and Sean Kuraly at center.

On defense, Kevan Miller returned after missing Tuesday night’s game as a precaution so as not to re-aggravate any recent injuries and was paired with Mike Reilly on the third pairing, though Cassidy ended up juggling the defensive pairings early on in the action.

Jaroslav Halak served as Swayman’s backup, giving Tuukka Rask another night off though Boston’s No. 1 goaltender will be getting the start on Saturday.

Coyle was joined by Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Moore, Kase, Rask, 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 Thursday.

To coincide with their final home game of the regular season and in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening protocols, TD Garden will increase their limited seating capacity from 12% to 25% beginning with Monday, May 10th’s matchup with the New York Islanders.

Patrice Bergeron (22) kicked off the game’s scoring with a one-timer goal from the bumper over Shesterkin’s blocker to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 7:11 of the first period.

Brad Marchand (37) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal as Boston jumped out of the gate with fresh legs compared to New York’s exhausted skaters on the second night of back-to-back games.

The Rangers entered TD Garden coming off of a, 4-2, loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in a physical battle that featured six fights after the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety failed to suspend Tom Wilson for his actions in Monday night’s, 6-3, loss to Washington.

Wilson was fined $5,000 for his actions against Pavel Buchnevich, but New York’s owner, James Dolan, thought that wasn’t enough as the Capitals forward received no punishment for his takedown of Rangers star forward, Artemiy Panarin, immediately thereafter.

A statement released by the team in a tweet that alleged “…a dereliction of duty by NHL head of player safety, George Parros…” and went on to exclaim that “[the Rangers] believe he is unfit to continue in his current role,” ended up costing Dolan a $250,000 fine from the league.

Anyway, Libor Hajek caught DeBrusk with a high stick at 7:43 of the first period on Thursday night and presented the Bruins with the game’s first power play.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, but got a second chance at 5-on-4 action when Ryan Strome tripped DeBrusk at 16:44.

This time, however, the B’s capitalized on the power play late in the skater advantage when Charlie McAvoy (5) blasted a shot from the point past Shesterkin on the blocker side.

McAvoy’s power-play goal was assisted by Marchand (38) and David Pastrnak (27) and gave Boston a, 2-0, lead at 18:35 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-4, in shots on goal.

New York held the advantage in blocked shots (7-2), giveaways (2-0), hits (9-6) and faceoff win percentage (73-37), while both teams amassed four takeaways aside after one period.

The Rangers had yet to see any time on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

There were no penalties called in the second period, but David Krejci setup DeBrusk (5) for a nifty breakaway goal on an indirect pass off the boards, leading DeBrusk into the attacking zone for the shot off of Shesterkin’s blocker and into the twine.

Krejci (31) and Taylor Hall (23) had the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to three-goals at 14:01 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 28-7, in shots on goal– including a, 19-3, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s also led in takeaways (11-4), while the Rangers led in blocked shots (10-3), giveaways (9-5) and hits (16-9).

Both teams were 50-50 in faceoff win% as New York remained 0/0 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Brandon Carlo (3) sent an errant puck from the goal line off of Shesterkin’s skate and over the goal line through the Rangers netminder’s five-hole– giving Boston a four-goal lead at 1:07 of the third period.

Krejci (32) had the only assist on Carlo’s goal and the Bruins led, 4-0.

Late in the period, Carlo delivered a swift cross check to Phil Di Giuseppe behind the net in Boston’s own zone and cut a rut to the penalty box at 18:06 of the third period, yielding a power play to New York for the first time of the night in the waning minutes of the action.

The Rangers did not convert on the skater advantage as the clock ticked down to the final horn.

The Bruins secured a, 4-0, shutout victory and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 34-15, despite New York outshooting the B’s, 8-6, in the third period alone.

New York wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in blocked shots (11-6), giveaways (14-9) and hits (22-17), while Boston led the night in faceoff win% (57-43).

The Blueshirts finished 0/1 and the B’s went 1/2 on the power play.

Boston improved to 24-5-3 (12-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 19-0-2 (11-0-1 at home) when leading after one period and 23-0-3 (14-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

New York fell to 6-16-4 (3-6-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-12-4 (3-6-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 1-16-0 (0-9-0 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins finish their regular season series against the Rangers on Saturday afternoon before hosting the New York Islanders for their final home game of the regular season on Monday, May 10th.

Boston concludes the 2020-21 regular season on the road against the Washington Capitals on May 11th.

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Devils down Bruins, 4-3, in overtime

For the first time this season on home ice, the New Jersey Devils forced a comeback after trailing in the second period and won as they defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night at Prudential Center’s final home game of the 2020-21 season.

Mackenzie Blackwood (13-16-4, 3.05 goals-against average, .902 save percentage in 33 games played) made 33 saves on 36 shots against in the win for New Jersey.

Boston goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (9-6-4, 2.53 goals-against average, .905 save percentage in 19 games played) turned aside 17 out of 21 shots faced in the overtime loss.

The Bruins fell to 31-14-7 (69 points) on the season, but remained in control of 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Devils improved to 18-28-7 (43 points) overall and stuck in 7th place in the division.

Boston finished their regular season series with New Jersey 3-3-2 overall in 2020-21.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) on Tuesday, while Kevan Miller (maintenance) and Jakub Zboril were removed from the lineup as Brandon Carlo returned to action from his most recent oblique injury that he sustained on April 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mike Reilly returned in Zboril’s place on the third pairing with Connor Clifton after missing Monday night’s game due to being “pretty banged up,” to paraphrase B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

Cassidy made one change among his forwards, inserting Trent Frederic on the fourth line in place of Karson Kuhlman.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Swayman served as Halak’s backup on Tuesday– giving Tuukka Rask the night off as the playoffs draw near.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Moore, Kase, Rask, Steven Kampfer, Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi and Miller.

Matt Grzelcyk tied up Miles Wood away from the puck and yielded the game’s first power play to the Devils as Grzelcyk cut a rut to the penalty box for interference at 4:16 of the first period.

New Jersey was not successful on their first skater advantage of the night, but Boston began a run of three consecutive infractions as Grzelcyk was the first to commit a minor infraction, then Clifton slashed Yegor Sharangovich at 6:42 and finally, Charlie McAvoy tripped Sharangovich at 8:39– resulting in three seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage for the Devils.

New Jersey’s two-skater advantage quickly dwindled down to a regular 5-on-4 power play, but not for long as Pavel Zacha (14) wired a one-timer past Halak off of the ensuing faceoff while Clifton was set to exit the sin bin and McAvoy was in the box.

Jack Hughes (19) and Nico Hischier (3) tallied the assists on Zacha’s first goal of the game as the Devils took a, 1-0, lead thanks to the power-play goal at 8:42 of the first period.

As Clifton’s minor expired, McAvoy was freed from the box thanks to Boston’s penalty kill allowing a power-play goal against and the game resumed at full strength.

Moments later, Nathan Bastian hooked Brad Marchand and cut a rut to the box at 11:27, presenting the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night.

The B’s did not convert on the skater advantage, however.

Entering the first intermission, the Devils led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins, 15-9, in shots on goal.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (5-1) and giveaways (2-0), while Boston held the advantage in hits (13-5) and faceoff win percentage (68-32).

Both teams had four takeaways each, while the Devils were 1/3 and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Nicholas Merkley kicked off the second period with a hooking infraction at 3:36 and presented Boston with their second power play of the game.

This time, Patrice Bergeron (21) fired a one-timer over Blackwood’s glove from his usual spot as the bumper on the power play to tie the game, 1-1.

David Pastrnak (25) and Grzelcyk (13) had the assists on Bergeron’s power-play goal at 4:36.

Moments later, Pastrnak hooked Wood and cut a rut to the box at 7:49, but Boston’s penalty kill managed to kill off Pastrnak’s minor infraction without issue.

Late in the period, Taylor Hall dropped a pass back to Grzelcyk for a shot before the puck deflected off of Hall’s (8) leg and found its way into the back of net– giving Boston their first lead of the night in the process, 2-1.

Grzelcyk (14) and David Krejci (30) had the assists on Hall’s goal at 14:02 of the second period.

As Hall was passing through Blackwood’s “no fly zone”, New Jersey’s head coach, Lindy Ruff, used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that he believed Hall had made contact with the Devils’ netminder and therefore interfered with Blackwood’s ability to make a save.

Video review confirmed that Hall, in fact, had never touched Blackwood, yielding an automatic delay of game penalty against New Jersey, which was served by Jesper Boqvist at 14:02.

Though Boston did not score on the ensuing power play, they entered the second intermission with the lead on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 27-13, including a, 12-4, advantage in the second period alone.

After 40 minutes of action, the Devils held the advantage in blocked shots (7-4) and takeaways (6-5), while the Bruins led in hits (18-10) and faceoff win% (64-36).

Both teams had four giveaways each as New Jersey was 1/4 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Bovqist (4) tied the game on a loose puck that was initially shot by Damon Severson, then blocked by McAvoy.

Severson (16) and Marián Studenič (1) had the assists on Boqvist’s garbage goal from the doorstep as the Devils tied the game, 2-2, at 9:10 of the third period.

Boston answered back in a hurry as Sean Kuraly (4) redirected a shot pass from Pastrnak with his skate as he was skating backwards through the low slot towards the goal line to put the B’s ahead, 3-2, at 10:42.

Pastrnak (26) and Reilly (26) had the assists on Kuraly’s goal, but the Bruins didn’t have the lead for that long.

Once again, New Jersey tied things up as Sharangovich (16) sent a wrist shot clean past Halak on a breakaway under the Bruins goaltender’s blocker less than two minutes after the B’s took the lead.

Severson (17) and Kevin Bahl (2) notched the assists on Sharangovich’s goal as the Devils tied the game, 3-3, at 12:41 of the third period.

There were no more goals, nor any penalties as the two clubs necessitated overtime to determine a winner on Tuesday night.

After regulation, the Bruins and Devils were tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, while Boston held the advantage in shots on goal, 36-19, including a, 9-6, advantage in the third period alone.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (11-9), takeaways (9-8) and giveaways (10-6), while the B’s led in hits (26-18) and faceoff win% (64-36).

As there were no penalties called in overtime (despite a delayed penalty waiting to be called against Boston that was ultimately negated by New Jersey’s game-winning goal), the Devils finished 1/4 and the Bruins went 1/3 on the power play on Tuesday.

About midway through the extra frame, Zacha (15) waltzed through the lot slot and pulled the puck to his backhand before elevating a shot over Halak’s glove side– leaving the Bruins goaltender in a fit of rage afterward as he skated off the ice and took out his frustrations on his stick.

Hughes (20) and Will Butcher (9) celebrated their assists on Zacha’s second goal of the game, as well as the, 4-3, win.

Meanwhile, reality had set in for Boston’s backup goaltender as Halak made his first start since April 3rd– amidst an appearance on the league’s COVID protocol list, as well as the emergence of Swayman as Boston’s likely backup netminder entering the postseason– Tuesday night’s effort did not help his case for a regular role with the Bruins.

New Jersey finished the night with a, 2-0, advantage in shots on goal in the overtime period alone, but trailed Boston in total shots on goal, 36-21.

The Devils also wrapped up Tuesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (11-10) and giveaways (10-7), while the Bruins finished the game leading in hits (26-18) and faceoff win% (64-36).

The B’s fell to 3-5 in overtime (7-7 past regulation) this season, while the Devils improved to 4-2 in overtime and 4-7 overall past regulation in 2020-21.

Boston also fell to 8-9-4 (3-3-3 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-8-3 (2-5-3 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 22-0-3 (9-0-1 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, New Jersey is now 15-10-2 (7-8-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-3-1 (7-2-0 at home) when leading after one period and 2-22-2 (1-13-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins return home to host the New York Rangers on Thursday and Saturday before taking on the New York Islanders in the final home game of the regular season on May 10th.

Boston concludes the 2020-21 regular season on the road against the Washington Capitals on May 11th.

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Rask, Bruins, shutout Devils, 3-0, clinch playoff berth

For the fifth consecutive season, the Boston Bruins are heading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs– this time, thanks to their, 3-0, shutout over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Monday night.

Tuukka Rask (14-4-2, 2.16 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 22 games played) stopped all 20 shots that he faced en route to his second shutout of the season for Boston. Monday’s win was the 52nd shutout of Rask’s career, as well.

New Jersey goaltender, Scott Wedgewood (3-7-3, 3.04 goals-against average, .902 save percentage in 15 games played), made 39 saves on 42 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 31-14-6 (68 points) on the season and jumped ahead of the New York Islanders for 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division standings as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Islanders, 4-2, on Monday night.

The B’s clinched a playoff berth thanks to having won in New Jersey, regardless of the outcome of the New York Rangers’ matchup with the Washington Capitals (the Caps won, 6-3, for the record).

The Devils, meanwhile, fell to 17-28-7 (41 points) and remained in 7th place in the division.

Boston also improved to 3-3-1 against New Jersey this season, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, led the Bruins to a playoff berth for his fifth time in as many years since taking over the reigns behind the bench after Claude Julien was fired in Feb. 2017.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (oblique) and Mike Reilly (maintenance) on Monday.

Cassidy told reporters ahead of Monday night’s game against the Devils that Kevan Miller would be in the lineup on Monday, but out of the lineup on Tuesday– with the expectation that Carlo returns to the B’s blue line Tuesday night while Miller is out.

With Reilly out of the lineup, Jakub Zboril returned to Boston’s defense on the third pairing with Connor Clifton.

There were no other lineup changes, while Brad Marchand suited up in his 800th career National Hockey League game (all with Boston)– becoming the 13th player in franchise history to appear in 800 games with the club in the process.

Jeremy Swayman, Reilly, Trent Frederic, Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Jarred Tinordi made up Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players on Monday.

Not much happened in the first period except for a barrage of shots on net from the Bruins that Wedgewood turned aside with ease as the ice appeared to be tilted after 20 minutes.

Though the scoreboard read, 0-0, Boston held an advantage in shots on goal, 17-4, entering the first intermission.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (6-5) and giveaways (5-3), while the B’s led in hits (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (69-31) after one period.

Neither team had seen any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Nick Ritchie (14) sent a one-timer from the faceoff dot to the left of Wedgewood just under the glove of the Devils netminder to give Boston the game’s first goal at 9:08 of the second period.

Zboril (9) and Sean Kuraly (5) tallied the assists as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead.

Late in the period, Patrice Bergeron (20) sent a one-timer into the back of the twine from the low slot and reached the 20-goal plateau for the eighth year in-a-row and 12th time in his career (the 2nd most 20-goal seasons in Bruins franchise history, trailing Johnny Bucyk’s 16 seasons with 20 or more goals).

Marchand (35) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal as the B’s extended their lead to, 2-0, at 17:54 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action in New Jersey, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 37-9, in shots on goal, including a, 20-5, advantage in the second period alone.

The Devils held the advantage in blocked shots (7-6), takeaways (12-6) and giveaways (8-4), while the Bruins led in hits (15-6) entering the second intermission.

Both teams were 50-50 in faceoff win% and had yet to see any action on the power play heading into the final frame.

Early in the final frame, A.J. Greer boarded Zboril along the wall and received a minor infraction as a result, but first exchanged fisticuffs with Clifton as the Bruins defender expressed displeasure in Greer’s actions that led to Zboril briefly exiting the ice down the tunnel before returning to the bench.

Clifton and Greer each received five-minute major penalties for fighting, while Miles Wood served Greer’s initial minor for boarding– yielding the first power play of the night to Boston at 6:43 of the third period.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

In fact, after dominating the first 40 minutes of play, the B’s were caught in their own zone defending against New Jersey’s onslaught while Rask stood tall.

Midway through the period, Zboril held Janne Kuokkanen and pulled the Devils forward down, yielding a power play to New Jersey as Zboril was assessed a minor infraction at 11:25.

The Devils couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage as the B’s penalty kill successfully avoided giving up a power-play goal against.

Late in the period, Matt Grzelcyk (5) blasted a shot from the point that bounced off the ice, then off of New Jersey defender, Ryan Murray, and made its way into the net to give Boston a three-goal lead.

Marchand (36) and Bergeron (25) had the assists on Grzelcyk’s goal as the Bruins led, 3-0, at 17:17 of the third period.

At the final horn, Boston sealed the deal on a, 3-0, victory and clinched the final playoff berth in the MassMutual NHL East Division as a result.

The Bruins finished Monday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 42-20, despite trailing, 11-5, in the third period alone.

New Jersey wrapped up the effort with the lead in giveaways (12-5) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (12-9) and hits (18-7).

Both teams went 0/1 on the power play as the B’s improved to to 8-6-2 (5-3-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 23-5-3 (12-5-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal and 22-0-2 (9-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

New Jersey fell to 3-9-3 (0-8-1 at home) when tied after one period, 3-18-5 (0-10-3 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 1-22-2 (0-13-1 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

The Bruins face the Devils again on Tuesday in New Jersey before returning home to host the New York Rangers on Thursday and Saturday.

Boston’s last home game of the regular season is May 10th against the New York Islanders and the B’s will finish the regular season on May 11th in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals.

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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.