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2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier Preview: Eastern Conference

Hockey’s back. In August!?! In this economy?!?

Yes, truer words have never been spoken. Hockey. Is. Back.

But not in the way you’re probably thinking if you’ve been under a rock for the last– let’s see, what month is it now?

The National Hockey League paused the 2019-20 regular season on March 12th due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic before canceling the rest of the regular season in late May and announcing a 24-team playoff format for 2020.

Make no mistake, whether you put an asterisk next to the winners of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final or not– it’ll be the hardest Cup to win since Lord Stanley of Preston announced he’d donate the silver rose bowl to the best hockey team in the world (so Canada) on March 18, 1892.

Despite all the training world class athletes do in contemporary times, nothing could prepare any athlete to stop playing, go through training camp after months of (in some cases) not being able to skate on any ice, then go full throttle for a championship tournament.

If anything, the asterisk next to the 2020 Stanley Cup champions will simply be a marker for the challenging times and remarkable feats of athleticism that team went through to put it all together and lift a 35-pound trophy at the end.

By now you’ve probably heard how the 2020 postseason will work– 24 teams vying for 16 spots, with eight teams (four in each conference) already locked into the playoffs, but fighting for the top-four seeds as the other 16 teams compete in a best-of-five series to punch a ticket into the playoffs.

Those 16 teams are in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, which technically isn’t part of the 2020 postseason according to the NHL, but the individual player and team stats will count towards the playoffs in the record books.

So for Arizona Coyotes fans, the long standing playoff drought since 2012, technically isn’t over yet. They’d have to beat the Nashville Predators first.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference Qualifiers, while the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers sort themselves out.

All Eastern Conference games will be at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario until the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final (both of which will be held in Edmonton, Alberta at Rogers Place).

(5) Pittsburgh Penguins (40-23-6, 86 points) vs (12) Montreal Canadiens (31-31-9, 71 points)

Pittsburgh: 69 games played, .623 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

Montreal: 71 games played, .500 points percentage, 19 regulation wins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were 5th in the Eastern Conference at the time of the pause and being led by Evgeni Malkin with 74 points in 55 games played, while Bryan Rust (56 points in 55 games) and Sidney Crosby 47 points in 41 games) trailed the Russian star on the roster. 

Yes, Malkin missed 14 games and still amassed 74 points in a season for the Penguins, while Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, carefully charted the course through a bevy of injuries to bring his team within striking range of the Metropolitan Division lead had the regular season seen its full conclusion.

The Washington Capitals topped the Metropolitan Division with 90 points. The Philadelphia Flyers had 89. Pittsburgh had 86.

An annual Stanley Cup contender since Sullivan led the Penguins to back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017 (their second and third since 2009– fourth and fifth in franchise history), Pittsburgh’s goaltending might be the only thing that holds them back from their 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup with the Montreal Canadiens.

Matt Murray had a down year with a 2.87 goals against average and an .899 save percentage in 38 games played– his worst goals against average since he had a 2.92 GAA in 49 games in 2017-18 and his worst-career save percentage in a season. Murray finished the shortened season with a 20-11-5 record and one shutout in 38 starts.

Backup netminder, Tristan Jarry, went 20-12-1 in 33 games played (31 starts) and had a 2.43 GAA, as well as a .921 SV% and three shutouts.

Murray’s leash through the exhibition games should be a short one, despite his career 2.16 GAA and .921 SV% in 48 Stanley Cup Playoff games. His goals against average reached a career-low 1.70 in 11 games en route to Pittsburgh’s Cup win in 2017, but rose to a 2.43 in 2018 (12 games) and a 3.02 in 2019 (four games) as the Penguins were swept by the New York Islanders in last year’s First Round.

It’s not that he can’t bounce back, but rather that Sullivan should ride the hotter goaltender and force a little healthy competition if it yields the best in Murray’s game. If not, it’ll either be sink or swim with Jarry in the crease.

At the other end of the rink, the Montreal Canadiens went .500 this season and were mired in 12th place in the Eastern Conference at the stoppage with what looked like little hope for a late season surge into the postseason, despite leading scorer, Tomas Tatar (22-39–61 totals in 68 games played) and starting goaltender, Carey Price’s best efforts.

Phillip Danault had the second-most points on the Habs roster this season with 13 goals and 34 assists (47 points) in 71 games played, while Max Domi was third in scoring on the team with 44 points in 71 games.

Price led Montreal in net with a 27-25-6 record in 58 games played (58 starts), a 2.79 GAA, a .909 SV% and four shutouts this season. Since his 2.23 GAA and .923 SV% in 62 games in 2016-17, Price has not had a goals against average below 2.30 or a save percentage better than .920. He had a 3.11 GAA and a .900 SV% in 49 games in 2017-18, as well as a 2.49 GAA and a .918 SV% in 66 games last season.

As he approaches his mid-30s and the league shifts more and more towards tandem goaltending, Price shouldn’t be playing more than 50 games in a regular season, but the Canadiens struggled with finding a backup this season.

Charlie Lindgren went 2-4-0 in six games (six starts) and had a 3.33 GAA, as well as an .888 SV%. Meanwhile, Cayden Primeau went 1-1-0 in two games (both starts) and had a 2.52 GAA and a .931 SV%.

Keith Kinkaid also made an appearance with six games played (five starts), a 1-1-3 record, a 4.24 GAA and an .875 SV%.

Claude Julien has over 400 regular season wins as the head coach of the Boston Bruins and won the Cup with the B’s in 2011, but that was nine years ago and he’s three full seasons into his second stint behind the bench as head coach of the Canadiens.

His teams aren’t known for keeling over and being swept out of the playoffs, so they’ll likely be able to win one as Montreal scratches and claws their way to victory in classic Julien-style blue-collar work ethic fashion, but can he get it done against Pittsburgh in today’s NHL?

Especially when falling behind the eight ball is even more significant in a best-of-five series than it is in a best-of-seven.

Price might be fresh, but Pittsburgh’s got an offense and a defense. Plus the Penguins did win two out of their three regular season matchups and Crosby and Malkin are ready to make yet another postseason appearance– regardless of how far things will actually go.

It’s not out of the question that the Habs will be able to steal a game, but the Penguins should have this series wrapped up in four games and punch their ticket to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Regular season outcomes:

4-1 MTL at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 10th, 3-2 F/OT PIT at Bell Centre on Jan. 4th, 4-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 14th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 MTL @ PIT in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/3- Game 2 MTL @ PIT in Toronto 8 PM ET NBCSN, SN, TVAS

8/5- Game 3 PIT @ MTL in Toronto 8 PM ET NBCSN, SN, TVAS

8/7- Game 4 PIT @ MTL in Toronto*

8/8- Game 5 MTL @ PIT in Toronto*

*If necessary

(6) Carolina Hurricanes (38-25-5, 81 points) vs (11) New York Rangers (37-28-5, 79 points)

Carolina: 68 games played, .596 points percentage, 27 regulation wins

N.Y. Rangers: 70 games played, .564 points percentage, 31 regulation wins

Rod Brind’Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes have their work cut out for them in what just might be the only series that would be an upset if the higher seed wins. The Hurricanes lost all four regular season matchups against the Rangers, despite Sebastian Aho’s team-leading 66 points in 68 games on the season.

Aho set a new career-high in goals (38) and had a pair of goals against New York this season, but fell shy of establishing a new career-high in points after putting up 83 points in 82 games last season. Of course, a pandemic shortened regular season will have something to do with that.

Regardless, he was on pace for about 80 points at the time the NHL season was paused.

Teuvo Teravainen continued to show that he’s one of the most consistent performers in the league with a respectable 48 assists and 63 points in 68 games played as one of Carolina’s more “veteran” players, despite only being 25-years-old.

Meanwhile, Andrei Svechnikov scored two lacrosse goals this season and managed to improve on all fronts from his rookie season (20-17–37 totals in 82 games last season) with 24 goals and 37 assists (61 points) in 68 games in 2019-20. He was on pace for almost 30 goals and around 73 points in his sophomore season had the pandemic not called it short.

In goal, David Ayres led the way with– just kidding– Petr Mrazek went 21-16-2 in 40 games this season (38 starts) and had a 2.69 GAA, as well as a .905 SV% and three shutouts. Not great, but not the worst entering the Qualifiers.

He’ll have to do much better than his 2.73 GAA and .894 SV% in 11 games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs if he has any hopes of catapulting his team over the Rangers and backstopping them to a deep playoff run like last year.

That said, Curtis McElhinney was the one that replaced him against the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final after Mrazek allowed ten goals against in the series, compared to McElhinney’s five.

The good news for the Hurricanes, however, is that McElhinney’s numbers have been way off the mark this season and he’s the current backup for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Plus James Reimer exists in Carolina.

Reimer went 14-6-2 in 25 games for the Canes this season and had a 2.66 GAA, as well as a .914 SV% and three shutouts– so basically he’s the same as Mrazek, only Reimer’s looking for a bigger redemption arc in the postseason than being remembered as the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender in Boston’s epic, 5-4, overtime comeback in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

That wasn’t even Reimer’s last appearance in the playoffs, however, as he had a brief stint (29 minutes) with the San Jose Sharks en route to their 2016 Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Brind’Amour might be wise to use his best defensive game and start Reimer in Game 1 against the Rangers, except Mrazek had an .861 SV% against New York in three games this season, while Reimer had a .792 SV%.

Advantage… …Mrazek? But on a short leash?

On the other hand, the New York Rangers enter their Qualifier matchup with the Hurricanes two points behind Carolina in the season standings and three spots behind them in the Metropolitan Division standings that are virtually obsolete this postseason.

The Hurricanes had 81 points. The Rangers had 79 points. First place through seventh place in the division was separated by 11 points at the time of the stoppage.

And at that point, 2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist, Artemi Panarin, had already amassed 32-63–95 totals in 69 games for New York.

He had nine points (three goals, six assists) against the Hurricanes this season, while Mika Zibanejad sat 20 points behind Panarin in team scoring with 41 goals and 34 assists (75 points) in 57 games– including four goals and three assists against Carolina this season.

Ryan Strome carried third place honors for the Rangers in scoring this season with 18-41–59 totals in 70 games.

Rangers head coach, David Quinn, also doesn’t have an easy decision to make with his goaltenders heading to Toronto for their series against Carolina.

Henrik Lundqvist made three starts against the Canes and went 3-0-0, while stopping 125 shots out of 132 shots against (.947 SV%) in that span.

Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves on 29 shots against (.931 SV%) in his one start and one win against Carolina this season.

Lundqvist went 10-12-3 on the season in 30 games played (26 starts) with a 3.16 GAA, a .905 SV% and one shutout.

Shesterkin went 10-2-0 in 12 games played (12 starts) and had a 2.52 GAA, as well as a .932 SV%.

Oh yeah, and Alexandar Georgiev went 17-14-2 in 34 games (32 starts) while putting up a 3.04 GAA, a .910 SV% and two shutouts.

One thing is clearer now more than ever before– “King Henrik” is no longer king in “The Big Apple”.

Shesterkin should receive the nod for the playoffs, but this is just the Qualifier. It technically doesn’t count unless you win three out of the next possible five games.

In that case, Quinn could rely on Lundqvist to get the job done, then give Shesterkin his first real taste of the NHL’s toughest job– being a goaltender in the playoffs– since Lundqvist has a history for seemingly always having Carolina’s number when it matters most for the Hurricanes.

Regardless of who’s in net, New York holds all the advantages coming into this series.

The Rangers scored 17 goals for against Hurricanes and allowed nine goals against over their four games against one another.

Carolina threw the kitchen sink at New York on net– totaling 161 shots on goal in their four regular season matchups with the Blue Shirts– but Lundqvist was the key difference maker.

That said, the Hurricanes knocked off the then defending Cup champion Washington Capitals in seven games in last year’s First Round.

But can Brind’Amour motivate his players enough to get the job done more efficiently when the series is only a best-of-five instead of having the luxury to drag things out all seven games like they did against the Caps?

And with back-to-back games incorporated in the schedule, conditions are clearly unfavorable for the Hurricanes in their David and Goliath matchup (again, despite being the higher seed).

One thing that works in their favor? There’s no travel outside the bubble to and from the games, so that’s a plus.

Knowing how The Hockey Gods work, it’d be foolish not to believe this series won’t go all five games just because. Either that or Carolina will pull off the three-game sweep of the Rangers after losing every single regular season game against New York in 2019-20.

Flip a coin and that’s your winner– this series might just be a lot closer and more intense than you think.

Rangers in five, but don’t be surprised if/when Carolina defeats them.

Sit back and enjoy.

Regular season outcomes:

4-2 NYR at PNC Arena on Nov. 7th, 3-2 NYR at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27th, 5-3 NYR at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 27th, 5-2 NYR at PNC Arena on Feb. 21st

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 NYR @ CAR in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS

8/3- Game 2 NYR @ CAR in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS

8/4- Game 3 CAR @ NYR in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

8/6- Game 4 CAR @ NYR in Toronto*

8/8- Game 5 NYR @ CAR in Toronto*

*If necessary

(7) New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points) vs (10) Florida Panthers (35-26-8, 78 points)

N.Y. Islanders: 68 games played, .588 points percentage, 24 regulation wins

Florida: 69 games played, .565 points percentage, 30 regulation wins

Barry Trotz is still coaching the trap in today’s NHL, which, honestly, you have to hand it to him. His defense first mindset has turned the New York Islanders into a playoff contender since his arrival last season.

The only bad thing that’s come with Trotz’s arrival and John Tavares’ departure– a lack of goal scoring.

It’s no secret that to win games, your team must score more goals than the other team, whether it’s a, 10-9, high-scoring victory or a, 1-0, shutout.

Unfortunately for Trotz, the Isles ranked ninth in fewest goals for this season with 192, which is the worst among all the Qualifier team. Yes, even Montreal and Chicago each had 212 goals for this season, despite their minus-6 and minus-9 goal differentials, respectively.

At least the Islanders only allowed one more goal than they scored in the pandemic shortened regular season.

Anyway, Mathew Barzal led the charge for New York this season with 19-41–60 totals in 68 games played, while Brock Nelson (54 points in 68 games) and Anders Lee (43 points in 68 games) followed suit.

Barzal was on pace for 23 goals and 72 points this season, which would’ve been a career-high in goals in a season for the young forward only having just completed his third full season. Nevertheless, scoring at least 60 points in three consecutive seasons is respectable.

Nelson scored 26 goals this season, which marked back to back seasons of at least 20 goals for the 28-year-old. He was on pace for 31 goals in what was already a career-season in the making.

Lee was on pace for 52 points after putting up 20-23–43 totals in 68 games, which would have given him four consecutive seasons of 50-plus points.

But it’s not all about what would’ve been for the Islanders, because the future is here in goaltender Ilya Sorokin– oh wait, he can’t play in the 2020 postseason due to the NHL’s Return to Play rulings, which is fine– just means that next year’s looking good for the Isles.

In net, Semyon Varlamov amassed a 19-14-6 record in 45 games played (39 starts) with a 2.62 GAA and a .914 SV%, as well as two shutouts to go with it.

Ideally, you’d like a starting goaltender in the NHL to be closer to 2.50, maybe even 2.30 in goals against average and around a .920 in save percentage, but we addressed some of New York’s shortcomings this season– a lack of offense and injuries on defense with Adam Pelech limited to 38 games.

Thomas Greiss had a 16-9-4 record in 31 games (29 starts) with a 2.74 GAA and a .913 SV% in the process.

It’s likely his last season on Long Island/in Brooklyn with Sorokin signed for the next couple of seasons, so if he sees any ice time in the series, he’ll have to be better in order to prove his next payday at the expense of another team via free agency in November.

New York brought in Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a conditional 2020 1st round pick (can become a 2021 1st round pick if the Islanders lose in the Qualifier and win the 1st overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft–a.k.a. top-3 lottery protected), a 2020 2nd round pick and a conditional 2022 3rd round pick (if New York wins the Cup in 2020), then signed Pageau to a six-year extension worth $5.000 million per season.

Though it was all too short to effectively judge Pageau in an Islanders sweater, it’s worth noting he scored two goals in seven games so far. That’s it.

A boost for the third line, sure, but his effectiveness in a new surrounding remains to be seen, which could be a key to New York defeating the Florida Panthers who lack an important figure in Vincent Trocheck since trading him to the Carolina Hurricanes for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen at the deadline on Feb. 24th.

Speaking of the Panthers, Florida was led by Jonathan Huberdeau in scoring this season with 23 goals and 55 assists (78 points) in 69 games this season.

Aleksander Barkov had his fifth consecutive 20-goal season– one season removed from his career-high 35 goals (and 96 points!) last season– and was on pace for 25 tallies this season at the stoppage.

And bringing up the rear in Florida’s top-three scorers this season was Mike Hoffman with 29 goals and 30 assists (59 points) in 69 games. Hoffman finished one goal shy of back to back 30-goal seasons and was on pace to match his career-high 70 points in a season had the regular season been uninterrupted.

In goal, Sergei Bobrovsky probably wishes he could ask for a mulligan this season after going 23-19-6 in 50 games played (49 starts) and amassing a 3.23 GAA, as well as a .900 SV% and one shutout.

Yes, you read that right– one shutout this season. After leading the league with nine shutouts last season, Bobrovsky was far beyond a disappointment in his first year of a seven-year, $70 million contract.

Meanwhile, Sam Montembeault (5-5-1) started the season as Florida’s backup, but things took a turn after his 3.34 GAA and .890 SV% in 14 games played (nine starts) were no better than Bobrovsky’s career-worst season as a starter.

Alas, Chris Driedger was called up from the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL) and put up a 7-2-1 record in 12 games played with a 2.05 GAA, a .938 SV% and one shutout in that span.

The Islanders beat the Panthers in all three regular season matchups this season, but New York has yet to face Driedger.

A word to the wise for Florida’s head coach, Joel Quenneville– what more could you lose by starting Driedger in Game 1?

Bobrovsky hasn’t had the form all season and isn’t going into the playoffs as your surefire starter– $10.000 million cap hit or not. Pray he returns to his two-time Vezina Trophy winning ability in time for 2020-21, but for now he hasn’t earned starter duties and your main focus is on winning three games, let alone going for the Cup with whatever you have for a roster.

The Islanders scored eight goals in their three games against the Panthers this season. They allowed four goals against, while Florida– to their credit– forced New York to a shootout in their first meeting back on Oct. 12th.

New York had 94 total shots on goal against Florida this season.

The Panthers had 108 shots against the Islanders.

It should be a close battle with each team ravaged in some manner– whether by injuries that plagued them all season or lackluster goaltending, neither club is exactly turning heads out there.

The Panthers lost in six games to the Islanders in the 2016 First Round, but this time around it’s a best of five.

New York should win in four games as Trotz has more recent playoff success and the more recent playoff experienced roster to go off of than, yes, Quenneville’s three Stanley Cup Rings from the last ten years.

It’s not that Quenneville can’t pull off the upset, but rather that the Panthers aren’t ready to make a dent in the postseason picture without all the necessary pieces.

The good news for them, at least, is they have a tried and true coach to guide them through what for now will be some growing pains.

Unless 20-goal scorer Noel Acciari pockets a hat trick in three straight games, which sounds quite plausible these days, so who knows!?

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 F/SO NYI at NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 12th, 2-1 NYI at Barclays Center on Nov. 9th, 3-1 NYI at BB&T Center on Dec. 12th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 FLA @ NYI in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN1, TVAS

8/4- Game 2 FLA @ NYI in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/5- Game 3 NYI @ FLA in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/7- Game 4 NYI @ FLA in Toronto*

8/9- Game 5 FLA @ NYI in Toronto*

*If necessary

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs (36-25-9, 81 points) vs (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15, 81 points)

Toronto: 70 games played, .579 points percentage, 28 regulation wins

Columbus: 70 games played, .579 points percentage, 25 regulation wins

The Toronto Maple Leafs have home ice advantage and– well, technically, the Qualifier isn’t considered part of the playoffs and there’s a pandemic going on, so no fans are allowed inside the bubble.

But hey, at least there’s hockey in Canadian New York City, so we’ll take it!

The Leafs were led by Auston Matthews in scoring this season as the 22-year-old center finished third in the NHL in goals with 47 of them in 70 games played. He had 80 points overall, which established career-highs in both goals and points in his fourth NHL season– and fourth consecutive season with at least 30 goals.

Oh and for the second time in his young career, Matthews reached the 40-goal plateau and was on the cusp of 50 had it not been for the ongoing pandemic cutting things short. He was on pace for 55 goals at the stoppage.

Mitchell Marner was second on the Leafs roster in scoring with 16-51–67 totals in 59 games played– surpassing the 50-assist plateau for the second straight season and further proving his vital role as a playmaker on the roster.

Meanwhile, John Tavares had 26 goals and 34 assists (60 points) in 63 games, which was down from his 47-41–88 totals last season, but then again, he was on pace for 78 points this season had the regular season seen its proper conclusion, so really he wasn’t all that far off from a typical Tavares year.

As it is, the only time Tavares has ever had less than 50 points in a season was in the lockout shortened, 48-game, 2012-13 season, in which he had 47 points in all 48 games.

Yeah, he’s pretty good.

In the crease, the Maple Leafs were led by Frederik Anderson (29-13-7 record in 52 games played, 2.85 GAA, .909 SV%, three shutouts), but hold the phone! What’s this? Toronto acquired a legitimate backup netminder during the season!?!

That’s right, Jack Campbell (3-2-1 in six games with Toronto, six starts, 2.63 GAA, .915 SV% in that span) is a Maple Leaf and– heaven forbid– is more than capable of bailing out Toronto if things get dire with Andersen.

Oh and Sheldon Keefe is in charge behind the bench.

Plus there’s a wild card this year for Toronto that the rest of the league has yet to see– Nick Robertson. You know, the forward that had 55-31–88 totals in 46 games with the Peterborough Petes (OHL) this season and brings both even more speed and skill to the Maple Leafs lineup.

At the other side of the rink, the Columbus Blue Jackets were battered all season and had a trio of goaltenders at one point as a result, yet somehow, here they are to the surprise of all the experts that had them pegged for 8th place in the Metropolitan Division heading into the 2019-20 season after losing Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency.

It’s all just part of the plan.

Many had them out against the Lightning last year and, well, the Blue Jackets brought the thunder in that series.

Unfortunately for CBJ fans, they couldn’t bring the cannon through customs, but they were able to bring their leading scorer, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and his 18-31–49 totals in 70 games this season.

Gustav Nyquist had a respectable 42-point season (15 goals, 27 assists) in 70 games with Columbus after being brought in via free agency, while Zach Werenski was third on the team in scoring with 20 goals and 21 assists (41 points) from the blue line in 63 games.

Columbus has the better defense on paper, but Toronto’s offense has more than enough firepower to outmatch the Blue Jackets’ best efforts.

In goal, however, emerged the rise of a new king (but not of rock)– Elvis Merzlikins. Though Joonas Korpisalo (19-12-5, 2.60 GAA, .911 SV%, two shutouts) played in more games (37 played, 35 starts) than Merzlikins, No. 90 in red, white and blue had the better numbers with a 13-9-8 record in 33 games played (31 starts), as well as a 2.35 GAA, a .923 SV% and five shutouts.

It’s the dawn of a new age in Columbus as a hot, young, goaltending tandem has arrived with the departure of Bobrovsky.

It’ll be Merzlikins’ biggest test, but the Blue Jackets just might be a lot better off now more than ever riding the hot goaltender.

Plus they struck down the dragon last spring and made it out of the First Round for the first time in franchise history, so now anything’s possible moving forward.

On paper this is the most even matchup as both teams finished with 81 points, had 70 games played and went won one out of the two games they played against one another before the pandemic shortened the regular season, but it’s hard to ignore one thing– Tortorella.

Once more Tortorella is a Jack Adams Award finalist and, oh yeah, he’s kind of responsible for figuring out how to not only beat, but sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 First Round– you know, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners.

But a newcomer has entered the chat and that’s Keefe. He led the Toronto Marlies (AHL) to the 2018 Calder Cup championship and many of the players in the Leafs system have encountered his touch in recent years.

Is Keefe the answer to Toronto’s prayers or will yet another team that’s come into the league since their last Cup in 1967 raise Lord Stanley’s mug over their heads while the Maple Leafs are off somewhere preparing for next season?

The good news, this isn’t technically the playoffs yet, so that means Toronto’s got a better chance off the bat.

There’s not as much of a distraction surrounding their opponent (*ahem* for once, it’s not Boston!– yet, anyway), let alone the “hasn’t made it out of the First Round since before the 2004-05 season-long lockout” specter that shadows the Leafs.

The bad news, they’re the Maple Leafs. Of course only something like a pandemic would throw off any momentum they had going into a possible playoff run, etc.

Imagine if the Chicago Cubs didn’t win in 2016, or the Boston Red Sox didn’t win in 2004– yeah, that’s how most Toronto fans feel day-in and day-out– no matter how confident– no matter how much belief they have in the team.

There’s always that chance that something something goes wrong and the curse or whatever remains hanging over the Maple Leafs dressing room and front office.

Leafs in five, then we’ll see what happens, but Tortorella’s teams aren’t easy to knock off their game. This alone might be Toronto’s greatest test in the Matthews, Marner and Co. Era.

Mike Babcock’s gone. They’re playing the “new age” game. Can they get it done?

Regular season outcomes:

4-1 TOR at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 4th, 4-3 F/OT CBJ at Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 21st

Schedule:

8/2- Game 1 CBJ @ TOR 8 PM ET on NHLN, SN, TVAS

8/4- Game 2 CBJ @ TOR 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/6- Game 3 TOR @ CBJ in Toronto TBD

8/7- Game 4 TOR @ CBJ in Toronto*

8/9- Game 5 CBJ @ TOR*

*If necessary


2020 Eastern Conference Round Robin Action

Here’s a quick glance at the Round Robin schedule for the top-four Eastern Conference teams if you’re not at all interested in the Qualifiers for some reason.

Again, all games in the Eastern Conference are in Toronto this year and all times Eastern.

Boston Bruins

44-14-12, 100 points, 70 GP, .714 PTS%, 38 RW

Aug. 2nd vs. PHI in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

Aug. 5th vs. TBL in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

Aug. 9th @ WSH in Toronto, TBD

Tampa Bay Lightning

43-21-6, 92 points, 70 GP, .657 PTS%, 35 RW

Aug. 3rd vs. WSH in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS

Aug. 5th @ BOS in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

Aug. 8th vs. PHI in Toronto, TBD

Washington Capitals

41-20-8, 90 points, 69 GP, .652 PTS%, 31 RW

Aug. 3rd @TBL in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS

Aug. 6th @ PHI in Toronto, TBD

Aug. 9th vs. BOS in Toronto, TBD

Philadelphia Flyers

41-21-7, 89 points, 69 GP, .645 PTS%, 31 RW

Aug. 2nd @ BOS in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

Aug. 6th vs. WSH in Toronto, TBD

Aug. 8th @ TBL in Toronto, TBD

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.

2019-20 NHL Mascot Power Rankings

Back by popular demand– though a few months later than last season– it’s once again time to rank the NHL mascots.

In January 2017, DTFR began a new tradition of giving props for great efforts made in the community, laughs shared, smiles brought to everyone’s faces and (most importantly) character displayed by every mascot in the National Hockey League.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

31) New York Rangers 31st in 2018-19, 30th in 2017-18

The Rangers still don’t have a mascot, which in today’s day and age is a crime. Just march Brian Leetch around Madison Square Garden once in a while or something. Maybe even let Henrik Lundqvist become the team’s first mascot once he retires.

30) Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings) 30th in 2018-19, 26th in 2017-18

It’s a yearly tradition at this point to mention how awesome any Al the Octopus plush toy is and that it’s a shame the Red Wings never made Al the Octopus into a real thing instead of just a prop that ended up being sold for $7,700 at an auction in 2017 after Joe Louis Arena was closed and Detroit moved into their current home, Little Caesars Arena.

29) Spartacat (Ottawa Senators) 21st in 2018-19, 9th in 2017-18

Just like the Senators, Spartacat has fallen on hard times and really needs someone to love him. Unfortunately for Spartacat, he probably needs a haircut first or at least that rebrand to finally come around and give Ottawa a fresh look all-around (with new jerseys, new logos and new players).

28) Thunderbug (Tampa Bay Lightning) 18th in 2018-19, 15th in 2017-18

Being as cute as a bug no longer cuts it when you have Gritty running around causing chaos, plus other mascots really drumming up their personality bits. Perhaps Thunderbug has gotten too casual in recent years and that’s the reason why the Lightning haven’t won the Cup since 2004.

27) Nordy (Minnesota Wild) 28th in 2018-19, 24th in 2017-18

Like Minnesota sports as a whole, Nordy is just comfortable where he’s at. Nobody’s really sure whether he’s a fox, a wolf or some hybrid northern animal native to the wild, but the Wild’s mascot might also be on General Manager, Bill Guerin’s, list of assets to move at this year’s trade deadline if he’s not careful.

26) Wild Wing (Anaheim Ducks) 17th in 2018-19, 3rd in 2017-18

Wild Wing would be the perfect mascot for a roller hockey team, which is fitting for his location in southern California– where you could play roller hockey year-round. What might be a better option for the Ducks, however, would be to have legendary surfer, Rob Machado, make more appearances at Honda Center in an Anaheim sweater.

25) Sparky the Dragon (New York Islanders) 29th in 2018-19, 25th in 2017-18

With a new arena in Belmont Park looming, one would think the Islanders would make the natural switch to a horse-based mascot because, you know, horse racing and stuff. Either that or just give Sparky the Dragon a more fish-based appearance. Just add a few cuddly scales or perhaps give him a fishing rod that can also double as a hockey stick. Props go a long way at improving ratings.

24) Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks) 20th in 2018-19, 14th in 2017-18

Something about Tommy Hawk just feels off these days. Perhaps his contract will be traded in the offseason too while the Blackhawks adjust from their decade of dominance in the early 2010s to life in the 2020s.

23) Stanley C. Panther/Viktor E. Ratt (Florida Panthers) 25th in 2018-19, 20th in 2017-18

The Panthers have what some might call the “Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly of mascots”. Sure their early works were great, but their recent comedy has shown their age. Florida should put all of their focus in on one or the other– or at least give Olli Jokinen a proper display case inside BB&T Center.

22) Hunter (Edmonton Oilers) 26th in 2018-19, 23rd in 2017-18

Hunter’s redeeming quality this year is the new alternate threads for the Oilers. Edmonton’s new third sweaters help take away the scary qualities of this lovable lynx if you could only see through his otherwise terror inducing mane.

21) Howler (Arizona Coyotes) 27th in 2018-19, 21st in 2017-18

The Coyotes are embracing their kachina sweaters like never before and we can only hope that Howler will have to wear them full-time in the near future. If not, he’ll continue to be average in ranking. Your move, Arizona.

20) Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche) 22nd in 2018-19, 22nd in 2017-18

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bernie the St. Bernard, since St. Bernard dogs are usually the go-to rescue animals in the event of an avalanche in the real world, but it’s just a little too on the nose compared to the Yeti that once walked the corridors of Pepsi Center.

It was as close to a Sasquatch as you’d see in an NHL arena– until Seattle joins the fray in 2021, that is (hopefully they take our suggestion for a mascot). So yeah… the Avalanche have an average mascot.

19) Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens) 10th in 2018-19, 6th in 2017-18

Look, there’s nothing bad about Youppi!, but has anyone heard from him lately? I mean, is everything ok? First the Tampa Bay Rays jettison their plans for a potential split-season between St. Petersburg and Montreal, then the Canadiens just seem to have really overlooked how much he means to the mascot world lately.

Fear not, this may be a down year in the rankings, but Youppi! should bounce back once the Expos return from their quick run to get bread and milk.

18) Bailey (Los Angeles Kings) 3rd in 2018-19, 1st in 2017-18

Cranky mascots on Twitter is getting kind of old. We’re just putting Bailey here so he can tweet at us and change our minds.

17) Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames) 23rd in 2018-19, 18th in 2017-18

Put a shirt on for heaven’s sake. It’s winter! Canadians, man. They’re an interesting breed.

16) Chance (Vegas Golden Knights) 9th in 2018-19, 31st* in 2017-18

We gave Chance a chance, but now the Golden Knights’ mascot just seems average, if not just old news thanks to something we call “the Gritty Factor” in the industry. A good performance at the 2020 NHL Mascot Showdown could boost his ranking.

15) Mick E. Moose (Winnipeg Jets) 16th in 2018-19, 11th in 2017-18

Mick E. Moose looked stunning in Winnipeg’s 2019 Heritage Classic sweater, but unfortunately for the Jets mascot, there’s not much else going for him these days. Maybe next year.

14) Gnash (Nashville Predators) 19th in 2018-19, 17th in 2017-18

Gnash gets some bonus points for Nashville’s 2020 Winter Classic sweater, but he hasn’t done anything out of this world lately to try to capture a few more spots.

13) Slapshot (Washington Capitals) 5th in 2018-19, 4th in 2017-18

Once a rising star in the mascot ranking world, Slapshot lost a little of his edge while the Capitals roll right along with the Metropolitan Division lead. Another Stanley Cup Final run could be the cure for his ails.

12) Victor E. Green (Dallas Stars) 12th in 2018-19, 19th in 2017-18

We’re over the moon for this huggable alien in his Stars 2020 Winter Classic threads. Victor E. Green’s also still got those cute hockey stick ears going for him, but could use another viral video or two to really move him up the ranks. Anyone know if he’s on TikTok?

11) Stinger (Columbus Blue Jackets) 15th in 2018-19, 27th in 2017-18

Stinger’s quips with Greg Wyshynski are amusing and have us concerned about just how sentient all NHL mascots have become in today’s world. We’d hate for him to sting us next. The Blue Jackets, in the meantime, are slowly being forgiven over the years for the mistake that was Boomer. Meanwhile, Elvis Merzlikins’ post-win celebrations might merit their own felt-based mascot sometime soon.

10) Louie (St. Louis Blues) 14th in 2018-19, 12th in 2017-18

The Blues win one Cup in 52 years and everyone loses their minds except one being– Louie. Louie will never give you up. He’s never going to let you down (anymore). He’s never going to run around and desert you. Also, he’s just really nice, so let’s reward him with Top-10 status this season.

9) Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes) 24th in 2018-19, 28th in 2017-18

Our biggest improvement this season belongs to none other than Stormy. It may or may not have something to do with him rocking Hartford Whalers gear on Whalers Night for the past two seasons, but the Hurricanes mascot is looking fine as ever in every thread that covers that hog body.

Plus we’ll give bonus points for Hamilton the Pig and free street-cred to the wonderful fans that own and care for Hamilton.

8) Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins) 8th in 2018-19, 5th in 2017-18

The Bruins almost saw Blades fall in this year’s rankings if it weren’t for how well he’s able to pull off that “B” on their new alternate jerseys. It seems fitting that Blades wears the first letter of his name big and bright on his jersey once in a while. Now if only we could get him to do a backflip or something.

7) Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs) 11th in 2018-19, 13th in 2017-18

The Maple Leafs mascot is in the Top-10 for the first time in our ranking and he is looking classier than ever before for some reason. Did someone say “everything old is new again”? Because he’s old, but never going out of style. Alexa, play “Style” by Taylor Swift while we jam with Carlton the Bear and his friends.

6) Fin (Vancouver Canucks) 7th in 2018-19, 10th in 2017-18

Slow but steady has been the progress of the Canucks over the last few years that this season they might make the playoffs and next season Fin just might make the Top-5 in our mascot ranking. Unfortunately for Vancouver’s favorite orca, he’s just one spot shy of being a certified superstar in the making.

5) Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers) 4th in 2018-19, 29th* in 2017-18 (pre-Gritty)

We swear we didn’t take the easy way out by picking Gritty as this year’s top 5th place mascot, but would you honestly blame us if we did? We are all gritizens these days anyway and Gritty rules us all. It certainly helps that the Flyers introduced their “Disassembly Room” and continue to go all-in on the chaos that Gritty brings everywhere he goes.

Plus, look at all the props, costumes and sheer grit that Philly’s orange monster has for each and every event, game and everything in between.

(We also wrote this before learning of the current allegations against Philadelphia’s beloved orange ball of fur.)

4) Iceburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins) 1st in 2018-19, 7th in 2017-18

Iceburgh won top-dog– er, penguin– in last season’s mascot ranking, but things have cooled off for a bit while the Penguins mascot comes down from the many highs of being the No. 1 mascot. He’s ready to settle down and chill in his nest for a while, then go right back for the krill next year.

3) Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres) 6th in 2018-19, 8th in 2017-18 

Just look at how phenomenal the Sabres’ 50th anniversary sweaters are, then look how much they bring out all the best qualities in Sabretooth to the forefront of this rising mascot in the ranking.

Sabretooth’s a shoe-in for Runner-Up or First Place next season when Buffalo goes back to royal blue as their primary color. The question is, will Sabretooth’s stripes change accordingly?

2) S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks) 2nd in 2018-19, 2nd in 2017-18

For the third year in-a-row, S.J. Sharkie came in 2nd in our ranking. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that we think Sharkie won’t be able to win this competition like how the Sharks always find a way to disappoint their fans before (or during) the Final.

One of these years, San Jose. One of these years. Unfortunately it won’t be this year, as the Sharks are likely to miss the postseason and don’t even have their first round pick.

1) N.J. Devil (New Jersey Devils) 13th in 2018-19, 16th in 2017-18

What’s hotter than hell these days? The N.J. Devil himself.

Seriously, just look at this gorgeous mascot and you too will start questioning if you’re really that attracted to his facial hair or the fact that this guy can bench more than your cousin Tony. New Jersey, your next reason to shutdown your beaches is right in front of you and it looks way hotter.

Also, has there ever been a more relatable mascot that loves pizza just like us?


In all seriousness though, all of the league’s mascots do a great job of being an entertaining part of the game, as well as wonderful ambassadors for spreading kindness and cheer in their community.

Hats off to the people living inside the sweaty costumes and the marketing teams behind them.

Bergeron’s hat trick, Marchand and Pastrnak’s five-point games, lead Bruins over Rangers, 7-4

Patrice Bergeron (3-0–3 totals) scored a hat trick and his linemates, Brad Marchand (2-3–5) and David Pastrnak (0-5–5) each had five-point nights as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 7-4, Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (3-1-1 record, 2.59 goals against average, .919 save percentage in five games played) made 25 saves on 29 shots against (.862 SV%) in the win for the B’s.

Henrik Lundqvist (2-3-0, 3.58 GAA, .906 SV% in six games played) stopped 27 out of 31 shots faced (.871 SV%) in 40 minutes played prior to being replaced before the third period by Alexandar Georgiev (1-2-1, 2.70 GAA, .923 SV% in four games played) for the final frame.

Georgiev turned aside nine out of the 11 shots he faced for an .818 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 8-1-2 (18 points) on the season and remained in command of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, meanwhile, New York remained stagnant in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division with a 3-5-1 record (seven points).

For the 11th time this season, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were out of commission due to injuries. Miller should return to full practice later this week, however, while Moore is still on track for a return in mid-November.

David Krejci (upper body) missed his 4th consecutive game, but is hopeful to return Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

Karson Kuhlman (fractured right tibia) is still out and was placed on the injured reserve as he’ll be sidelined for at least four weeks.

Meanwhile, Joakim Nordstrom (infection) and Chris Wagner (foot) were new additions to Boston’s injury list Sunday night as both players took part in Saturday night’s, 3-0, shutout win over the St. Louis Blues, but were not well enough to go in New York on Sunday.

Nordstrom’s been battling some lingering issues, while Wagner blocked a shot against the Blues and went down the tunnel briefly before returning moments later on Saturday.

As a result of the mountain of injuries for the Bruins, Peter Cehlarik was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on emergency basis and made his 2019-20 season debut for Boston against the Rangers.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Cehlarik on the fourth line left wing and reintroduced David Backes on the right wing of the fourth line, leaving Steven Kampfer as the only healthy scratch for Boston.

Jesper Fast (personal reasons) was a healthy scratch for New York on Sunday.

Nearly 30 seconds into the game, Rangers defender, Brady Skjei tripped up Bruins alternate captain, Patrice Bergeron, and was sent to the penalty box for a minor infraction.

Boston went to the power play 35 seconds into the first period, but couldn’t muster much of anything on the skater advantage and instead took a penalty of their own shortly after New York killed off Skjei’s minor.

Cehlarik was called for hooking Libor Hajek at 2:55 of the first period and the Rangers went on their first power play of the night.

It didn’t work.

Midway through the opening frame, however, Brendan Smith let go of a shot from just past the blue line that deflected off of Torey Krug in front of his own goaltender.

Micheal Haley (1) pounced on the rebound to give the Rangers the, 1-0, lead with his first goal of the season at 10:19.

Smith (3) and Lias Andersson (1) notched the assists as New York was the first to get on the scoreboard and carried their one-goal lead into the first intermission– even after botching another power play at 12:17, after Marchand cut a rut to the sin bin for high sticking Rangers blue liner, Jacob Trouba.

After one period, New York led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite being outshot, 10-7, by Boston.

Both teams were pretty even in the statistical categories unrelated to shots on net and goals as the Blue Shirts led in blocked shots (9-6), giveaways (12-4) and hits (12-6) and the B’s led in takeaways (1-0) and faceoff win percentage (60-40).

The Rangers were 0/2 on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the second period.

It didn’t take long for Boston to tie things up in the middle frame as Bergeron (3) scored his first goal of the night 11 seconds into the second period.

Pastrnak crashed the net and was tripped by a New York defender into Lundqvist– knocking the Rangers netminder to the ice and allowing for Bergeron to swoop in and bury the rebound.

Officials reviewed the play and determined that the call on the ice stood– it was indeed a good goal, as the play was deemed a “continuous motion” cause by New York’s own volition.

Pastrnak (8) and Marchand (11) tabbed the assists and the game was tied, 1-1.

Less than a minute later– 57 seconds, to be exact– Marchand (6) received a pass from Pastrnak, held onto the puck as he entered the low slot, deked Lundqvist off his rocker and scored to make it, 2-1, Boston at 1:08 of the second period.

Pastrnak (9) picked up his second assist of the night on the goal and Brandon Carlo (2) recorded the secondary assist– his first of two in the game on Sunday night.

About 30 seconds later, Kaapo Kakko caught Charlie McAvoy with a high stick and was sent to the box at 1:36.

Boston didn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Midway through the period, Charlie Coyle (1) scored his first goal of the season after receiving a tape-to-tape pass from McAvoy after the Bruins defender wrapped around the net.

McAvoy (3) and Zdeno Chara (1) tallied the assists on Coyle’s goal and the B’s led, 3-1, at 9:27 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, feeling as though he had been wronged on the non-call against Pastrnak (even though it was his own defender’s doing that caused No. 88 in black-and-gold to crash into the New York goaltender), Lundqvist lunged at Pastrnak while the Bruin was attempting to make a play of the puck in the trapezoid.

Marchand and Lundqvist got into a shoving match immediately thereafter and each were disciplined with roughing minors at 10:01.

Pavel Buchnevich served Lundqvist’s penalty in the box for the Rangers as both teams skated 4-on-4 for two minutes before resuming full strength action.

After serving his time in the box, Marchand (7) sniped a shot past Lundqvist to give the Bruins four unanswered goals in the second period.

Whereas on the previous goal, Coyle received a pass on a wraparound from McAvoy, this time around Coyle received a drop pass from Jake DeBrusk, wrapped around the Rangers net and sent a pass to Marchand for the goal.

Coyle (3) and DeBrusk (3) tallied the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the night at 12:09.

After allowing a fourth goal against, Rangers head coach, David Quinn, used his team’s only timeout to refocus his team.

Seconds later, Chara tripped Brendan Lemieux and was sent to the box at 12:36, but New York couldn’t convert on the resulting skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes in “The Big Apple”, the Bruins led the Rangers, 4-1, on the scoreboard and outshot New York, 31-12, entering the second intermission– including a, 21-5, advantage in the middle frame alone for Boston.

The Rangers, however, had taken advantage of nearly everything else, leading in blocked shots (14-7), takeaways (4-3), giveaways (19-8) and hits (18-10), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (55-46).

New York was 0/3 and the B’s were 0/2 on the skater advantage to begin the final frame of regulation.

Quinn replaced Lundqvist with Georgiev prior to the start of the third period and the young Rangers goaltender was immediately put to the test less than a minute after coming into the game.

Chara (2) blasted a one-timer rocket from the point over Georgiev’s glove and the Bruins extended their lead to four-goals.

Pastrnak (10) and Carlo (3) had the assists on Chara’s goal 43 seconds into the third period and the Bruins led, 5-1.

Moments later, Pastrnak tripped up Buchnevich and presented the Rangers with yet another power play opportunity at 4:18 of the third period.

New York didn’t score and Boston successfully made the kill.

The B’s announced that forward, Par Lindholm, suffered an upper body injury at some point in the action and would not return for the night– this, after New York did the same with Mika Zibanejad back in the first period after Zibanejad got laid out on the ice along the boards on a clean hit from Bergeron.

Almost midway through the third, Buchnevich (2) cut Boston’s lead to three-goals as Artemi Panarin sent a saucer pass across the ice to Tony DeAngelo, whereby DeAngelo spotted Buchnevich in the low slot acting as a bumper for the goal.

DeAngelo (3) and Panarin (3) had the assists and the Rangers trailed, 5-2, at 8:15 of the third period.

Moments later, Bergeron (4) sent a shot from the high slot into the corner of the twine behind Georgiev for his second goal of the game and re-extended Boston’s lead back to four at 11:39.

Marchand (12) and Pastrnak (11) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2.

Late in the third, Chara received a delay of game penalty for closing his hand on the puck at 17:52.

Nine seconds later, New York scored on the power play as Chris Kreider (2) snuck around Halak to pocket a rebound off the post and just across the goal line to make it, 6-3.

DeAngelo (4) and Buchnevich (6) were credited with the assists on Kreider’s goal at 18:01.

Just 21 seconds later, Skjei (1) notched his first of the season while following up on another rebound as the Bruins completely broke down in their own zone.

Panarin (4) and Ryan Strome (5) gathered the assists on Skjei’s goal and the Rangers trailed by two, 6-4, in favor of Boston at 18:22.

But with about 90 seconds left on the clock, Quinn pulled Georgiev for an extra attacker, leaving Bergeron (5) with the hat trick goal on an empty net at 19:15 to seal the deal on the win for the B’s, 7-4.

Marchand (13) and Pastrnak (12) each collected their 5th point of the night on Bergeron’s 5th career hat trick.

The Bruins finished the night with the win and with the advantage in shots on goal, 43-29, while the Rangers bounced back to a, 17-12, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

New York wrapped up Sunday night’s action leading in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (25-13), hits (21-15).

The Rangers went 1/5 on the skater advantage in the game.

Boston finished the night with the advantage in faceoff win% (52-49) and 0/2 on the power play.

Bergeron’s hat trick marked Boston’s second hat trick this season as Pastrnak previously scored a hat trick (and a fourth goal for good measure) in the Bruins’, 4-2, victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 14th.

With five assists on the night– despite not scoring a goal– Pastrnak now has 11-12–23 totals through 11 games played this season.

Boston finishes the month of October at home Tuesday night versus the San Jose Sharks. They begin the month of November at home against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (Nov. 2nd).

The Bruins went 8-3-2 in back-to-back days with games last season and improved to 4-1-1 on the road this season.

Sunday night’s matchup was the 2,000th regular season game at “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden.

Bruins win, 3-0, in Stanley Cup Final rematch

Tuukka Rask backstopped the Boston Bruins to their, 3-0, shutout victory over the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden Saturday night, while David Pastrnak added yet another goal to his league-leading goal scoring totals in the win.

Rask (5-0-1, 1.48 goals against average, .952 save percentage in six games played) turned aside all 26 shots that he faced for his 2nd shutout of the season (and 47th of his career).

The Bruins have three shutouts in 10 games this season.

Meanwhile, Blues goaltender, Jordan Binnington (4-2-3, 2.53 GAA, .916 SV% in nine games played) made 21 saves on 23 shots against (.913 SV%) in the loss.

Boston improved to 4-0-1 at home this season and 7-1-2 (16 points) overall– good enough to remain in 2nd place of the Atlantic Division. St. Louis fell to 5-3-3 (13 points), but stayed in 3rd place in the Central Division standings.

Bruins defenders, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) have yet to make their season debuts, but are progressing according to plan with Miller expected to begin practicing with the rest of the team next week and Moore still sidelined until mid-November.

David Krejci (upper body) missed his 3rd consecutive game and was ruled out for the weekend by Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy. Krejci is hopeful to return on Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

Meanwhile, Joakim Nordstrom returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with an upper body injury and Karson Kuhlman (hairline nondisplaced fracture of the right tibia) is out for at least four weeks.

Kuhlman sustained his fractured tibia in Boston’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, Oct. 19th while blocking a shot. He missed his 2nd consecutive game this season Saturday against the Blues.

As a result of all the injuries plaguing the B’s, Cassidy switched things up among his bottom-six forwards with Nordstrom’s return to action.

Anders Bjork joined Par Lindholm on the left side, while Danton Heinen was shifted to right wing on the third line.

Meanwhile, Nordstrom was reunited with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner in their usual spots on the fourth line.

David Backes and Steven Kampfer were Boston’s only healthy scratches against St. Louis.

Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body) was out for the Blues in their first matchup against the Bruins in Boston since winning their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history on June 12th at TD Garden in Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

Less than a minute into the action, Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara leveled Oskar Sundqvist with a big hit near St. Louis’ bench.

Blues forward, Brayden Schenn, responded to Chara’s hit and the two players were escorted to the penalty box with roughing minors 38 seconds into the first period.

Both teams skated 4-on-4 as a result for two minutes, then resumed full strength afterwards with no issues until about five minutes later when Torey Krug and David Perron got into a bit of a shoving match.

Krug was penalized for holding the stick and Perron received a roughing infraction as a result. Both penalties were called at 6:13 of the first period and once again– the two teams skated 4-on-4 for a couple minutes.

Late in the opening frame, Perron was guilty of holding Charlie Coyle and sent to the sin bin as a result at 14:08.

Boston capitalized on their first power play opportunity of the night as Pastrnak (11) blasted a one-timer through Binnington’s seven-hole to give the B’s the game’s first goal at 14:59.

Krug (7) and Brad Marchand (10) had the assists on Pastrnak’s power play goal and the Bruins led, 1-0.

Less than a minute later, Kuraly was penalized for cross checking Vince Dunn and the Blues went on the power play at 15:49.

St. Louis wasn’t able to convert on the skater advantage– what would become a trend for the Notes all evening.

Finally, to wrap up the first frame, Sundqvist got his stick caught in Connor Clifton’s skate and tripped the Bruins defender at 18:12.

Boston’s ensuing power play would carryover into the second period.

Through 20 minutes of action Saturday night, the Bruins led St. Louis, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 10-9, in shots on goal.

The B’s also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-2) and giveaways (5-1) entering the first intermission, while the Blues led in takeaways (6-3), hits (10-9) and faceoff win percentage (57-44).

St. Louis was 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the second period.

Despite starting the middle frame with 12 seconds left on the power play, Boston’s skater advantage went powerless for the rest of the night after Pastrnak’s first period power play goal.

But midway through the middle frame, Bjork (1) ripped a one-timer over Binnington’s glove on a pass from Matt Grzelcyk to put Boston ahead, 2-0.

Grzelcyk (2) and Heinen (1) tallied the assists at 9:31 of the second period as Bjork snapped a 17-game goal drought.

Just 11 seconds later, Krug hooked Perron and presented St. Louis with their second power play of the night at 9:42. The Blues did not convert on the advantage.

In the vulnerable minute after a special teams effort, Sundqvist didn’t use his better judgment and boarded Charlie McAvoy at 12:06, resulting in a power play for the Bruins.

At least Boston didn’t score on the ensuing skater advantage.

With less than a minute left in the second period, Grzelcyk interfered with Alexander Steen at 19:17 and was sent to the penalty box accordingly, yielding 1:17 of time carried over on the power play for St. Louis to start the third period.

After two periods in Boston, the Bruins led, 2-0. The B’s held a, 19-16, advantage in shots on goal– including a, 9-7, advantage in the second period alone– and led in giveaways (7-3), while the Notes led in takeaways (10-6), hits (21-16) and faceoff win% (68-33).

Both teams had five blocked shots aside entering the second intermission.

Boston was 1/3 on the power play, while St. Louis was 0/3 on the skater advantage.

St. Louis began the third period with 1:17 left on their power play, but couldn’t muster anything on the fresh sheet of ice, leaving the Bruins unharmed.

Early in the final frame of regulation, Colton Parayko hooked Bjork and was sent to the box at 4:02 of the third period.

Boston didn’t score on the resulting power play.

Midway through the third, Krug was penalized for holding 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Ryan O’Reilly, and sent to the box at 8:22, but once again the Blues were powerless and let another skater advantage slip by.

With 2:35 remaining in the game, Blue head coach, Craig Berube pulled Binnington for an extra attacker.

At 19:11 of the third, Brandon Carlo (1) cleared the puck out of his own zone and into the empty twine to make it, 3-0, Boston with an unassisted goal.

The Bruins won, 3-0, at the final horn, despite being outshot, 26-24, in the action.

Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (11-8), while St. Louis finished leading in hits (27-22) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Both teams ended up with nine giveaways each.

Boston travels to Madison Square Garden for their second game in back-to-back days for a Sunday night matchup with the New York Rangers before finishing the month of October at home Tuesday night versus San Jose.

Rielly nets two in Leafs, 4-3, OT victory over Boston

Morgan Rielly had two goals– including the game-winning goal in overtime– in the, 4-3, victory for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Arena Saturday night.

Leafs goaltender, Frederik Andersen (5-2-0, 3.09 goals against average, .902 save percentage in seven games played) turned aside 43 shots out of 46 shots against for a .935 SV% in the overtime win for Toronto.

Meanwhile, Bruins netminder, Jaroslav Halak (2-1-1, 2.23 GAA, .931 SV% in four games played) had 25 saves on 29 shots for an .862 SV% in the overtime loss for the B’s.

Boston fell to 5-1-2 (12 points) on the season, but retained 2nd place status in the Atlantic Division, while Toronto cemented their foundation in 3rd place with a 5-3-1 record (10 points) this season.

The Bruins fell to 3-1-1 on the road this season, while the Maple Leafs improved to 3-2-1 on home ice.

For the eighth time this season, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were out of the lineup due to injury. Joining them in not traveling to Toronto, were David Krejci (upper body) and Joakim Nordstrom (upper body), who also missed Saturday night’s action against the Maple Leafs.

With injuries piling up for Boston, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, re-inserted David Backes on the fourth line right wing (moving Chris Wagner to the left side in place of Nordstrom) and flipped Brett Ritchie with Karson Kuhlman on the second and third lines.

Kuhlman rejoined Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle while Krejci is injured and Ritchie joined Danton Heinen and Par Lindholm on the third line.

Steven Kampfer was the only healthy scratch for the Bruins on Saturday, while John Tavares (broken finger) was the only member of Toronto not already on the injured reserve, but out of the lineup due to injury nonetheless.

Tavares suffered his injury Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. in Toronto’s, 4-3, loss to the Capitals.

Zach Hyman (torn ACL), Travis Dermott (shoulder), Mason Marchment (undisclosed), David Clarkson (back) and Nathan Horton (back) are all on the injured reserve/long term injured reserve for the Leafs and were not in action against Boston.

Maple Leafs alternate captain, Morgan Rielly (1) scored his first goal of the season with a shot from the point the deflected off of Bruins defender, Brandon Carlo, and through Halak’s five-hole to give Toronto the lead, 1-0.

Mitch Marner (7) and Andreas Johnsson (3) tallied the assists on Rielly’s goal at 5:55 of the first period.

Almost ten minutes later, Sean Kuraly turned the puck over in his own zone, as Dmytro Timashov (1) stripped the Bruins fourth line center of the rubber biscuit, skated to the slot and wristed a shot over Halak’s glove side for his first career National Hockey League goal at 15:44.

Frederik Gauthier (1) had the only assist on Timashov’s goal and the Leafs led, 2-0.

In the final minute of the opening frame, Toronto’s two-goal lead was cut in half as DeBrusk (1) notched his first goal of the season from point blank in the low slot on a pass from Coyle at 19:39.

Coyle (2) and Wagner (2) recorded the primary and secondary assists, respectively, after working hard to keep the puck in the attacking zone and setting up DeBrusk for the tally.

DeBrusk’s goal was the first goal for the Bruins by someone not named Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak in almost 200 minutes of hockey.

Entering the first intermission, the Maple Leafs led Boston, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins, 18-15, in shots on goal.

Boston managed to hold the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), giveaways (6-5) and faceoff win percentage (71-29), while Toronto led in takeaways (7-3) and hits (12-6) heading into the second period.

Neither team had taken a penalty in the first period and thus both teams were still 0/0 on the power play.

Early in the middle frame, Ilya Mikheyev was called for holding against Carlo and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 1:56 of the second period.

Toronto’s penalty kill was too good for the B’s skater advantage, however.

Nicholas Shore tripped up Lindholm at 7:52 and the Leafs went back on the penalty kill, but were able to hold off Boston’s advances on the power play.

Late in the period, after being pushed by Martin Marincin and not able to stop because he had too much speed to begin with while crashing the net, Backes received a goaltender interference minor and was subsequently wrestled to the ice by Marincin at 16:41.

It appeared as though Toronto would see time on their first power play of the night, except for the roughing minor that was called for Marincin’s actions in front of the net.

Why? Nobody knows, but hey, both teams got through 4-on-4 action unscathed and resumed full strength, 5-on-5, play with 1:19 remaining in the second period.

But then Marincin hooked DeBrusk at 19:37 after a long flow of action in Toronto’s own zone without a stoppage.

So Boston would on be on the skater advantage into the third period as a result of not scoring at the conclusion of the second period.

The Maple Leafs entered the second intermission with the, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard after 40 minutes of play, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 33-18– including a, 15-3, advantage in the second period alone for Boston.

Toronto led in blocked shots (11-6), takeaways (12-6) and hits (20-19) heading into the third period.

Boston led in giveaways (11-10) and faceoff win% (54-46) after two periods.

The Leafs had yet to see time on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 0/3 heading into the third period.

Boston’s power play from the second period extended into the final frame of regulation.

Late in the skater advantage, Ritchie worked a pass to Heinen (2) for the elevated shot over Andersen while the Maple Leafs goaltender dove to make a save, tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Ritchie (1) and Pastrnak (6) had the assists on Heinen’s power play goal at 1:36 of the third period.

A mere 61 seconds later, Alexander Kerfoot (3) followed a rebound from point blank and floated a backhanded shot over Halak’s blocker side to give Toronto another lead, 3-2, at 2:37.

Jake Muzzin (4) and Mikheyev (4) tallied the assists on Kerfoot’s goal.

Late in the period, Bergeron tossed a pass to Marchand who sent the puck to Pastrnak (9) for the one-timer blast past Andersen’s short side over the blocker and into the twine to tie the game, 3-3, at 15:34.

Marchand (8) and Bergeron (6) had the assists on Pastrnak’s 15th point of the season.

No. 88 in black-and-gold now has 15 points in eight games so far this season and became the 5th Bruin in franchise history to record at least 15 points in his first 10 team games multiple times in his career, joining Bobby Orr (1969-70, 1971-72, 1973-74 and 1974-75), Phil Esposito (1970-71, 1971-72, 1973-74 and 1974-75), Bill Cowley (1940-41, 1943-44 and 1944-45) and Adam Oates (1992-93 and 1993-94), according to Conor Ryan of Boston Sports Journal.

At the end of regulation, the two teams were tied, 3-3, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 45-27.

Boston held a slight edge over Toronto in shots on net in the third period alone with a, 12-9, advantage.

The Leafs led the B’s in blocked shots (14-9), takeaways (14-9), hits (34-32) and faceoff win% (54-47) after 60 minutes of play, but both teams had 16 giveaways each heading into overtime.

Toronto did not see any time on the power play and Boston finished 1/3 on the skater advantage as neither team was penalized in overtime.

Cassidy started Kuraly, Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy in overtime, while Maple Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, went with Kerfoot, Kasperi Kapanen and Tyson Barrie.

With almost a minute remaining in overtime, Auston Matthews wrapped around the net and tossed a pass to Marner.

Marner fired a shot from the slot that deflected off of Rielly (2) and found its way over Halak’s blocker and into the back of the net to win the game, 4-3, for Toronto.

Marner (8) and Matthews (2) had the assists on Rielly’s game-winning goal at 3:54 of the overtime period.

The Maple Leafs won the game, 4-3, but trailed the Bruins in the final shots on goal total, 46-29.

Toronto controlled all the other statistics, however, finishing the night with the advantage in blocked shots (14-9), giveaways (17-16), hits (36-34) and faceoff win% (53-47).

The Leafs improved to 1-0 in overtime this season, while B’s fell to 0-1 in OT. It was the 2nd straight game that required overtime for Boston, but the first that ended before a shootout.

Boston and Toronto finish their home and home series Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The B’s then have a few days off before they face the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in a 2019 Stanley Cup Final rematch for the first time this season at home on Oct. 26th.

St. Louis will actually be the first of games on back-to-back days for the Bruins, as Boston will travel to New York to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 27th before finishing the month at home against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 29th.

Lightning strike Bruins, 4-3, in shootout victory

Steven Stamkos’ only goal in a shootout was enough to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Boston Bruins, 4-3, on Thursday night at TD Garden.

The Bolts led briefly in the third period before the B’s tied the game almost two minutes later and forced overtime.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (4-1-0, 2.58 goals against average, .921 save percentage in five games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .919 SV% in the shootout win for Tampa.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (3-0-1, 1.72 GAA, .946 SV% in four games played) stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced for a .917 SV% in the shootout loss.

The Bruins fell to 5-1-1 (11 points) on the season and temporarily moved into 1st place in the Atlantic Division before the Buffalo Sabres won their late game Thursday night and regained control of the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the Lightning improved to 4-2-1 (9 points) and moved into 3rd place in the Atlantic, thanks to having more points in fewer games than the Toronto Maple Leafs (Tampa has nine points in seven games, while Toronto has nine points in eight games).

For the seventh time this season, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were out of the action due to injury.

David Krejci (upper body) was also ruled out of Thursday night’s action after sustaining an injury or re-injuring something in Monday afternoon’s meeting with the Anaheim Ducks.

Miller and Moore both skated on their own in red no-contact sweaters before practice Thursday morning, while Krejci’s prognosis is to be determined.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines in Krejci’s absence, moving Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie up to the second line with Jake DeBrusk (celebrating his 23rd birthday on Thursday) at left wing, while re-inserting Par Lindholm in the lineup at center on the third line and bumping Karson Kuhlman to the third line right wing.

Connor Clifton was also back in the lineup for Boston after serving his time as a healthy scratch against the Ducks.

David Backes and Steven Kampfer were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Thursday.

Midway through the opening frame, Lightning forward, Mikhail Sergachev, was guilty of holding Bruins forward, Brett Ritchie, and was sent to the penalty box at 9:27 of the first period.

Seven seconds into the ensuing power play, Boston’s David Pastrnak (7) struck first on the scoreboard with a power play goal on a one-timer pass from Patrice Bergeron to give the B’s the lead, 1-0, at 9:34.

Bergeron (5) and Torey Krug (4) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal.

With his 5th consecutive goal for Boston, Pastrnak tied Dunc Fisher for the 2nd most consecutive goals in Bruins franchise history. Glen Murray is the team record holder with six consecutive goals for Boston in the 2003-04 season, while Pastrnak and Fisher each have five in 2019-20 and 1951-52, repsectively.

Less than two minutes later, Sean Kuraly hooked Nikita Kucherov and Tampa went on the skater advantage for the first time of the night.

The Bruins killed off Kuraly’s minor without any major issues.

Moments later, Bergeron was penalized for slashing against Ondrej Palat and cut a rut to the sin bin at 16:09.

Once more, the Bolts weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

In the final seconds of the first period, Yanni Gourde flipped the puck through the neutral zone to Brayden Point (3) who entered the attacking zone on a quick breakaway and elevated the puck into the top of the twine to tie the game, 1-1, at 19:59.

Gourde (3) and Victor Hedman (6) notched the assists on Point’s goal as the teams went into the first intermission knotted at, 1-1.

Tampa led in shots on goal (16-11), hits (12-4) and faceoff win percentage (60-40), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (4-1) and giveaways (8-4).

Both teams had two takeaways aside after 20 minutes of action.

The Lightning were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 1/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Bergeron took a beating early in the middle frame as No. 37 in black-and-gold was on the receiving end of consecutive penalties by the Lightning.

First, Carter Verhaeghe tripped Bergeron at 2:15 of the second period, then Gourde interfered with Bergeron at 6:23.

Boston was unsuccessful on their first power play of the second period, but worked their magic while Gourde was in the box.

Bergeron (2) redirected a slap pass from Pastrnak into the twine to give the Bruins their second power play goal of the game and the lead, 2-1.

Pastrnak (5) and Brad Marchand (6) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 7:26.

Shortly after regaining the lead, the Bruins turned the puck over at an inopportune time, leading to a quality scoring chance for the Bolts.

Tampa forward, Alex Killorn, fired a shot that Rask got a chunk of, but couldn’t contain the rebound as Mathieu Joseph (2) pounced on the loose puck for the tap-in goal, tying the game, 2-2.

Killorn (3) and Erik Cernak (1) were credited with the assists on Joseph’s goal at 10:32..

Late in the period, Cernak was charged with a minor for interference against Lindholm at 17:56 and the B’s went on the power play for the fourth time of the night.

Boston was not able to capitalize on the skater advantage, however.

Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden, the Bruins and Lightning were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard.

Tampa led in shots on goal (29-21– including a, 13-10, advantage in the second period alone), blocked shots (6-5) and hits (22-9), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (11-8).

The two clubs were split in faceoff win%, 50-50.

The Bolts were powerless on the power play (0/2) after two periods, while the B’s were 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Pat Maroon while trailing the Lightning forward and was sent to the box at 8:25 of the third.

Tampa didn’t convert on their third power play opportunity of the night and the Bruins killed off Grzelcyk’s minor as a result.

After dominating in shots on net, Boston gave up a chance the other way that Kevin Shattenkirk (4) was sure to take advantage of– sending a snap shot over Rask’s glove side from the faceoff dot to give the Lightning their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 15:13 of the third period.

Stamkos (5) and Point (2) recorded the assists on Shattenkirk’s goal.

The Bolts followed up their lead with a quick penalty of their own– Anthony Cirelli was guilty of a minor infraction for tripping Pastrnak at 16:08.

On the ensuing skater advantage, Boston fired everything but the kitchen sink towards the goal, missing the net entirely a couple of times, but proving to be worthy in the long-run.

After Marchand fired a shot off the endboards that caromed back into the slot, Pastrnak (8) sent the puck off of Shattenkirk’s stick and into the net behind Vasilevskiy to tie the game, 3-3, with his 2nd goal of the night.

Marchand (7) and Krug (5) each had a hand in assisting Pastrnak’s power play goal at 16:55.

Boston’s three goals all came on the power play, while Tampa’s weak penalty kill was on full display Thursday night.

At the end of regulation, the score remained tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, while Tampa held onto a slim advantage in shots on goal, 33-32, despite trailing, 11-4, in shots on goal in the third period alone.

The Lightning maintained an advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (7-6), giveaways (15-12), hits (29-21) and faceoff win% (53-47) heading into overtime.

The Bolts were 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s were 3/5 on the skater advantage.

Cassidy started Coyle, Pastrnak and Krug in overtime, while Tampa’s head coach, Jon Cooper, opted for Cirelli, Killon and Hedman to kick things off in the five-minute, 3-on-3, OT action.

Neither team scored and Marchand had Point in a headlock in the dying seconds to prevent a last second scoring chance for the Bolts.

He was assessed a roughing penalty at 5:00 of the overtime period, but could still take part in the shootout, because apparently there’s no rule that’d say otherwise.

After the overtime period, the Bruins held the slight advantage in shots on goal, 37-36, including a, 5-3, advantage in overtime alone.

Tampa finished the night with the lead in blocked shots (12-9), giveaways (15-12), hits (31-21) and faceoff win% (53-47), while both teams had seven takeaways aside.

The Lightning finished the night 0/3 on the power play and the B’s went 3/5.

Boston elected to shoot second in the shootout, thereby giving Tampa the first shot of the first round of the shootout.

Cooper sent Hedman to get things started, but the defender was denied by Rask with a blocker save.

Cassidy responded by sending Coyle for the first attempt on Vasilevskiy, but the Tampa netminder wasn’t fooled by Coyle’s deke and made a pad save.

Point made an appearance for the Lightning in the second round of the shootout, but clipped Rask’s blocker and sent the puck wide of the net.

Next up for Boston, Pastrnak flat out missed the goal frame, leaving the shootout tied, 0-0, through two rounds.

Last season’s Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy winner, Kucherov had Tampa’s first shot of the third round of the shootout, but was stopped by Rask with the pad save as Kucherov tried to go five-hole.

In response, Marchand tried to get Vasilevskiy to stretch just far enough that Marchand would’ve eluded the Lightning goaltender, but Vasilevskiy made the save with the right leg pad and kept the shootout even, 0-0, through three rounds.

Finally, Stamkos broke open the scoring in the shootout with a shot high over Rask’s blocker and into the back of the net to give Tampa the, 1-0, advantage– meaning Boston would have to score to extend the shootout.

Celebrating his birthday in style, DeBrusk was given Boston’s last chance in the shootout, but was stopped by Vasilevskiy’s blocker, leaving the Bruins scoreless in the shootout and with the, 4-3, loss in the final boxscore.

Boston wrapped up their three-game homestand 2-0-1 thanks to their shootout loss to Tampa on Thursday.

The Bruins travel to Toronto for a home and home series with the Maple Leafs on Oct. 19th at Scotiabank Arena and Oct. 22nd at TD Garden.

It will be Boston and Toronto’s first meeting since their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.

Afterwards, the B’s then have a few days off until they’ll face the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in a 2019 Stanley Cup Final rematch for the first time this season at home on Oct. 26th.

St. Louis kicks off the first games on back-to-back days for the Bruins this season, as Boston will travel to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Oct. 27th before finishing the month on home ice against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 29th.

Rangers at Bruins Preview: 3/27/2019

The Boston Bruins (46-21-9, 101 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division) return home after going 3-1-0 on a four-game road trip to host the New York Rangers (29-33-17, 71 points, 7th in the Metropolitan Division) Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Boston is in the midst of an 11-game win streak on home ice, but is 0-1-1 against New York this season, having suffered a, 4-3, shootout loss at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 6th and a, 3-2, loss in Boston on Jan. 19th.

It is the final meeting between these two clubs this season.

The Bruins have already clinched a playoff berth– thanks to their win in Florida on Saturday– and the Rangers were officially eliminated from postseason contention earlier this month.

Marcus Johansson (lung contusion) and Torey Krug (concussion) will likely return to the lineup for the B’s, while Kevan Miller (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) and John Moore (upper body) all remain out the action.

Miller and Grzelcyk will return to full contact at practice on Friday, according to Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, hours before the game on Wednesday, while Moore is week-to-week.

Johansson will likely suit up on the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk in his usual spot at left wing and David Krejci at center, while Krug should return to his spot on the second defensive pairing with Brandon Carlo on the blue line.

As a result of Johansson’s return to the lineup, Karson Kuhlman will likely be the only healthy scratch for Boston on Wednesday night.

Cassidy indicated to reporters that Jaroslav Halak (20-10-4 record, 2.31 goals against average, .924 save percentage in 37 games played) will get the start in the crease against the Rangers.

Boston is 4-1-0 in their last five games, while New York visits the Hub with a 1-5-1 record in their last seven outings.

Former Boston University Terriers men’s hockey head coach– and current Rangers head coach– David Quinn, told reporters that Henrik Lundqvist (18-20-10, 2.99 GAA, .909 SV% in 49 GP) will get the start for New York.

Quinn also informed the media members that Boo Nieves is out of the lineup in addition to Chris Kreider (day-to-day) and Marc Staal (day-to-day). Connor Brickley will play in Nieves’ place on the roster against the B’s.

Boston is coming off a, 5-4, loss on the road to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, while New York enters TD Garden after a, 5-2, loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home on Monday.

Halak, Bruins let another one slip away, 4-3, in shootout

The New York Rangers took home the, 4-3, shootout victory on Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden after allowing three unanswered goals in the second period.

New York mounted a comeback in the third period to tie the game, 3-3, then after an entertaining, high-action, three-on-three overtime period was not enough, the Rangers put it away in seven rounds of a shootout.

Alexandar Georgiev (7-9-0 record, 3.24 goals against average, .897 save percentage in 18 games played) made 27 saves on 30 shots faced for a .900 SV% in the shootout win as the Rangers improved to 9-1-0 in their last 10 regular season battles with Boston.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (13-9-4, 2.50 GAA, .918 SV% in 28 GP) recorded 36 saves on 39 shots against for a .923 SV% in the shootout loss and fell to 18-8-1 in his career against the Rangers.

Boston fell to 19-2-1 when leading after two periods this season and is now 2-0-1 so far in February.

The B’s fell to 29-17-8 (66 points) on the season, but improved to 3rd place in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Rangers improved to 23-22-8 (54 points), but remain in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines– reinserting Danton Heinen on the fourth line in place of David Backes, but later jumbling every forward line except for the Sean KuralyNoel AcciariChris Wagner trio.

By the end of the night, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Heinen made up the first line with Peter Cehlarik, David Krejci and David Pastrnak filling out the top-six forwards.

Joakim Nordstrom, Trent Frederic and Jake DeBrusk were relegated to fourth line duties with Nordstrom coming up strong in breaking up some crucial plays in overtime.

Cassidy kept his same defensive pairings from Tuesday, with John Moore, Backes and Steven Kampfer serving as the B’s healthy scratches on Wednesday.

Given it was the second night of back-to-back games, Halak got the start in goal over Tuukka Rask, who picked up the, 3-1, win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Bergeron tripped up Rangers forward, Mika Zibanejad at 1:11 of the first period and handed New York their first power play opportunity of the night early in the action.

The Rangers did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage and followed up with a penalty of their own– Marc Staal for cross-checking Kuraly– at 13:39.

Boston did not succeed in their first skater advantage opportunity of the night.

Moments later, Zibanejad (22) let go of a snipe-shot from the point that had eyes and beat Halak to give New York the lead, 1-0.

Mats Zuccarello (21) recorded the only assist on Zibanejad’s goal at 17:45.

Will less than a minute remaining in the opening frame, Kuraly bumped into Boo Nieves while both players weren’t looking at each other and drew the ire of Jimmy Vesey at 19:08.

Vesey was dealt a cross-checking minor against Wagner, while Kuraly received a roughing minor against Nieves. Both penalties were handed out with 51 seconds remaining until the first intermission and would yield 4-on-4 action into the second period.

After one period of play, the Rangers led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 12-9.

Boston maintained the advantage in blocked shots (5-4) and takeaways (6-3), while New York led in giveaways (5-4), hits (15-10) and face-off win percentage (55-46).

Both clubs were 0/1 on the power play entering the 2nd period.

Kevan Miller cross-checked Vladislav Namestnikov at 2:16 of the second period, but the Rangers didn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Cassidy restructured his lines almost midway through the middle frame and it provided instant results.

On a face-off in the offensive zone, Marchand worked the puck back to Matt Grzelcyk for the shot towards the goal that was tipped by Heinen (7) for his first goal in his first game back since being a healthy scratch for the last few games.

Grzelcyk (13) and Marchand (41) tallied the assists on Heinen’s goal at 10:37 of the second period and the game was tied, 1-1.

Just 72 seconds later, Pastrnak (31) redirected a pass from Krejci behind Georgiev to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 11:49 of the middle frame.

Krejci (31) and Miller (5) were tabbed with the primary and secondary assists, respectively.

Less than 30 seconds later, Bergeron took his second trip to the penalty box– this time for slashing Zuccarello– at 12:12.

Shortly after New York’s power play expired, Tony DeAngelo was guilty of tripping Bergeron at 14:22, resulting in a power play for Boston.

Less than a minute into the skater advantage, Bergeron (19) tipped a shot from Torey Krug past the right leg of the Rangers goaltender as Georgiev attempted to make a butterfly save.

Krug (31) and Marchand (42) had the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 15:11 of the second period and the B’s led, 3-1.

Late in the period, Brandon Carlo and Zuccarello got tangled up with each other and received matching roughing minors at 16:34.

Entering the dressing room after 40 minutes of action, Boston led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, but trailed New York, 22-20, in shots on goal. The Bruins did, however, lead in second period shots on goal alone– with a slight advantage– 11-10.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (7-6), while the Rangers led in just about everything else, including takeaways (10-9), giveaways (12-6) and hits (30-16) entering the final frame of regulation.

Both teams went 50-50 in face-off win% after two periods and the Rangers were 0/3 on the power play entering the third period. Boston was 1/2 on the skater advantage.

Kevin Hayes (12) made it a one-goal game at 9:24 of the third period.

Pavel Buchnevich received a pass up the middle and threw a shot on goal that Vesey chased down the rebound for in order to send the puck to Hayes for the goal.

Vesey (14) and Buchnevich (8) had the assists and the Rangers trailed, 3-2.

Charlie McAvoy took a horrendous boarding penalty at 12:05 of the third period. It was horrendous, because it ultimately proved costly.

Filip Chytil (10) pocketed a rebound that Halak failed to control after Buchnevich fired the initial shot.

Buchnevich (9) and DeAngelo (10) had the assists on Chytil’s power play goal for New York at 12:42 and the Rangers tied the game, 3-3.

Through 60 minutes of regulation, both teams were still tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, despite the Rangers leading in shots on goal (33-29), blocked shots (10-9), giveaways (20-11) and hits (41-25).

Boston, in the meantime, escaped regulation with the lead in takeaways (13-11) and face-off win% (53-47).

The Rangers finished the night 1/4 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2 as no penalties were called in the five-minute, three-on-three overtime period.

Cassidy started Pastrnak, Krejci and Krug in overtime for the Bruins as both teams got off to a frantic pace, leading to chance after chance and save after save.

Eventually, both teams attempted their fair share of trick shots and odd banks off of pads, sticks and whatever they could find to try to will the puck into the twine.

But, Georgiev and Halak stood tall, leading to a shootout after five minutes of overtime was not enough.

As an aside, the Rangers had six shots on goal in overtime, compared to Boston’s one shot on net (officially).

New York finished the night leading in shots on goal (39-30), blocked shots (12-10), giveaways (21-11) and hits (42-26), while the Bruins led in face-off win% (55-45).

In the shootout, David Quinn elected to have his home team Rangers shoot first on Halak, but Zuccarello was denied by the outer post.

Cassidy sent out Cehlarik as his first shooter, but Georgiev made the save.

Kevin Shattenkirk was denied by Halak, as Pastrnak failed to muster a shot off his stick in the second round of the shootout.

Zibanejad deked and roofed the puck to give New York the, 1-0, advantage in the third round of the shootout, but was matched by Marchand’s nifty dangle-turned-five hole squib-shot to even it, 1-1, after three rounds.

Hayes was turned aside by Halak and McAvoy had the puck poke checked away by the Rangers netminder in the fourth round.

Chytil rang the post and DeBrusk’s shot was saved by Georgiev in the fifth round.

Vesey nailed the crossbar and Heinen was stopped in the sixth round.

Finally, DeAngelo mustered enough stick work on the puck to get Halak to commit to a sprawling position, as DeAngelo then elevated the puck for what became the game-winning shootout goal in the seventh round after Krejci fired his shot wide.

New York improved to 6-2 in shootouts on the season, while Boston fell to 1-2 past overtime this season.

The Rangers had won, 4-3, officially on the scoreboard after the shootout and stole the extra point past regulation.

Call it Adam McQuaid‘s revenge or whatever, but Wednesday night’s game was the 54th game of the regular season for Boston.

The Bruins venture back home for a three-game homestand at TD Garden starting Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET with a matchup against the Los Angeles Kings.

Boston will honor Bergeron prior to puck drop for participating in his 1,000th career regular season NHL game on Tuesday.

Sunday afternoon, the B’s take on the Colorado Avalanche, then wrap things up at home with a tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday.

Cassidy’s crew swings through the three teams in California, the Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues on a roadtrip from Feb. 15th through the 23rd.

Bergeron nets two in his 1,000th game, B’s win, 3-1

Patrice Bergeron opened the game’s scoring while crashing the net on a rebound and closed the game’s scoring with an empty net goal, while Peter Cehlarik took home the game-winning goal in the Boston Bruins’, 3-1, victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

It was the 53rd game of the 2018-19 regular season for the Bruins and the 1,000th regular season game in Bergeron’s career.

An alternate captain for the Bruins playing in his 15th NHL season, Bergeron became the 53rd player in NHL history to score a goal in his 1,000th game and the 3rd to do so in a Boston uniform (joining Johnny Bucyk on Dec. 10, 1970 and Jean Ratelle on March 23, 1977).

The 33-year-old two-way center joined Brent Burns, Jason Pominville, Tomas Plekanec and Thomas Vanek as the only players to score in their 1,000th career regular season game so far this season.

Bergeron also became the 6th player in league history to score multiple goals in his 1,000th game.

Tuukka Rask (16-8-4 record, 2.30 goals against average, .924 save percentage in 29 games played) made 28 saves on 29 shots against for the .966 SV% in the win for Boston– his 254th of his career.

In his last 11 starts, Rask is now 8-1-2 with a 1.42 GAA and .945 SV%. Boston is 9-3-3 in their last 15 games as a result.

Robin Lehner (16-8-4, 2.02 GAA, .932 SV% in 29 GP) turned aside 24 out of 26 shots faced for a .923 SV% in the loss for New York.

The Islanders’ eight-game point streak came to an end as a result of the loss in regulation to Boston on Tuesday.

The Bruins improved to 29-17-7 (65 points) on the season and remained in 4th place in the Atlantic Division, while the Islanders fell to 30-16-6 (66 points), but stayed in command of the Metropolitan Division.

Boston also improved to 19-4-5 when scoring first this season and 2-0-0 in the month of February.

Bergeron and Rask were each honored with their own standing ovations during stoppages in the first period for reaching their own milestones (Bergeron, 1,000 games and Rask, 253 wins as a Bruins goaltender– a new franchise record, set on Sunday in Washington in a, 1-0, shutout against the Capitals).

Bruce Cassidy made no changes to the B’s lineup among his forwards, but switched up his defensive pairings– placing Zdeno Chara with Brandon Carlo, Torey Krug with Kevan Miller and Matt Grzelcyk alongside Charlie McAvoy.

For the second straight game, John Moore, Danton Heinen and Steven Kampfer were all healthy scratches for Boston.

Just 18 seconds into the action on Tuesday, David Backes sent the puck over the glass and out of the rink for an automatic delay of game penalty.

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

Almost midway through the first period, Brock Nelson hooked Carlo and the Bruins went on the power play for their first time in the game at 9:43.

Boston did not capitalize on their first skater advantage of the night, nor did they find a way to crack the code all night on the power play, as the B’s went 0/3 on the night after Ryan Pulock‘s slashing minor at 11:51 and Scott Mayfield‘s cross-checking infraction at 15:04.

Entering the first intermission, the game was still tied, 0-0, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 10-7, and in face-off win percentage (67-33). New York led in blocked shots (7-3) and takeaways (4-3) after 20 minutes of play.

Both teams had four giveaways each and nine hits aside, while the Islanders went 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/3.

Early in the 2nd period, Brad Marchand entered the attacking zone on a two-on-one with David Pastrnak heading to the net.

Marchand flipped a pass over to the 22-year-old Boston winger for the one-timer, but Lehner made the initial save. He also gave up a rebound.

While crashing the net, Bergeron (17) found the loose puck and buried it in the twine to give the B’s the lead, 1-0, at 2:32 of the second period.

Pastrnak (33) and Marchand (39) notched the assists as Marchand quickly skated after the puck and collected it for Bergeron’s mantle at home, having scored in his 1,000th game.

As a result of the goal, Pastrnak had been involved either directly by scoring or indirectly by assisting on eight straight goals for the Bruins, but fell shy of the team record of nine straight goals later in the game.

Anders Lee drew a string of a couple of penalties against Boston, first when Carlo tripped up Lee at 10:08, then again when Chris Wagner slashed the Islanders forward at 15:45 of the second period.

Almost a minute into the power play while Wagner was in the box, Jordan Eberle (12) squeaked a shot past Rask on the short side from about the goal line at 16:40 to tie the game, 1-1.

Mathew Barzal (32) and Nelson (16) had the assists on Eberle’s power play goal.

Both teams entered the dressing room for the 2nd intermission tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, but Boston led in shots on goal, 19-18, despite being outshot by New York, 11-9, in the middle frame alone.

The Isles led in takeaways (8-5), as well as giveaways (8-5), through two periods, while the B’s led in face-off win% (54-46). Both teams had 12 blocked shots and 17 hits each through 40 minutes of action.

Entering the third period, New York was 1/3 on the power play, while Boston remained 0/3.

Cal Clutterbuck thought he gave the Islanders their first lead of the night at 4:52 of the third period with snipe past Rask, however, Cassidy used his coach’s challenge wisely and sent the play to review.

After review, it was determined the Devon Toews and Clutterbuck connected on the play while offside, meaning the call on the ice was overturned and the Islanders hadn’t actually scored. No goal.

A couple minutes later, Cehlarik (3) followed up on a rebound and banked the puck off Lehner and in the net as the New York goaltender dove across the crease in desperation after turning aside the initial shot.

Miller (4) had the only assist on Cehlarik’s goal at 6:34 of the third period and the Bruins led, 2-1.

Past the midpoint of the final frame of regulation, Grzelcyk was charged with two minor penalties against Eberle– one for slashing and another for tripping– resulting in a rare four-minute power play for the Isles.

Rask and his penalty killers stood tall, limiting New York to just three shots on goal through the first half of the extended power play opportunity and successfully killing off Grzelcyk’s minors.

Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, pulled his goaltender with about 1:15 left in regulation for an extra attacker to try to tie the game, 2-2, but it just wasn’t written in the cards on an otherwise beautifully scripted night for Boston sports fans (the six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots were honored for their, 13-3, win in Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams and participated in a ceremonial puck drop prior to Tuesday night’s action).

Marchand sent a pass to Pastrnak as No. 88 broke free of the New York defenders and entered the attacking zone with an empty 4-by-6 frame in front of him and the chance to put the game away.

Instead, Pastrnak unselfishly looked behind himself and dropped the puck back to an approaching Bergeron (18) for his second goal of the game and the empty net goal that secured the, 3-1, victory for Boston at 19:05 of the third period.

Pastrnak (34) and Marchand (40) were tabbed with the assists on the goal.

With his second assist of the night, Marchand reached the 40-assist plateau for the third consecutive season as the usual scoring suspect for Boston has reshaped his game into scoring goals and being a playmaker.

At the final horn, the Bruins won, 3-1, and led in blocked shots (17-15) and hits (25-23) after 60 minutes of action. The Islanders led in shots on goal (29-27) and giveaways (15-9), while both teams were 50-50 in face-off win%.

New York finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while the B’s went 0/3.

In his last six games, Bergeron has 4-3–7 totals with 21 shots on goal and a plus-two rating. He ranks 5th in games played in franchise history behind Ray Bourque (1,518 games played in a Bruins sweater), Bucyk (1,436), current General Manager Don Sweeney (1,052) and Wayne Cashman (1,027).

Current teammate and captain, Chara is 6th in franchise history with 927 games played on the Boston blue line.

Bergeron is just the 5th player to reach 1,000 games played with the franchise and 12th player this season to reach the milestone. He has 307 goals and 473 assists (780 points) in that span.

Among the four major North American men’s professional leagues, only Tom Brady of the Patriots has played in more seasons in New England than Bergeron.

Brady’s 19 seasons tops the list among all four organizations with Bergeron (15) 2nd, Boston Red Sox player Dustin Pedroia 3rd (13) and Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart (5) rounding out the list.

Boston travels to Madison Square Garden for an 8 p.m. ET puck drop against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night before returning home for a 1:00 p.m. ET matinee matchup with the Los Angeles Kings and another afternoon battle with the Colorado Avalanche (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday in back-to-back games on back-to-back days.

The Bruins wrap up their short three-game homestand against the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Bergeron will be honored with a pregame ceremony prior to the game on Saturday against Los Angeles.