Tag Archives: Jaroslav Halak

Why the Boston Bruins Might Never Retire No. 30

For a lot of Boston Bruins fans, the term “goalie controversy” often draws up images of people shouting at each other on Twitter about Tim Thomas vs. Tuukka Rask– yes, even to this day, despite the fact that 1) Thomas was traded to the New York Islanders in 2013 and 2) that he effectively retired after the 2013-14 season split between the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars (he never announced his retirement officially, anyway). 

Both have a Stanley Cup ring to their names as they were members of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins roster, with Thomas leading the way to Boston’s first championship since 1972, while Rask was biding his time as the team’s backup before taking over as the full-time B’s starter since the 2012-13 season– racking up multiple franchise records in the process and two more Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013 and 2019.

But this “goalie controversy” has nothing to do with the galaxy brain Thomas vs. Rask arguments on Twitter.

This is about the “controversial” debate that rages surrounding retiring No. 30 in Boston and the controversies that surround two of its most prominent Bruins to wear it.

When considering whether or not to retire a number in Bruins lore, first consider what other Original Six teams have done, since they’re the only comparable franchises with almost as many– if not more– years of history than Boston.

Then consider the fact that Boston has never retired a number for a goalie. For quick reference, retired numbers of goalies are in bold.

Boston Bruins retired numbers

  • 2 Eddie Shore
  • 3 Lionel Hitchman
  • 4 Bobby Orr
  • 5 “Dit” Clapper
  • 7 Phil Esposito
  • 8 Cam Neely
  • 9 Johnny Bucyk
  • 15 Milt Schmidt
  • 16 Rick Middleton
  • 24 Terry O’Reilly
  • 77 Ray Bourque

Chicago Blackhawks retired numbers

  • 1 Glenn Hall
  • 3 Keith Magnuson/Pierre Pilote
  • 9 Bobby Hull
  • 18 Denis Savard
  • 21 Stan Mikita
  • 35 Tony Esposito

Detroit Red Wings retired numbers

  • 1 Terry Sawchuk
  • 4 Red Kelly
  • 5 Nicklas Lidstrom
  • 7 Ted Lindsay
  • 9 Gordie Howe
  • 10 Alex Delvecchio
  • 12 Sid Abel
  • 19 Steve Yzerman

Montreal Canadiens retired numbers

  • 1 Jacques Plante
  • 2 Doug Harvey
  • 3 Emile Bouchard
  • 4 Jean Beliveau
  • 5 Bernie Geoffrion/Guy Lapointe
  • 7 Howie Morenz
  • 9 Maurice Richard
  • 10 Guy Lafleur
  • 12 Yvan Cournoyer/Dickie Moore
  • 16 Henri Richard/Elmer Lach
  • 18 Serge Savard
  • 19 Larry Robinson
  • 23 Bob Gainey
  • 29 Ken Dryden
  • 33 Patrick Roy

New York Rangers retired numbers

  • 1 Eddie Giacomin
  • 2 Brian Leetch
  • 3 Harry Howell
  • 7 Rod Gilbert
  • 9 Andy Bathgate/Adam Graves
  • 11 Vic Hadfield/Mark Messier
  • 19 Jean Ratelle
  • 35 Mike Ritcher

Toronto Maple Leafs retired numbers

  • 1 Turk Broda/Johnny Bower
  • 4 Hap Day/Red Kelly
  • 5 Bill Barilko
  • 6 Irvine “Ace” Bailey
  • 7 King Clancy/Tim Horton
  • 9 Ted Kennedy/Charlie Conacher
  • 10 Syl Apps/George Armstrong
  • 13 Mats Sundin
  • 14 Dave Keon
  • 17 Wendell Clark
  • 21 Borje Salming
  • 27 Frank Mahovlich/Darryl Sittler
  • 93 Doug Gilmour

There’s not many retired goalie numbers among Original Six teams, let alone the rest of the NHL. Plus Boston hasn’t even retired No. 1 for Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and/or Frank Brimsek.

Next, think about Hockey Hall of Fame status, as well as career longevity (in Boston and outside of Boston).

Especially since there is no “Boston Bruins Hall of Fame” (which is a shame, really– they built The Hub on Causeway and they couldn’t dedicate more to team history/histories (if you include the NBA’s Boston Celtics) than just the entrance to the old Boston Garden standing inside of Banners Kitchen & Tap?).

Sure there’s The Sports Museum inside TD Garden, but the Montreal Canadiens have a Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame underneath Bell Centre. Your move, Mr. Jacobs.

Cam Neely– He didn’t play nearly enough games for his era due to Ulf Samuelsson, but Neely is a Hockey Hall of Fame member.

Rick Middleton– He played a lot, scored a ton, but Middleton isn’t a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Terry O’Reilly– He was like Milt Schmidt in that he did a lot for the Bruins organization (player and later coach), but O’Reilly isn’t a Hockey Hall of Fame member.

As with everything, there are exceptions to the rule and O’Reilly and Middleton are deservingly so in their own right.

Gerry Cheevers is a Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. Tim Thomas is a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. He’s still eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he hasn’t gotten in and there’s no guarantees that he’ll make it.

Interestingly enough, however, while Thomas might never be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Cheevers made it in 1985, but never won a Vezina (Thomas has two, 2008-09 and 2010-11) and was never named to an All-Star Team at season’s end (Thomas was named to two, 2008-09 and 2010-11).

Then think about how they left Boston.

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) came into fruition as a direct rival of the National Hockey League (NHL). The WHA promised better pay for players and the same– if not better– experience for fans.

It was created by a pair of American promoters who also made the American Basketball Association (ABA), which, if you’re a fan of basketball, you already know the ABA merger story with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to form the National Basketball Association (NBA, 1976-present).

From the onset, the ABA was poised to one day merge with the NBA in its efforts for success a la the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) merger prior to the 1970 NFL season.

The WHA was all about what the NHL wasn’t about.

They wanted to capitalize on markets where hockey could flourish, but were otherwise overlooked by the NHL, as well as attract the best players in the game by paying more than what NHL teams would– especially attracting European talent whereas the NHL was stuck as a “North American” game at the time. 

Free agency was a new concept for professional sports in the 1970s and it reigned supreme in the emerging shift towards player’s rights and the evolution of players’ associations.

The NHL’s reserve clause at the time meant players couldn’t become the equivalent of today’s unrestricted free agent until they were 31-years-old. These days, there’s restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency, as well as one-way and two-way contracts to worry about, but that’s another topic for another day.

Cheevers left the Bruins for the WHA, which was deplorable in the eyes of the NHL back then as much as it is now. 

Though fans might have loved seeing the Cleveland Crusaders jerseys, NHL owners hated them. 

Though players loved making more money at a time when all the other major professional sports were seeing significant raises, NHL owners hated them. 

Though WHA franchises thought they’d be on the fast track to continuing operations in the NHL after the WHA ceased to exist, the NHL went all out to slash and burn the remnants of the WHA. 

Seriously though, when the WHA initiated discussions for a merger in 1977, NHL owners voted down a plan to merge six WHA teams into the NHL.

The Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Cincinnati Stingers, Houston Aeros and Winnipeg Jets wanted out of a league that was hemorrhaging money and into the safe arms of the NHL and its tradition. 

By 1976, there were 32 major professional hockey teams between the NHL and WHA, which diluted the talent pool of a sport that was nowhere near the numbers of popularity and youth through junior league development as it is today.

When it came time to re-negotiate a merger in 1978, Houston was no longer in the plan, since the Aeros ended up having to fold.

The Indianapolis Racers folded in the middle of December 1978, which set the final nail in the merger. Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls would each be compensated to disband elsewhere, while Edmonton, New England, Quebec and Winnipeg would join the NHL at the WHA’s insistence.

Except it wasn’t that easy for the Oilers, Whalers, Nordiques and Jets. 

Each team would be stripped of its history– rendering them as NHL expansion teams for the start of the 1979-80 season, subject to expansion fees, an expansion draft and penalizing them by allowing NHL teams to reclaim players that jumped ship to the WHA.

Additionally, the Bruins petitioned the “New England Whalers” moniker, resulting in the Whalers having to drop “New England” in favor of “Hartford” since Boston didn’t want any confusion that the Whalers were playing on their turf (despite Massachusetts and Connecticut both being part of New England). 

The Bruins owned New England. 

That only strengthened the underdog status of the Whalers and the hatred between the two clubs in their Adams Division rivalry after realignment for the 1981-82 season (Hartford kicked things off in their NHL tenure in the Norris Division from 1979-81).

Anyway, back to Cheevers and his departure from the Hub.

After winning his second Cup with Boston in 1972, Cheevers jumped at the opportunity Cleveland created to make a lot more money than what the Bruins were offering their two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltender. 

Cheevers lasted parts of three seasons as a Crusader from 1972-73 to 1975-76, when a financial dispute with Cleveland’s management resulted in Cheevers jumping back into the NHL fold with Boston in the middle of the 1975-76 season.

Since becoming a starting goaltender in the 1967-68 season through Boston’s 1971-72 Cup winning season, Cheevers amassed a 126-52-40 record in 221 games with a 2.72 goals against average and a .915 save percentage in that span, as well as 15 shutouts.

Prior to his departure from the Bruins for Cleveland, he had a career best 2.50 GAA and .920 SV% in 41 games in the 1971-72 season alone as a 31-year-old goaltender (he wouldn’t turn 32 until Dec. 7, 1972).

Though Cheevers returned in 1975-76, things never were really the same.

His WHA tenure racked up a 99-78-9 record in 191 career games for the Crusaders from 1972 through part of the 1975-76 season– with a 3.12 GAA and 14 shutouts in that span.

On Jan. 27, 1976, he returned to Boston as a free agent after being released by Cleveland– two days after the Crusaders suspended him for not showing up and refusing to play.

By that point, Cheevers was 35-years-old and finished off the 1975-76 NHL season with an 8-2-5 record, as well as a 2.74 GAA and a .900 SV% in 15 games played for the Bruins.

In his full seasons for Boston that followed from 1976-77 to his retirement after the 1979-80 season, Cheevers went 87-35-24 in 151 games, with a 2.96 GAA, an .878 SV% and nine shutouts in that span.

Though the emergence of Wayne Gretzky to the NHL scene may have shifted the offensive output across the league since 1979, Cheevers’ NHL playing days only coincided with Gretzky in Gretzky’s rookie season (1979-80).

Though Cheevers had a .524 winning percentage in his first NHL stint with Toronto (two games)  and Boston (250 games) from 1961-72 and a .572 winning percentage after his WHA days in 166 games with Boston from 1976-80, his goals against average and save percentage suffered dramatically from a 2.85 GAA and a .911 SV% in 1961-72 to a 2.94 GAA and an .880 SV% from 1976-80.

Of course, age and the inevitable “wall” that players hit at the twilight of their prime is likely a factor here.

Still, the fact remains the same.

Despite leading the Bruins as a head coach after his retirement as a player from 1980-85, his defection from the NHL to the WHA crushed his immediate chances at being honored for his work on the ice in a sweater with the spoked-B on the front and the No. 30 on the back.

And all these years later, he might still be paying for it.

Thomas, on the other hand, chose to sit out the 2012-13 season, citing a need for more connection to his faith, family and friends.

Though it’s certainly understandable these days, given the presumptive hell he must have gone through with all of his concussions and finding the love for the game again– albeit watching as a fan these days– since his retirement from the NHL after the 2013-14 season, Thomas’ 2012-13 plans weren’t the first time he angered the Bruins fanbase, let alone, Boston’s front office.

After winning the Cup in 2011, he skipped out on the team’s White House invitation— citing (to paraphrase) that both major political parties are at fault for the federal government’s overbearance on its citizens.

Other than that, there’s his staunch– if not, outlandish at times– political views that cannot be overlooked (his support for Chick-fil-A amidst the company’s anti-equal marriage stance) in a day and age where Hockey Is (supposed to be) For Everyone.

Like the rest of us, however, Thomas is human– complex, contradicting, well-defined and unique as an individual. We all struggle through our own cognitive dissonance through life. 

For some, his on-ice performance can be separated from what his private off-ice personal life ensues. 

For others, he might not be as high on the pedestal of Boston sports lore due to his complicated nature– one that contradicts research and the science behind traumatic brain injuries, therapy and experimental treatments with conspiracy theories related to climate change, among other things.

All of this begs the question “should there be a character component to retiring numbers,” which could lead to further discussion surrounding whether or not teams should permanently unretire numbers when legendary players don’t live up to being role models off the ice (see, Bobby Hull and the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes). 

Likewise, the same argument could be applied to hall of fame inductions, but both are discussions for another time.

But Thomas’ decision to sit out the 2012-13 season with one-year remaining on his contract and a $5.000 million cap hit in a time when Boston was built for contending for another Cup run while spending $8.500 million combined between Thomas and Tuukka Rask in the crease as the team sat uncomfortably below the salary cap at about $68.868 million out of the $70.200 million ceiling, struck a nerve with then General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, and Co.

Oh and to further add to the uncertainty, the league hit a lockout prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, which saw the usual 82-game schedule reduced to 48 games that season once play resumed in January.

On Feb. 7, 2013, the Bruins traded Thomas to the New York Islanders to free up much needed cap space in an attempt to re-sign Rask, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, Anton Khudobin, Jaromir Jagr and others in the 2013 offseason after losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

Only Rask remained as Ference’s free agent status priced himself out of Boston, Jagr was deemed “too old” (joke’s on them!) and Horton left for the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shroud of “word on the street” rumors. Khudobin, meanwhile, went to the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year, $800,000 deal after Boston signed Chad Johnson for $200,000 less to be Rask’s backup for the 2013-14 season.

Thomas returned to the NHL for the 2013-14 season with the Florida Panthers after signing a one-year deal on Sept. 26, 2013, before later being traded to the Dallas Stars on March 5, 2014– one day after Florida re-acquired Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks.

His comeback season didn’t go well (posting a 16-20-3 record, a 2.87 goals against average and a .909 save percentage in 40 games with the Panthers, as well as a 2-4-1 record, a 2.97 GAA and a .902 SV% in eight games with the Stars) and Thomas rode off into the sunset after Dallas was eliminated in six games in the 2014 First Round by the Anaheim Ducks.

The Bruins may let bygones be bygones and welcome Thomas with open arms for a “Tim Thomas Night” or special ceremony one day in the future, but it likely won’t be before Rask retires.

As it is, Thomas isn’t planning on traveling much outside of his Washington, D.C. appearance for his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Dec. 2019.

So, what goaltender could have their number retired by Boston?

If there’s one Bruins goaltender that will have his number retired sooner rather than later, it’s Rask.

His current contract expires at the end of next season and Rask has expressed he might retire, but he also might not.

There’s three probable options for Rask when all is said and done in 2021;

1) to sign a short term deal and remain with Boston for his entire NHL career,

2) to sign a contract elsewhere or

3) to retire– finishing his career as one of the greatest goaltenders in Bruins history as he currently ranks 1st in wins (291– Tiny Thompson is 2nd with 252), 1st in games played (536– Thompson is 2nd with 468), 1st in saves (13,711– Eddie Johnston is 2nd with 12,375), 1st in save percentage among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played as a Bruin (.922– Thomas is 2nd with a .921), 1st in goals against average among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played for Boston (2.26– Byron Dafoe is 2nd with a 2.30), 2nd in shutouts among goalies with a minimum 100 games played for Boston (50– Thompson leads with 74) and– as a bonus– Rask leads with the most points by a goaltender with the Bruins (15, all assists– Cheevers is 2nd with 11, also all assists).

That’s no slouch and not just a result of suiting up in a bunch of games for one team without any real success whatsoever.

That same 2011 Stanley Cup championship year for the Bruins?

Rask was part of that.

Doesn’t matter if you’re the starter or the backup when your name goes on the Cup for a job well done as one of the best goaltending tandems that season. Besides, in today’s NHL, there’s an ever increasing importance for a 1A/1B solution in the crease.

Rask also backstopped the team to two more Stanley Cup Final appearances since then in 2013 and 2019.

He also won the Vezina Trophy in 2014 and was likely on track to pick up his second Vezina this season– number of games played compared to his peers, like Andrei Vasilevskiy, be damned– at its pause due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with a 2.12 GAA and a .929 SV%, as well as a 26-8-6 record in 41 games played.

No. 40 in black and gold led the NHL in goals against average this season and was second in save percentage, while sharing second place in shutouts with five.

Whether he wins this season’s Vezina Trophy or not, he’ll still have a consolation prize shared with his backup, Jaroslav Halak, as the duo won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the 2019-20 season as the goaltender(s) that have played a minimum of 25 games in a season for the team(s) with the fewest goals scored against it.

Rask and Halak allowed 174 goals this season in 70 games played, whereas Ben Bishop and Khudobin allowed 177 goals against for the Stars in 69 games.

This season’s hardware is Rask’s first Jennings Trophy win and Halak’s second career Jennings honors after previously sharing the title with Brian Elliott in the 2011-12 season with the Blues.

As for Rask’s jersey retirement case, it helps that he is tied for the best save percentage in league history (.922) with Dominik Hasek and 11th overall in the NHL’s all-time goals against averages with a 2.26 in his career.

Oh and the B’s have won the Presidents’ Trophy twice with Rask in the crease (2013-14 and 2019-20), something Thomas never did in his tenure with Boston and Cheevers could never do, since the award wasn’t presented for the first time until the 1985-86 season.

It’s possible the Bruins retire No. 40 before they make up for lost time and retire No. 30 for two players, like how the Toronto Maple Leafs retired No. 1 twice (Turk Broda and Johnny Bower).

After all, if you’re worried about running out of numbers that are typically used by a goaltender, Nos. 1, 29, 31, 35, 45 and any other number that isn’t already or won’t be retired by the time Boston gets around to retiring a goaltender’s jersey number (assuming the B’s retire No. 33 for Zdeno Chara, No. 37 for Patrice Bergeron, No. 46 for David Krejci and perhaps No. 63 and No. 88 by that time) will still be available.

DTFR Podcast #194- What If “Chelsea Dagger” Never Happened?

The DTFR crew creates rosters composed of “forgotten” players you might not remember that played for the Chicago Blackhawks anytime from 2000-present.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

Krug’s rocket leads Bruins to, 2-1, win in OT in Florida

Torey Krug and the Boston Bruins pulled off a, 2-1, comeback win in overtime against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at BB&T Center.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (18-6-6 record, 2.39 goals against average, .919 save percentage in 31 games played), made 32 saves on 33 shots against for a .970 SV% in the win.

Florida netminder, Chris Driedger (5-2-1, 2.29 GAA, .932 SV% in 10 games played) stopped 26 out of 28 shots faced for a .929 SV% in the overtime loss.

The B’s improved to 43-13-12 (98 points) on the season and remain in command of the Atlantic Division, while the Panthers fell to 33-26-8 (74 points) and stuck in 4th place in the Atlantic.

Boston improved to 21-10-3 on the road this season, as well.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Thursday night, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup among his forwards– moving Sean Kuraly back to center the fourth line with Anders Bjork replacing Par Lindholm at left wing.

Lindholm was joined by John Moore, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman in the press box as Boston’s healthy scratches in Florida.

Midway through the opening frame, Ondrej Kase awkwardly collided with Evgenii Dadonov, leaving Kase on his hands and knees and (somehow) a minor penalty for tripping Dadonov at 11:41 of the first period.

Florida did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.

A few minutes later, after Nick Ritchie tried to mix things up with Dadonov for the incidental contact with Kase that sent Kase down the tunnel before re-emerging from Boston’s dressing room moments after Jake DeBrusk served Kase’s minor for tripping Dadonov– Ritchie went square dancing with Riley Stillman.

The two players exchanged fisticuffs and received five-minute majors for fighting at 14:35 in what was the 18th fight this season for Boston– and the 11th since Jan. 1st.

It was Ritchie’s first fight in 46 personal games played this season and Stillman’s second fighting major in 33 personal games this season.

Less than a minute to go in the first period, Mike Matheson tripped up Brad Marchand and was sent to the penalty box as a result at 19:01.

Boston did not convert on their first skater advantage of the night.

Heading into the first intermission, the game was still tied, 0-0, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 12-4.

The Panthers held the advantage in takeaways (8-4), hits (9-6) and faceoff win percentage (67-33), while the B’s led in giveaways (6-4).

Both teams had six blocked shots aside and were 0/1 on the power play.

Early in the middle frame, MacKenzie Weegar (6) kicked things off with a one-timer from the point that beat Halak over the blocker with net front screen by Lucas Wallmark.

Brett Connolly (14) and Wallmark (13) had the assist’s on Weegar’s goal and Florida jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 6:55 of the second period.

Moments later, Dadonov threw an errant elbow on a reverse check in the corner, leaving Bruins defender, Brandon Carlo dazed as he was helped off the ice.

Carlo did not return to the game and was ruled out by Boston’s public relations team with an upper body in a tweet during the third period.

Dadonov was originally assessed a five-minute major penalty on the play, but a review lessened the infraction to two-minutes for elbowing at 10:46 of the second period.

The 30-year-old forward is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and has 25-21–46 totals in 67 games with the Panthers this season and has never been fined or suspended in his National Hockey League career (2009-12, 2017-present).

As a result of Thursday night’s loss, Florida is still four points outside of a playoff spot.

Boston’s power play unit didn’t take long while Dadonov was in the box to capitalize on the skater advantage as Krug rocketed a shot from the point that Patrice Bergeron (30) tipped in to reach the 30-goal plateau for the sixth time in his career (2003-present).

In doing so, Bergeron became the sixth Bruin in franchise history to record at least six 30-goal seasons, joining Phil Esposito (eight 30-goal seasons with Boston), Rick Middleton (eight), Johnny Bucyk (seven), Cam Neely (six) and Peter McNab (six).

Krug (39) and Marchand (57) notched the assists on Bergeron’s power play tally at 11:00 of the middle frame and the Bruins tied the game, 1-1.

Less than a minute later, Boston was back on the power play as Aleksander Barkov tripped up DeBrusk at 11:48, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on their third power play of the night.

Shortly after the Panthers killed off Barkov’s infraction, Florida went on the power play after Marchand caught Mike Hoffman with a hook at 15:06.

The Panthers didn’t score on the advantage, however.

With 1:59 remaining in the period, Anton Stralman took a puck to the face off an inadvertent deflection, but remained in the game.

Through 40 minutes of action at BB&T Center, the Bruins and Panthers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard with Florida holding an edge in shots on goal, 19-17.

Boston led in blocked shots (10-8), hits (16-14) and faceoff win% (57-43), while Florida led in takeaways (10-8) and giveaways (11-9).

The Panthers were 0/2 on the advantage, while the Bruins were 1/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Frank Vatrano slashed Jeremy Lauzon at 2:04 of the third period and was sent to the sin bin as a result, but Boston’s power play was cut short when Charlie Coyle tripped Stralman at 2:58.

The two sides escaped 4-on-4 action unharmed, but upon Vatrano’s re-admittance to the game, No. 77 in Panthers red and blue played the puck while one of his legs was still in the penalty box– resulting in an automatic interference minor penalty at 4:06.

Once more, the two clubs skated at 4-on-4 even strength until David Pastrnak got his stick between the legs of Barkov and brought down the Florida captain at 4:54 of the third period.

The Panthers emerged with an abbreviated power play after the two sides went through 4-on-4 action again, but Florida remained powerless on the power play.

At the end of regulation, the score remained tied, 1-1, and the Panthers led in shots on goal, 31-24.

Florida maintained the advantage in takeaways (12-10) and hits (24-21), while Boston led in faceoff win% (53-48).

Both teams had 14 blocked shots and 14 giveaways aside.

As there were no penalties called in overtime, the Panthers finished the night 0/4 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/4.

In overtime, Florida’s head coach, Joel Quenneville, opted to start Barkov, Hoffman and Aaron Ekblad, while Cassidy countered the Panthers’ trio with Coyle, DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy.

Late in the five-minute overtime period, after both teams swapped chance for chance, Pastrnak worked to retrieve a puck along the end boards that was sent in by Krug.

No. 88 in black and gold sent a pass back to Krug at the point, where No. 47 then wound up and blasted a slap shot past Driedger to end the game in overtime.

Krug’s (9) goal was assisted by Pastrnak (46) and David Krejci (29) at 4:08 of the overtime period and lifted the Bruins over the Panthers, 2-1.

Boston finished the game with victory on the scoreboard, but trailed Florida in shots on goal, 33-28.

The Panthers also held the advantage in giveaways (15-14) and hits (24-22), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams finished with 14 blocked shots each.

Florida fell to 2-4 in overtime this season and 4-8 overall past regulation, while Boston improved to 6-2 in overtime and 6-12 past 60 minutes overall in the regular season.

The Bruins improved to 13-2-6 (6-1-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 18-6-4 (8-5-1 on the road) when giving up the game’s first goal and 11-2-2 (6-2-0 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, the Panthers fell to 11-9-4 (4-5-2 at home) when tied after the first period, 25-5-4 (14-2-3 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal and 2-4-4 (0-3-2 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

Boston wrapped up their three-game road trip (3-0-0) on Thursday and plays host to the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on Saturday.

New B’s help Bruins over Stars, 4-3

The Boston Bruins beat the Dallas Stars, 4-3, Thursday night at TD Garden in a game that had a little bit of everything.

Jaroslav Halak (17-6-6 record, 2.44 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 30 games played) turned aside 31 out of 34 shots faced for a .912 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Stars goaltender, Ben Bishop (21-14-4, 2.49 GAA, .921 SV% in 42 games played), made 24 saves on 28 shots against for an .857 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 40-13-12 (92 points) on the season and remain in command of 1st place in the entire league, while Dallas fell to 37-21-6 (80 points) on the season, but remained in 3rd place in the Central Division.

The B’s also improved to 22-3-9 at home this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Thursday.

New acquisition, Ondrej Kase, made his Boston debut on the second line with David Krejci at center and Nick Ritchie at left wing.

As a result, Bruce Cassidy moved Jake DeBrusk down to the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork– just like how he swapped DeBrusk and Ritchie during Tuesday night’s, 5-2, loss to the Calgary Flames.

Cassidy made no other changes to the lineup, while Joakim Nordstrom, John Moore, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman served as Boston’s healthy scratches against Dallas.

Midway through the opening frame, Tyler Seguin tripped up Chris Wagner and was assessed a minor in fraction at 13:07 of the first period.

Boston did not score on the ensuing power play– their first skater advantage of the night.

Moments later, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Radek Faksa and was sent to the penalty box at 17:04.

Dallas converted on the resulting power play when John Klingberg snapped a shot from the point that looked was tipped in by Jamie Benn (19) for his 300th career goal.

Klingberg (25) and Joe Pavelski (16) had the assists on Benn’s goal, which made it, 1-0, for Dallas at 17:38.

Benn became the fourth player in Dallas/Minnesota North Stars franchise history to amass at least 300 career regular season goals, joining Mike Modano (557 career goals), Brian Bellows (342) and Dino Ciccarelli (332).

It marked the 18th time this season that Boston gave up the game’s first goal on home ice and the fifth straight game that Boston’s opponent scored first– regardless of the building.

Less than a minute later, Andrew Cogliano was punished for slashing Coyle and sent to the sin bin at 18:18.

While on the ensuing power play, Torey Krug sent a shot on goal from the point that rebounded off of Bishop and into Coyle’s strikezone whereby Coyle (16) batted the puck out of the air and into the twine for the home run power play goal.

Krug (35) and Brad Marchand (55) tallied the assists and the B’s tied the game, 1-1, at 19:44 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the score was even at, 1-1, while the Bruins led the Stars in shots on goal, 10-9.

Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Dallas led in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (3-1) and hits (9-8).

Both teams had three giveaways each.

The Stars were 1/1 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle period.

Things came to a crescendo when Krejci and Pavelski dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs at 11:24 of the second period.

The two players each received five-minute majors for fighting and play continued without any other major disruptions.

A few minutes later, Charlie McAvoy tossed a pass from about the goal line to Marchand (26) in the slot for a point blank one-timer.

McAvoy (24) and David Pastrnak (44) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led for the first time of the night, 2-1, at 14:44.

Less than a couple minutes later, Boston went up by two-goals as Ritchie (9) scored his first goal as a Bruin after snapping a shot from the high slot through net front traffic, off of Seguin and past Bishop.

Ritchie’s goal was unassisted and made it, 3-1, for the Bruins at 16:01 of the second period.

Late in the period, Wagner tackled Mattias Janmark after a whistle in defense of a teammate, but received a roughing minor for his retaliatory actions at 18:49.

Dallas didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Through 40 minutes of action, Boston was in command of the scoreboard, 3-1, and in shots on goal, 22-19.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (8-7), takeaways (4-3), giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Stars held the advantage in hits (19-16).

Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the third period.

Wagner wasn’t available to start the third period for the Bruins and later deemed “unlikely to return” to the game with an “upper body injury” by Boston’s media team.

Meanwhile, Dallas cut Boston’s lead in half, 3-2, after Esa Lindell fired a shot that deflected off of Denis Gurianov’s (19) stick, then off of Krug’s leg and past Halak at 1:18 of the third period.

Lindell (20) and Jason Dickinson (12) had the assists on Gurianov’s goal.

Boston responded with a goal of their own when Pastrnak broke into the attacking zone on a rush with Ritchie, sent Ritchie a pass, then received a shot that Pastrnak (46) intentionally redirected into the open twine.

Ritchie (12) and Jeremy Lauzon (1) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 4-2, at 3:53.

Stars head coach, Rick Bowness, pulled Bishop for an extra attacker with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

After Marchand missed the open net from just inside the blue line, Dallas charged down the length of the ice and sustained pressure in the attacking zone, while Boston was forced to defend.

Miro Heiskanen (8) ripped a shot that rebounded off of Halak, but clipped Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara’s, skate at just the right angle to bounce off of the Bruin and slip between the post and the Boston goaltender to make it a one-goal game.

Benn (18) and Seguin (33) tallied the assists on Heiskanen’s goal, but the Bruins still led, 4-3, at 17:36 of the third period.

Dallas pulled their goaltender once more with 1:58 remaining in regulation, but despite their best efforts, Boston’s defense wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice and held on to the, 4-3, victory at the final horn.

The Bruins won, 4-3, but finished the night trailing in shots on goal to the Stars, 34-28.

Dallas also wrapped up Thursday night with the advantage in hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston finished the game leading in blocked shots (14-9).

Both clubs had 11 giveaways and were 1/2 on the power play on Thursday.

The Bruins are now 12-2-6 when tied after one period and 25-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

The Stars are 9-8-4 when tied after one period and 9-16-1 when trailing after two periods this season.

Boston wrapped up their two-game homestand (1-1-0) on Thursday and finishes the month of February on the road against the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon.

Canucks down Bruins, 9-3

The Vancouver Canucks routed the Boston Bruins, 9-3, at Rogers Arena on Saturday night in what was Boston’s third game in four nights of traveling.

That said, Canucks goaltender, Jacob Markstrom (23-16-4 record, 2.75 goals against average, .918 save percentage in 43 games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .918 SV% in 58:12 time on ice en route to the win.

Meanwhile, his teammate and Canucks backup goaltender, Thatcher Demko (10-6-2, 3.03 GAA, .905 SV% in 20 games played) made a brief relief appearance for a 1:48 span after Markstrom took an inadvertent stick through the cage of his mask early in the first period.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (23-6-6, 2.17 GAA, .928 SV% in 36 games played) stopped 21 out of 27 shots faced for a .778 SV% in the loss.

Rask was replaced by Jaroslav Halak (16-6-6, 2.42 GAA, .918 SVT in 29 games played) after amassing 46:28 TOI and allowing six goals.

Halak came into the game during a stoppage in play after a Bruins power play goal in the second period and turned aside five out of the eight shots he faced for a .625 SV% en route to no decision in Boston’s loss.

All four goaltenders that dressed for the game took part in the action on Saturday– on a night in the National Hockey League where, 42-year-old, emergency backup goaltender, Dave Ayres, stole the show for the Carolina Hurricanes in their, 6-3, victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road.

Also, the Arizona Coyotes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-3, on Saturday night.

Apparently goaltending was optional league wide for one night only!

Boston fell to 39-12-12 (90 points) on the season, but remained in command of the entire league standings, while Vancouver improved to 33-22-6 (72 points) and rose to 2nd place in the Pacific Division.

The B’s also fell to 18-10-3 on the road this season, while the Canucks improved to 20-7-4 at home this season.

February 9, 2016 was the last time Boston allowed nine goals (a, 9-2, loss on home ice to the Los Angeles Kings).

Once more, the Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body/conditioning loan) on Saturday night.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Friday night’s, 4-3, win in Calgary to Saturday night’s action in Vancouver.

Joakim Nordstrom, Par Lindholm and John Moore were healthy scratches for Boston, while Ondrej Kase was a de facto healthy scratch as he won’t meet up with the team until Monday for practice at Warrior Ice Arena after having been acquired by the Bruins on Friday.

Kase hasn’t played since Feb. 7th due to an illness and was skating with the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday prior to being traded the following day.

A little past the four-minute mark in the action, the Canucks struck first with a blast from Troy Stecher (4) from the faceoff dot, off of Rask, then off the post and over the goal line– giving Vancouver the game’s first lead, 1-0.

Tyler Motte (4) and Jay Beagle (5) recorded the assists on Stecher’s goal at 4:14 of the first period.

Less than a few minutes later, Boston responded on the scoreboard with a goal of their own– tying the game, 1-1, when David Pastrnak (44) deked and wrapped the rubber biscuit around Markstrom with a forehand goal after breaking into the zone on a breakaway thanks to a stretch pass from Matt Grzelcyk through the neutral zone.

Grzelcyk (15) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s first goal of the night at 7:06 of the first period. The goal tied Pastrnak for the most goals by a Bruin in a season since Glen Murray scored 44 goals in the 2002-03 season.

Moments later, Danton Heinen caught Markstrom with an errant stick while engaged in a net front battle and accidentally clipped the Canucks goaltender inside the cage with the blade of his stick.

There was no penalty on the play and Markstrom was forced to briefly leave the game before returning almost two minutes later.

In the meantime, Jeremy Lauzon received a holding infraction against Elias Pettersson at the other end of the ice at 10:21 of the first period, which provided Markstrom with the chance to replace Demko at the stoppage in the action.

Less than a minute later, Canucks captain, Bo Horvat (19), rocketed a one-timer from the high slot past Rask while Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo were split chasing J.T. Miller deep into the corner (from where the one-timer opportunity was generated by Miller to Horvat) and protecting the front of the crease.

Miller (36) and Vancouver’s newest forward, Tyler Toffoli (18), tallied the assists on Horvat’s power play goal and the Canucks led, 2-1, at 11:08 of the opening frame.

About four minutes later, Horvat took a trip to the penalty box for a holding minor against Brad Marchand and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:34.

Boston’s power play was cut short when Patrice Bergeron also cut a rut to the sin bin for holding against Motte at 17:13– resulting in 21 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Canucks had an abbreviated power play.

Neither team was able to score on the special teams action.

After one period of play in Vancouver on Saturday, the Canucks led the Bruins, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 17-12, in shots on goal.

Vancouver also held the advantage in every other statistical category, including blocked shots (4-1), takeaways (7-4), giveaways (5-0), hits (14-10) and faceoff win percentage (57-43).

The Canucks were 1/2 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle frame, Adam Gaudette (11) wired a shot under the bar and over Rask’s glove from close range to extend Vancouver’s lead to two-goals.

Quinn Hughes (40) notched the only assist on Gaudette’s goal and Vancouver led, 3-1, at 5:32 of the second period.

Late in the period, the Canucks added a pair of goals when Tanner Pearson (18) pocketed a rebound to extend Vancouver’s lead to three-goals at 14:48.

Loui Eriksson (6) and Tyler Myers (13) had the assists on Pearson’s goal, which made it, 4-1, for the Canucks before Eriksson (6) tallied a goal of his own after stuffing in a loose puck off a deflection in the slot to make it, 5-1, for the Canucks.

Horvat (29) and Alexander Edler (21) recorded the primary and secondary assists on Eriksson’s goal at 15:39 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Chara took exception to Myers’ hit on Karson Kuhlman in front of the benches and attempted to engage the Vancouver defender in an exchange of fisticuffs, but the Canucks blue liner didn’t want any part of it.

As a result, Myers was assessed a minor for roughing, while Chara picked up two roughing minors at 16:37– yielding a power play to the Canucks in the waning moments of the middle frame.

With less than a minute left in the second period, Charlie Coyle and Horvat got into a scrap and traded punches.

Both players received five-minute majors for fighting at 19:30 and were sent to the dressing room 30 seconds ahead of everyone else.

Through 40 minutes of action in Vancouver, the Canucks led on the scoreboard, 5-1, and in shots on goal, 25-24.

The Canucks also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (11-2), takeaways (12-6), giveaways (8-3) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Bruins led in hits (25-23).

Vancouver was 1/3 on the skater advantage, while Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the third period.

Less than a minute into the final frame of regulation, Pettersson (25) snapped a wrist shot over Rask’s blocker side and into the twine.

Miller (37) and Stecher (9) had the assists on Pettersson’s goal and the Canucks led, 6-1, 46 seconds into the third period.

Moments later, Antoine Roussel caught Torey Krug with a high stick at 5:25 of the third period and presented the B’s with their second power play of the night.

This time around, Boston made sure to capitalize on the skater advantage.

Pastrnak (45) blasted one of his patented power play goals behind Markstrom to cut the deficit to four-goals at 6:28.

Krug (34) and Marchand (54) tallied the assists as Pastrnak picked up his 45th goal of the season– becoming the highest goal-scoring Bruin since Murray in 2002-03– and the B’s trailed, 6-2.

Before the ensuing faceoff, Cassidy replaced Rask with Halak in the crease.

Less than two minutes later, Boston began to mount some momentum with another quick goal from Chris Wagner (5)– his first goal in 18 games– after Wagner followed up on his own rebound and slipped in a backhand goal to make it, 6-3, at 8:11 of the third period.

Grzelcyk (16) and Sean Kuraly (16) had the assists on Wagner’s first goal since Jan. 7th.

Boston’s surge in momentum didn’t last long as Toffoli (19) slapped a one-timer past Halak about three minutes later.

Miller (38) had the only assist on Toffoli’s first goal and once again worked the puck from the end boards back to a teammate for the surefire one-timer goal at 11:10 of the third period and the Canucks led, 7-3.

Less than two minutes later, after Halak managed to stop multiple consecutive shots, finally the Canucks slipped a shot through as chaos ensued in front of the net.

Toffoli (20) mustered his second goal of the game and extended Vancouver’s lead back to five-goals.

Hughes (41) had the only assist on Toffoli’s second goal at 13:03 and the Canucks led, 8-3.

Finally, Jake Virtanen (17) snaked his way through the neutral zone and beat Halak clean with a wrist shot goal past Halak’s glove at 18:15 of the third period and extended Vancouver’s lead to six-goals.

Edler (22) and Stecher (10) each amassed their second assists of the night on Virtanen’s goal and the Canucks finished off the Bruins, 9-3.

At the final horn, Vancouver had beaten Boston, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 37-35.

The Canucks finished the night leading in every other stat, including blocked shots (18-6), giveaways (12-4), hits (31-29) and faceoff win% (55-46).

Vancouver wrapped up Saturday night’s action 1/3 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1/2 on the power play in the 60-minute effort.

Boston fell to 6-5-3 when trailing after one period and 5-9-4 when trailing after two periods this season, while Vancouver improved to 17-3-2 when leading after one period and 21-1-1 when leading after two periods this season.

Hughes became the 2nd Canucks rookie defender to record 40 or more assists in a season, joining Dale Tallon (14-42–56 totals) in 1970-71. Hughes joined Bryan Berard (40 in 1996-97), Janne Niinimaa (40 in 1996-97) and Nicklas Lidstrom (49 in 1991-92) as just the fourth rookie defender in the last 30 years to amass at least 40 assists in a single season.

Vancouver became the third different team this season to score nine goals, joining the Lightning (9-3, win against the New York Rangers on Nov. 14, 2019 and a, 9-2, win against Vancouver on Jan. 7, 2020) and Colorado Avalanche (9-4, win against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 7, 2019).

Boston finished their four-game road trip (3-1-0).

The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Tuesday, Feb. 25th and Thursday, Feb. 27th for meetings with the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.

B’s comeback to win, 4-3, in Calgary

After giving up two quick goals in the first period, the Boston Bruins came back to defeat the Calgary Flames, 4-3, on Friday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Jaroslav Halak (16-6-6 record, 2.33 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 28 games played) made 18 saves on 21 shots against for an .857 SV% in the win.

Flames goaltender, Cam Talbot (9-10-1, 2.83 GAA, .914 SV% in 23 games played) stopped 19 out of 23 shots faced for an .826 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 39-11-12 (90 points) on the season and remain in 1st place in the Atlantic Division, while Calgary fell to 31-25-6 (68 points) and remained in 4th place in the Pacific Division.

Boston also improved to 18-9-3 on the road this season with the victory and the B’s have now won 11 out of their last 12 games.

For just the seventh time in NHL history, a team that gave up three goals in the opening four minutes of a game came back to win as Calgary scored three goals in a little over three minutes into Friday’s action, but lost.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) on Friday, while Connor Clifton (upper body) is still with the Providence Bruins (AHL) on a conditioning stint.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor changes to his lineup from Wednesday night’s, 2-1, overtime win in Edmonton– swapping Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman on the second and third line right wings (reuniting Heinen with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci and Kuhlman with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle in the process).

Cassidy also re-inserted Anton Blidh on the fourth line left wing while scratching Joakim Nordstrom in the process.

Earlier in the day on Friday, Boston General Manager, Don Sweeney, made a trade with Anaheim Ducks GM, Bob Murray– sending David Backes, defensive prospect, Axel Andersson and Boston’s 2020 1st round pick to the Ducks for Ondrej Kase.

Boston retained 25% of Backes’ contract ($1.500 million through the 2020-21 season) in the transaction. Kase won’t join the team until Monday, when the Bruins are back from their current road trip and back to practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

Kase has not played since Feb. 7th with “flu-like symptoms”, but resumed skating on Thursday with the Ducks (prior to being traded on Friday).

Meanwhile, Nordstrom, Par Lindholm and John Moore served as healthy scratches for the Bruins on Friday.

Calgary charged into the attacking zone and fired a shot off the post in the opening seconds of Friday night’s action.

The puck rebounded right to the blade of Mikael Backlund (11), who promptly shot the puck past Halak as the Bruins netminder was committed to the initial shot off the iron and couldn’t recover in time.

Rasmus Andersson (15) and Noah Hanifin (14) had the assists on Backlund’s first goal of the game 20 seconds into the first period and the Flames had the game’s first lead, 1-0.

About two minutes later, Backlund (12) scored again on a one-timer as a result of a saucer pass from Tobias Rieder on a two-on-one break with Zdeno Chara as the lone defender for Boston.

Rieder (6) and Matthew Tkachuk (31) tallied the assists on Backlund’s second goal of the game and Calgary jumped out to a, 2-0, lead at 2:24 of the first period.

Not to be outdone, Patrice Bergeron (28) responded quickly after a shot from the point was deflected wide and caromed off the end boards to Bergeron in the slot for the backhand goal 24 seconds after the Flames extended their lead to two-goals.

David Pastrnak (42) and Charlie McAvoy (22) notched the assists on Bergeron’s first goal of the night as the B’s cut Calgary’s lead in half, 2-1, at 2:58 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Johnny Gaudreau (15) beat Halak with a backhand shot and put the Flames back in command of a two-goal lead.

Elias Lindholm (22) had the only assist on Gaudreau’s goal at 3:23 and Calgary led, 3-1.

Then for a short period of time (less than three minutes) neither team scored a goal.

But Bergeron wasn’t done scoring for the night as the lively boards at Scotiabank Saddledome worked in his favor once more and Bergeron (29) pocketed his second goal of the night on Talbot to pull the B’s within one-goal once more.

Pastrnak (43) and Brad Marchand (53) were credited with the assists on Bergeron’s second goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 6:12 of the first period.

Less than 30 seconds after the ensuing faceoff after Bergeron’s goal, Matt Grzelcyk leveled Rieder with a huge hit in the neutral zone, but was dealt a minor infraction for elbowing– yielding the first power play of the game to the Flames at 6:33.

Calgary didn’t convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.

Midway through the opening frame, Kuhlman sent Coyle into the attacking zone on a breakaway, whereby Coyle (15) deked backhand to forehand and wired a shot over Talbot’s glove to tie the game, 3-3, at 12:20 of the first period.

Kuhlman (5) and Bjork (10) tallied the assists on Coyle’s goal as the tow teams entered the first intermission deadlocked, 3-3, on the scoreboard, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 12-6.

The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (7-2) and faceoff win percentage (62-38), while the Flames led in giveaways (6-3) and hits (7-6).

Both teams had one takeaway aside, while Calgary was 0/1 on the power play. Boston did not see any time on the skater advantage in the entire game.

Less than a minute into the middle frame, Marchand (24) redirected a shot from Brandon Carlo and gave Boston their first lead of the night, 4-3, at 52 seconds of the second period.

Carlo (14) and Torey Krug (33) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and both teams combined for seven goals in the game in the first 21 minutes of action.

Nobody scored again for the rest of the night, however.

Midway through the second period, Jeremy Lauzon dropped the gloves with Tkachuk and the two players were sent to the box with fighting majors at 10:17 of the middle frame.

It was the 14th fight this season for Boston and the first career fighting major for the rookie Bruins defender, Lauzon.

Through 40 minutes of play in Calgary, the B’s led the Flames, 4-3, on the scoreboard and, 17-11, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-6) and giveaways (9-8), while Calgary held the advantage in takeaways (5-4) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams had 16 hits aside and the Flames were still 0/1 on the power play.

Early in the final frame, Bergeron tripped up Derek Ryan and was assessed a minor infraction at 5:55 of the third period.

Calgary didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

There were no goals and no more penalties scored in the final frame of regulation as both teams swapped chances and both goaltenders found their rhythm.

Flames interim head coach, Geoff Ward, pulled Talbot for an extra attacker with about a minute left in the game, but it was to no avail as the Bruins won, 4-3, at the final horn.

Boston finished Friday night’s effort leading in shots on goal (23-21), blocked shots (19-9), while Calgary ended the night leading in hits (22-20) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams had 11 giveaways each and the Flames ended the night 0/2 on the power play.

The Bruins have now won 11 out of their last 12 games and improved to 11-2-6 when tied after one period and 24-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

Boston also improved to 16-4-4 when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while Calgary fell to 17-7-3 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

The Flames also fell to 10-10-2 when tied after one period and 7-24-2 when trailing after two periods this season.

Boston wraps up their four-game road trip (3-0-0) on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.

The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Feb. 25th and Feb. 27th for meetings with the Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.

Halak, B’s beat Rangers, 3-1

The Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-1, at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon and swept their regular season series (3-0-0) against New York for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Jaroslav Halak (15-6-6 record, 2.31 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 27 games played) stopped 25 out of 26 shots faced for a .962 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (14-12-1, 2.98 GAA, .912 SV% in 28 games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against for a .939 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 37-11-12 (86 points) on the season and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while New York fell to 30-24-4 (64 points) and in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also improved to 16-9-3 on the road this season and have won ten out of their last 12 games.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) on Sunday as the Bruins defender has yet to make his season debut due to lingering issues from his knee injury last season and subsequent re-injuries since then.

Connor Clifton (upper body), while listed as “day-to-day” since being injured against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 29th, was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of Sunday’s contest as part of a conditioning stint and is likely to return to full health with Boston in the near future.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Saturday’s, 4-1, win against the Detroit Red Wings, while Halak was back in the net for the first time since Feb. 5th (a, 2-1, overtime win in Chicago).

Par Lindholm, John Moore and Anton Blidh served as Boston’s healthy scratches on Sunday.

Midway through the opening frame, Ryan Lindgren checked Brad Marchand along the wall at the benches and got into a bit of an exchange that resulted in only the Rangers defender heading to the penalty box with a minor infraction for roughing at 11:31 of the first period.

Boston didn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

In the final minute of the first period, Charlie McAvoy (3) ripped a shot from the point that appeared to have redirected off a New York skater prior to the puck floating in the air and over Geogiev’s shoulder for the game’s first goal at 19:18.

McAvoy’s goal– his third in the last six games for the B’s– was unassisted with 41.7 seconds left in the period.

The Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard entering the first intermission and, 11-9, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (4-3), while New York led in blocked shots (6-4), hits (11-6) and faceoff win percentage (52-48). Both teams had one takeaway aside.

The Rangers had yet to see time on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Early in the middle frame, David Krejci caught Lindgren with a high stick on a follow through while both players went after a bouncing puck.

Krejci’s high stick drew blood and resulted in a four-minute double minor penalty at 5:06 of the second period. The Rangers failed to capitalize on the lengthy power play.

Late in the period, Marchand cross checked Lindgren after the Rangers defender shoved Bruins forward, Patrice Bergeron, after a stoppage in play in front of the New York net.

Marchand was assessed a minor infraction at 17:14 and the Rangers went on the power play.

While on the ensuing penalty kill, Charlie Coyle (14) stole the puck from New York defender, Jacob Trouba, and created his own breakaway before elevating the puck over Georgiev’s glove side to give Boston a two-goal lead.

Coyle’s short handed goal was unassisted and gave the Bruins a, 2-0, lead at 18:42 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, after killing off Marchand’s minor, Boston went on the power play after Mika Zibanejad tripped up Marchand in Boston’s own zone at 19:33.

The B’s did not score on the resulting power play.

After two periods of play, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 24-17.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (5-4), hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Rangers led in blocked shots (10-8) and giveaways (14-8).

New York was 0/3 on the power play and Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.

Karson Kuhlman kicked off the final frame with an interference minor infraction against Marc Staal at 4:23 of the third period. The Rangers did not score on the resulting power play, but got another chance almost midway through the final frame.

Torey Krug tripped up Zibanejad at 9:05 and presented New York with their fifth power play opportunity of the afternoon.

Less than a minute into the ensuing skater advantage, Zibanejad (25) rocketed a shot from the point that ricocheted off a Bruins player’s stick and into the twine behind Halak– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

Artemi Panarin (49) and Ryan Strome (36) tallied the assists on Zibanejad’s goal at 9:52 of the third period and New York surged in momentum.

Boston was able to withstand the Rangers’ rally as New York’s head coach, David Quinn, pulled Georgiev for an extra attacker with 90 seconds remaining in regulation.

After the Bruins iced the puck with 35.5 seconds left in the game, the Rangers used their timeout to draw up one last plan in effort to tie the game, but it was to no avail as the B’s worked the puck out of their own zone upon the ensuing faceoff.

Marchand found Bergeron (26) in the dying seconds of the game for the empty net goal that assured Boston of the, 3-1, victory.

Bergeron’s goal was assisted by Marchand (51) at 19:47 of the third period and sealed the deal for the Bruins as the final horn sounded 12.2 seconds later.

Boston finished the afternoon with a “W” in the win column and the lead in shots on goal (34-26) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York finished the game with the advantage in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (20-12) and hits (29-25).

The Rangers finished Sunday’s effort 1/5 on the power play, while the Bruins went 0/2 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 22-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal, 21-5-3 when leading after the first period and 22-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

New York, on the other hand, fell to 10-16-1 when they allow the game’s first goal, 5-14-2 when trailing after the first period and 2-18-0 when trailing after two periods this season.

Boston continues their four-game road trip (1-0-0) with stops against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday (Feb. 19th), Calgary Flames on Friday (Feb. 21st) and Vancouver Canucks next Saturday (Feb. 22nd).

The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Feb. 25th and Feb. 27th for meetings with the Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.

Athanasiou scores two as Detroit tops Boston, 3-1

The last place in the National Hockey League, Detroit Red Wings, beat the first place in the NHL, Boston Bruins, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena.

Red Wings goaltender, Jonathan Bernier (12-14-2 record, 2.82 goals against average, .911 save percentage in 32 games played), stopped 39 out of 40 shots against for a .975 SV% in the win.

Bruins netminder, Tuukka Rask (20-5-6, 2.14 GAA, .911 SV% in 32 games played) made 17 saves on 19 shots faced for an .895 SV% in the loss after starting in Saturday’s, 4-2, win over the Arizona Coyotes.

Boston fell to 34-11-12 (80 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while Detroit improved their record to 14-39-4 (32 points), despite staying in 8th place in the Atlantic.

The Bruins also fell to 15-9-3 on the road this season and are 0-2-0 against the Red Wings with two games remaining against Detroit in their season series.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body), Joakim Nordstrom (allergy complications) and Jeremy Lauzon (suspension) on Sunday, while Bruce Cassidy made a few minor changes to his lineup.

Danton Heinen returned to action on the fourth line left wing in Detroit, while Anton Blidh was joined by Urho Vaakanainen as the only healthy scratches for the B’s.

Vaakanainen was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on an emergency basis in case Brandon Carlo’s flight was delayed.

On defense, Carlo was back from his personal leave on the second pairing with Torey Krug and John Moore filled in on the right side of the third pairing with Matt Grzelcyk while Lauzon served the first half of his two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Arizona Coyotes forward, Derek Stepan, on Saturday.

Nordstrom, meanwhile, was retroactively placed on the injured reserve and may be available in time for Wednesday night’s action against the Montreal Canadiens.

Jaroslav Halak was expected to start in goal for Boston and took part in warmups as usual, but was not given the green light to start the game after feeling ill.

Instead, Rask made back-to-back starts on back-to-back days while Halak was deemed “available if necessary”. The last time Rask played on consecutive days was Nov. 12-13, 2016.

He won on both days as the Bruins beat the Coyotes, 2-1, on Nov. 12, 2016 and Colorado Avalanche, 2-0, on Nov. 13, 2016.

Brad Marchand tripped up Bernier in the trapezoid at 3:01 of the first period and presented Detroit with the game’s first power play, but the Red Wings weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Sean Kuraly tripped Valtteri Filppula at 10:55 and put the Red Wings back on the power play, but once more Detroit could not score.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams play, Trevor Daley was guilty of holding Kuraly at 13:15 and gave Boston their first power play of the afternoon.

The B’s went on a two-skater advantage after Filppula tripped Jake DeBrusk at 13:57 and presented the Bruins with a 1:18 span of 5-on-3 action, but Bernier stood tall and denied each shot fired at him.

Late in the period, Justin Abdelkader tripped Charlie Coyle and presented Boston with another power play at 16:10, but Detroit’s penalty killing efforts were well oiled by that point and killed off Abdelkader’s minor infraction with ease.

Entering the first intermission, the score remained tied, 0-0, and and the Bruins led in shots on goal, 12-6.

Boston also held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (65-35), while Detroit led in blocked shots (5-1), giveaways (4-3) and hits (8-5).

The Red Wings were 0/2 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Early in the middle frame, Brendan Perlini (1) deked around Carlo and snapped a shot off of Rask’s glove and into the twine to give Detroit the first lead of the afternoon, 1-0, at 2:07 of the second period.

Adam Erne (2) had the only assist on Perlini’s first goal of the season, as well as his first as a Red Wing.

Midway through the second period, Marchand thought he had tied the game on a tip-in through Bernier’s five-hole off a no-look shot from David Pastrnak initially, but Red Wings head coach, Jeff Blashill, used his coach’s challenge– arguing that Boston had actually been offside entering the zone prior to the goal.

After review, it was determined that the Bruins were offside as Patrice Bergeron was in the midst of stepping off the ice and into the visiting bench while on a line change as Krug rocketed the puck around the boards.

The call on the ice was overturned– no goal– and the Red Wings remained in command of a, 1-0, lead with 7:27 remaining in the second period.

Late in the period, Detroit defender, Patrik Nemeth, held DeBrusk and was sent to the sin bin as a result at 17:04, but the Bruins went unsuccessful on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Through 40 minutes of action on Sunday afternoon, the Red Wings were still ahead, 1-0, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 26-13.

The B’s held the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44), while Detroit led in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (12-9) and hits (14-9).

After two periods of play, the Red Wings were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play.

Early in the final frame, Pastrnak caught a Red Wing with a high-stick on a follow through while trying to corral the puck, but failing.

The follow through went uncalled and actually better positioned Pastrnak to receive a pass from Bergeron as Pastrnak entered the attacking zone alone, faked a shot, then slid a pass to Krug (8) for the one-timer goal that tied the game, 1-1, just 33 seconds into the third period.

Pastrnak (40) and Bergeron (24) tallied the assists on Krug’s goal.

After that, things only went downhill for Boston.

DeBrusk returned the favor from earlier in the game and tripped Daley and gave Detroit a power play at 6:01.

The Bruins penalty kill lasted a little more than a minute into the special teams play before the Red Wings perfected a quick pass through the slot from Tyler Bertuzzi to Andreas Athanasiou (6) for the one-timer goal as Rask couldn’t keep up with the short-range blast.

Bertuzzi (20) and Dylan Larkin (25) notched the assists on Athanasiou’s first goal in about 20 games– putting Detroit back into command with the, 2-1, lead at 7:10 of the third period.

With less than two minutes remaining in the game, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but the Red Wings quickly capitalized on the open goal-frame in Boston’s own zone.

Detroit got a quick break out of their zone and sent Christoffer Ehn and Athanasiou on a two-on-one that became an unguarded breakaway– paving the way for Athanasiou (7) to score his second goal of the game and seal the deal on a, 3-1, victory for the Red Wings.

Ehn (2) and Filip Hronek (19) had the assists on Athanasiou’s empty net goal at 19:31.

At the final horn, Detroit finished the game with the, 3-1, win despite being outshot by Boston, 40-20.

The Red Wings finished the afternoon leading in blocked shots (12-10), giveaways (18-14) and hits (23-14), while the Bruins finished Sunday’s action leading in faceoff win% (55-45).

Detroit went 1/3 and Boston went 0/4 on the power play.

The B’s dropped to 10-2-6 when tied after one period and 5-8-4 when trailing after two periods this season and had their six-game winning streak snapped by the Red Wings who had lost 10 out of their last 11 games entering Sunday.

Detroit has now defeated Boston in their last five regular season meetings.

One consolation for Boston, however, is that they still have won seven out of their last nine games.

The Bruins home for a two-game homestand against Montreal on Wednesday (Feb. 12th) and Red Wings on Saturday (Feb. 15th) before going on a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

McAvoy lifts B’s over Blackhawks, 2-1, in OT

Charlie McAvoy scored his first goal of the season to lift the Boston Bruins over the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1, in overtime Wednesday night at United Center.

Boston goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (14-6-6 record, 2.36 goals against average, .921 save percentage in 26 games played), made 21 saves on 22 shots against for a .955 SV% in the overtime win.

Meanwhile, Chicago netminder, Robin Lehner (15-8-5, 2.83 GAA, .923 SV% in 30 games played) stopped 38 out of 40 shots faced for a .950 SV% in the overtime loss.

The Bruins improved to 33-10-12 (78 points) and took over 1st place in the entire league standings, while maintaining their 1st place standing in the Atlantic Division.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, fell to 25-21-8 (58 points) and moved into 4th place in the Central Division.

Boston improved to 15-8-3 on the road this season as Bruce Cassidy earned his 150th win behind the bench as head coach of the Bruins.

The B’s are now on a five-game winning streak and have won six out of their last seven games.

Once more, Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Joakim Nordstrom (allergy complications) were out of the lineup for Boston on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Danton Heinen (undisclosed/healthy scratch) also remained out of the lineup as Cassidy made no changes to his lineup from Tuesday night’s, 4-0, victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Boston to Wednesday night’s matchup with the Blackhawks in Chicago.

John Moore was the only healthy scratch for the B’s (if Heinen technically wasn’t a healthy scratch for the 2nd game in a row).

Late in the opening frame, Blackhawks defender, Slater Koekkoek, was guilty of holding Bruins forward, Sean Kuraly, and assessed a minor penalty at 15:56 of the first period.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity– their first skater advantage of the night.

After one period of play at United Center on Wednesday, the score was still tied, 0-0, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 16-5.

Chicago held the advantage in blocked shots (7-2), giveaways (4-1) and faceoff win percentage (61-39), while Boston led in hits (14-5). Both teams had five takeaways aside entering the first intermission.

The Blackhawks had yet to see time on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Early in the middle period, David Krejci boarded Adam Boqvist and sent the young Blackhawks skater out of the game as Chicago’s media relations crew would later tweet that Boqvist was done for the night with a right shoulder injury.

Chicago went on the power play at 6:13 of the second period and took less than a minute to capitalize on the skater advantage.

Patrick Kane pinched along the boards to cut off a clearing attempt by Brad Marchand and stole the puck in the process.

Kane sent the rubber biscuit towards the net where Kirby Dach got a chance before Alex DeBrincat (13) pocketed a rebound off Halak and through the Bruins goaltender’s seven-hole to give the Blackhawks the game’s first goal at 6:50 of the second period.

DeBrincat’s power play goal was assisted by Dach (10) and Kane (41) and gave Chicago the, 1-0, lead.

Almost a few minutes past the midpoint of regulation, Kuraly (5) skated wide around the net and threw the puck towards the goal whereby the puck bounced off of Lehner’s stick and went through the Blackhawks netminder’s five-hole– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Matt Grzelcyk (14) and Anders Bjork (9) tallied the assists on Kuraly’s goal at 12:49 and the B’s were on the scoreboard.

Moments later, Jeremy Lauzon caught Kane with an errant stick and was assessed a high sticking minor at 16:43.

Chicago did not score on the ensuing power play.

Both teams entered the second intermission tied on the scoreboard, 1-1, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 27-13.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Blackhawks led in blocked shots (14-9) and giveaways (6-3), while Boston held the advantage in takeaways (11-10), hits (21-12) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Chicago was 1/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/1 entering the third period.

Brandon Saad opened the final frame of regulation with a slashing penalty against Bjork at 5:53 of the third period.

Boston did not score on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the third period, Alexander Nylander tripped up David Pastrnak, but Pastrnak embellished the call and the two skaters received minor penalties– yielding 4-on-4 action for two minutes at 11:41.

Three minutes later, Chris Wagner was called for slashing against Dach while the Blackhawks forward nearly had a breakaway at 14:41.

This time, however, Chicago was not able to convert on the skater advantage.

Less than a few minutes later, Zack Smith delivered an illegal check to the head of Torey Krug along the glass just about in the neutral zone near the penalty box and received a minor penalty at 17:34.

Seconds into Boston’s power play, Ryan Carpenter received a misconduct from the officials at 17:48 for something he did or said that only the refs would know about.

Almost 90 seconds into Boston’s power play, Krug tripped up Olli Maatta as the Blackhawks defender appeared to deliver a hand pass to move the puck through the neutral zone, which led to what otherwise might have been a goal for Chicago had it not been immediately waved off.

Regardless, the Bruins’ skater advantage was no more, resulting in an abbreviated 4-on-4 stint at 18:55 of the third period before the Blackhawks would go on an abbreviated power play to close out regulation time.

After three periods of play at United Center on Wednesday, the two teams required overtime as the game was deadlocked, 1-1, on the scoreboard.

Boston held the advantage in shots on goal (38-22) and hits (25-16) through 60 minutes of play, while Chicago led in blocked shots (18-14), giveaways (10-5) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Both teams had 13 takeaways aside as the Blackhawks were 1/4 on the power play and the B’s were 0/3 entering the extra frame.

Chicago began the overtime period with about 55 seconds left on the power play and a 4-on-3 advantage to begin what is usually 3-on-3 action in overtime (except for when there’s a power play involved).

Cassidy elected to start Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo in overtime, while Blackhawks head coach, Jeremy Colliton, matched Boston’s skaters with Jonathan Toews, Kane, DeBrincat and Erik Gustafsson.

Shortly after killing off Krug’s minor, the Bruins raced up-ice on a give-and-go.

Jake DeBrusk flung the puck towards the slot where McAvoy (1) was awaiting the perfect chance to redirect the rubber biscuit with his blade from the edge of the crease to give the B’s the, 2-1, overtime victory with his 3rd career regular season overtime goal.

DeBrusk (16) and Krejci (25) notched the assists as Boston finished the night off with the win at 1:19 of the overtime period.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal (40-22) and hits (25-16), while the Blackhawks left Wednesday night’s matchup with the lead in blocked shots (18-14), giveaways (11-5) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Chicago went 1/4 on the power play on Wednesday and Boston went 0/3.

The Bruins, in the meantime, improved to 9-1-6 when tied after one period, 10-2-3 when tied after two periods and 4-5 in overtime this season. The B’s are now 4-12 past regulation overall.

Chicago fell to 4-4 in overtime this season and 7-8 past regulation overall.

Boston returns home for a matchup with the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday before traveling to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Sunday.

Penguins rally for four unanswered in, 4-3, win over Boston

For the third time this season, the Boston Bruins blew a three-goal lead and lost, 4-3, on Sunday– this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

Matt Murray (15-6-4 record, 2.84 goals against average, .900 save percentage in 27 games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .919 SV% in the win for the Pens.

B’s goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (11-6-6, 2.49 GAA, .918 SV% in 23 games played) stopped 18 out of 22 shots faced for a .918 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 28-10-12 (68 points), but remained in command of the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh improved to 31-13-5 (65 points) and maintained their 2nd place status in the Metropolitan Division.

The Bruins also fell to 12-8-3 on the road this season and dropped to 2-1-0 in the season series against the Penguins (won, 6-4, at Boston on Nov. 4th, won, 4-1, at Boston on Jan. 16th and lost, 4-3, at Pittsburgh on Jan. 19th).

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body), Tuukka Rask (concussion) and David Krejci (upper body) on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Miller has yet to make his season debut, while Clifton and Krejci are considered “day-to-day”. Rask, on the other hand, remains on the injured reserve since sustaining a concussion in Columbus on Jan. 14th.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Thursday night’s, 4-1, win over the Penguins in Boston, but Bruins General Manager, Don Sweeney, made a couple minor transactions.

First, Sweeney placed David Backes on waivers for the purpose of assignment to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Friday. Backes had one goal and two assists (three points) in 16 games with Boston this season and cleared waivers on Saturday.

The Bruins saved about $1.075 million in cap space as a result of the transaction.

Finally, Sweeney made paper transactions over the course of Friday and Saturday assigning Dan Vladar to Providence and recalling Maxime Lagace on an emergency basis before reassigning Lagace and calling up Vladar on an emergency basis ahead of Sunday’s matinee.

Vladar once again served as the backup goaltender for Halak against Pittsburgh.

Steven Kampfer and Anton Blidh were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Sunday.

Shortly after puck drop, Patrice Bergeron (21) waltzed into the attacking zone and fired a shot through Murray’s five-hole after Brad Marchand connected on a pass with Bergeron.

Bergeron’s goal gave Boston the, 1-0, lead 11 seconds into the first period and was assisted by Marchand (44) and David Pastrnak (33).

Less than two minutes later, Anders Bjork (8) sniped a shot over Murray’s glove into the top-corner of the twine to make it, 2-0, for the Bruins at 2:02 of the first period.

Charlie Coyle (17) and Jake DeBrusk (14) notched the assists on Bjork’s goal as the B’s scored two goals in a span of 1:51.

Murray received a “Bronx cheer” from his home crowd after stopping an ensuing dump-in by Boston and was nearly spotless until late in the first period when Pastrnak (37) spun and threw a puck towards the net hoping to connect on a pass to Marchand, but instead deflected the puck off of Jack Johnson and behind the Penguins goaltender.

Pastrnak’s goal was unassisted and gave Boston a three-goal lead, 3-0, at 15:07 of the first period.

About 90 seconds later, the Pens responded and showed a sign of life when Sidney Crosby sent a pass from behind the net to Dominik Simon (6) for a one-timed shot from the goal line that beat Halak on the glove side– cutting into Boston’s lead and putting Pittsburgh on the scoreboard, 3-1.

Crosby (16) and Patric Hornqvist (8) tallied the assists on Simon’s goal at 16:34.

Almost two minutes later, Teddy Blueger was sent to the penalty box for hooking against Brandon Carlo and the Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the afternoon at 18:23.

Boston didn’t convert on the ensuing power play, which spilled over into the second period.

After one period in Pittsburgh, the Bruins led the Penguins, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 13-6, in shots on goal.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (1-0), hits (12-11) and faceoff win percentage (72-28), while the Pens led in blocked shots (8-3) and giveaways (3-0).

Pittsburgh had yet to see time on the skater advantage, while Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle frame, Marchand turned the puck over to the Penguins– giving Kris Letang a free puck that he sent off the endboards for Crosby to scoop up and send between his legs to Blueger (7) for the goal that cut Boston’s lead to one.

Crosby (17) and Letang (21) had the assists on Blueger’s goal 33 seconds into the second period and the Pens trailed, 3-2.

Despite amassing five shot attempts on the power play, the Bruins failed to record a shot on goal while on the advantage.

Midway through the second period, Chris Wagner was penalized for interference at 12:09 and presented Pittsburgh with their first power play of the afternoon.

Less than a minute later, Letang and Marchand got tangled up and received matching roughing minors at 13:00 of the second period, but Pittsburgh’s 5-on-4 advantage was unchanged.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins still led the Penguins, 3-2, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 23-18– despite being outshot by the Pens, 12-10, in the second period alone.

Pittsburgh held the advantage in blocked shots (13-5) and giveaways (8-1), while Boston led in takeaways (4-2), hits (24-22) and faceoff win% (58-42).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Just 20 seconds into the third period, Letang was sent to the sin bin for elbowing Marchand, but instead of capitalizing on the ensuing power play, Boston’s special teams was powerless and allowed a shorthanded goal against.

Johnson (3) blasted a shot from the point and beat Halak under the blocker on the short side while the Bruins defense looked on and watched it unfold as Bergeron had to draw back and defend alongside Torey Krug.

Brandon Tanev (12) had the only assist on Johnson’s goal at 1:41 of the third period and the Penguins tied it, 3-3.

Midway through the third, despite Boston doing everything they could to slip another puck past Murray, Pittsburgh made the most of their opportunities as Bryan Rust (21) sent home a one-timer goal over Halak’s blocker while Halak was lost and the B’s defense was out of position.

Evgeni Malkin (35) forced the initial turnover by Charlie McAvoy and sent the pass to Rust for the only assist on the game-winning goal as the Penguins led, 4-3, at 12:35 of the third period.

With 2:19 remaining in regulation Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Matt Grzelcyk received a tripping infraction at 19:04.

Despite using his timeout with 55.5 seconds left in the game, Cassidy’s crew couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone and struggled to free Halak from his crease for an extra skater in the dying dozen seconds or so as the final horn sounded and the Penguins had completed the comeback.

At the end of the afternoon, Pittsburgh had won, 4-3, despite trailing in shots on goal, 37-22– including a, 14-4, advantage for Boston in the third period alone.

The Pens finished the game leading in blocked shots (22-7), giveaways (12-3) and hits (37-28), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (58-42).

Both teams went 0/2 on the power play on Sunday.

Boston fell to 18-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal, 17-5-3 when leading after the first period and 15-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

The B’s have won six out of their last ten games against Pittsburgh, but are on a six-game losing streak at PPG Paints Arena.

The Bruins fell to 200-2-6 when leading by at least three goals since 2010-11.

Boston returns home for their last game prior to the All-Star break next Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Bruins resume play on Friday, Jan. 31st in Winnipeg thereafter.