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DTFR Podcast #250- Is This The Leafs’ Year (To Get Out Of The First Round)?

Nick and Cam present cases for James Norris Memorial Trophy, Vezina Trophy and Calder Memorial Trophy finalists and predict how the rest of the 2022 First Round should go.

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DTFR Podcast #249- 2022 First Round Preview In Progress (Part 2)

Nick and Sean preview the Western Conference matchups in the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins drop season finale on the road, 5-2

William Nylander scored a pair of goals in a, 5-2, victory for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins Friday night at Scotiabank Arena.

Erik Källgren (8-4-1, 3.31 goals-against average, .888 save percentage in 14 games played) made 24 saves on 26 shots against in the win for the Leafs.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (23-24-3, 2.41 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 41 games played), stopped 22 out of 26 shots faced in the loss.

Boston finished the regular season with a 51-26-5 record (107 points)– good enough for 4th in the Atlantic Division and the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.

The B’s will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a result.

Toronto improved to 54-21-7 (115 points) overall and finished 2nd in the Atlantic Division. They will host the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2022 First Round.

The Bruins went 25-13-3 on the road and 0-3-0 against the Maple Leafs this season after going 2-0-1 against Toronto in 2019-20.

The two teams did not meet last season due to the temporarily realigned divisions in light of the ongoing COIVD-19 pandemic.

Boston’s list of injured players and healthy scratches got a bit of a shakeup heading into the final game of the regular season as Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) were joined by Hampus Lindholm, Patrice Bergeron, Matt Grzelcyk, Erik Haula, Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak among those held out of the lineup.

Zboril missed his 62nd game this season due to an injury sustained on Dec. 2nd in Nashville, while Hall missed his first game of the season as a healthy scratch.

As a result, Charlie Coyle was the only Bruin to suit up in all 82 games this season– marking the first time that anyone in a Boston uniform played in all 82 games in a full 82-game season since Pastrnak and Tim Schaller did so in 2017-18.

Since then, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shortened the 2019-20 regular season and kept 2020-21 limited to 56 games.

Chris Wagner made his season debut on Friday after being recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) with Jack Studnicka, Oskar Steen and Jack Ahcan to fill in for the regulars.

Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, opted to keep Trent Frederic, Coyle and Craig Smith together on the same line, while he moved Jake DeBrusk to the second line left wing with Studnicka at center and Marc McLaughlin on right wing.

Curtis Lazar centered the third line with Nick Foligno and Steen on his wings, while Tomáš Nosek held the fourth line together– flanked by Anton Blidh and Wagner.

On defense, Ahcan was paired with Brandon Carlo on the first pairing, while Mike Reilly and Josh Brown comprised the second pairing with Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton in their regular roles filling out the bottom pair.

The Bruins struck first in quick fashion as Smith wrapped the puck around the back of the net and slipped a pass to Frederic (8) for the flub shot through Källgren’s five-hole.

Smith (19) and Coyle (28) tallied the assists on the goal and the B’s led, 1-0, at 1:10 of the first period.

Boston didn’t hold the lead for long, however as McLaughlin caught Mark Giordano with a high stick at 1:48 of the first period that was reviewed for an injury on the infraction– resulting in a four-minute double minor.

Toronto made it a little past the midpoint of the skater advantage before Giordano sent a shot towards the net that Ilya Mikheyev (21) tipped past Swayman to tie the game, 1-1, at 3:51.

Giordano (27) and Timothy Liljegren (18) notched the assists on Mikheyev’s power-play goal.

Midway through the opening frame, William Nylander (33) got a breakaway and buried the puck in the twine on a forehand tuck after pulling Swayman to the right side of the crease.

Nylander’s goal was unassisted and gave the Maple Leafs their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 13:16 of the first period.

Late in the period, Morgan Rielly floated a shot towards Swayman that Nick Abruzzese (1) tipped for his first career National Hockey League goal.

Rielly (58) had the only assist on the goal as a result and the Leafs extended their lead to two goals at 19:52.

After one period, Toronto led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 10-6, in shots on goal.

The Maple Leafs also led in blocked shots (10-2) and takeaways (2-0), while the Bruins held the advantage in giveaways (4-3), hits (20-15) and faceoff win percentage (56-44) entering the first intermission.

The Leafs were 1-for-2 on the power play, while Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

DeBrusk went hard into the boards early in the second period, but skated off on his own power and sat on the bench until his next shift without much discomfort despite play briefly coming to a stop while he laid on the ice.

Late in the period, Foligno tripped Wayne Simmonds and presented the Leafs with a power play at 14:49 of the second period, but Toronto failed to convert on the skater advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Nosek cross checked Liljegren and became entangled in a quick exchange of pleasantries with Rielly– resulting in minor infractions for both Nosek and Rielly for cross checking and roughing, respectively at 19:30.

The two clubs skated at 4-on-4 into the third period as a result.

Through 40 minutes of action Friday night, the Maple Leafs led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 20-15, in shots on goal– including a, 10-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Toronto also maintained control in blocked shots (11-5), takeaways (8-3) and giveaways (8-7), while Boston led in hits (45-27) and faceoff win% (53-47).

The Leafs were 1-for-3 and the Bruins were 0-for-0 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Nylander (34) collected his second goal of the night on a similar backhand-forehand effort from his first goal of the game and the Maple Leafs grabbed a, 4-1, lead at 8:00 of the third period.

Moments later, Foligno thought he had his 500th career NHL point by scoring a would-be goal on the doorstep, but Toronto’s head coach, Sheldon Keefe, challenged the call on the ice on the basis that he believed Boston was offside entering the zone prior to the goal.

Upon video review, it was determined that Lazar had gone over the blue line into the attacking zone before Steen broke the plane for a zone entry, rendering the call on the ice reversed. No goal.

Toronto still led, 4-1, and Foligno will have to wait until next season for his 500th point.

Shortly thereafter, T.J. Brodie cut a rut to the box for holding and Boston went on the power play for the first time at 11:55.

Smith sent a shot on goal that DeBrusk (25) buried on the rebound past Källgren’s short side to give the Bruins their third power-play goal in their last two games.

Boston trailed, 4-2, while Smith (20) and Reilly (13) picked up the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 12:49 of the third period.

With about a minute left in the action, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker, but the B’s weren’t able to muster any last-minute comeback efforts.

Pierre Engvall (15) capitalized on a turnover and buried the rubber biscuit in the empty twine for an empty net goal in addition to a three-goal lead at 19:50 of the third period.

Engvall’s goal was unassisted and the Leafs finished their season with a, 5-2, victory on home ice.

At the final horn, Toronto had won and wrapped things up leading in shots on goal, 27-26, despite trailing, 11-7, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Maple Leafs finished the night leading in blocked shots (13-8) and giveaways (13-11), while the Bruins exited the ice with the advantage in hits (54-48) and faceoff win% (53-47).

The Leafs went 1-for-3 on the power play, while the B’s went 1-for-1 on the skater advantage Friday night.

Boston fell to 37-10-2 (19-5-1 on the road) when scoring first, 6-15-2 (2-8-1 on the road) when trailing after one and 4-20-2 (1-9-1 on the road) when trailing after two this season.

Toronto improved to 19-15-4 (13-7-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 29-3-3 (17-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 40-1-3 (23-1-0 at home) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

With the 2021-22 regular season in the rearview mirror, the Bruins look ahead to the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and their First Round matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Games 1 and 2 will be at PNC Arena in Raleigh.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #247- Featuring Credits (feat. Jess Belmosto, Cat Silverman, Jessica Lindsey & Chris Gere)

Featuring Andrew Ladd talk, Arizona Coyotes talk, goalie talk, Calgary Flames talk, Frank J. Selke Trophy talk, Hart Memorial Trophy talk, James Norris Memorial Trophy talk and “Off the Cuff”.

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DTFR Podcast #246- Depth Chart Depth (feat. Sean Reilly)

Sean returns to the program to talk about the Boston Bruins, a plethora of injuries around the league, Doug Wilson, the Western Conference wild card race, Mike Bossy and more including an all-new segment where Sean flips the script and asks Nick stuff.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins’, 2-1, victory clinches playoff berth for sixth-straight season

The Boston Bruins are officially heading to the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs after securing a, 2-1, win against the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

Erik Haula’s first period goal proved to be the game-winner, while Jeremy Swayman (21-12-3, 2.34 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 37 games played) had a quality start with 23 saves in 24 shots faced en route to the victory for Boston.

Pittsburgh netminder, Casey DeSmith (8-5-5, 2.89 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 22 games played) turned aside 27 out of 29 shots against in the loss.

The Penguins were without their usual starting goaltender, Tristan Jarry– who is out week-to-week with a lower body injury– and center, Evgeni Malkin, who is serving a four-game suspension for cross-checking Nashville Predators defender, Mark Borowiecki, in last Sunday’s, 3-2, overtime win at PPG Paints Arena.

Pittsburgh fell to 43-23-11 (97 points) on the season, but the Pens are still in command of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division as they are currently five points ahead of the Washington Capitals (41-23-10, 92 points).

The Penguins clinched a playoff spot after Thursday night’s, 6-3, win against the New York Islanders.

Boston improved to 46-24-5 (97 points) overall and clinched their sixth-consecutive Stanley Cup playoff berth (75th overall in 98 seasons) as a result of Saturday’s win.

The Bruins are in command of the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and trail the Toronto Maple Leafs (48-20-6, 102 points) by five points for home ice in at least the 2022 First Round, as well as the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-21-8, 98 points) by one point for a divisional playoff spot.

Boston has played in 75 games this season, while Toronto and Tampa have each played in 74 games at the time of this writing (both teams are in action Saturday night as the Leafs visit the Ottawa Senators, while the Lightning host the Winnipeg Jets).

The B’s improved to 1-1-0 against Pittsburgh this season with one game remaining in their regular season series Thursday night (April 21st) at PPG Paints Arena.

Boston went 5-3-0 against the Penguins last season and 2-1-0 in 2019-20.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), David Pastrnak (undisclosed), Hampus Lindholm (lower body) and Linus Ullmark (upper body) on Saturday, while Brandon Carlo returned to action from an undisclosed injury sustained on April 12th against St. Louis.

Bruce Cassidy made a few changes to his lineup as a result.

The only chance among forwards involved replacing Tomáš Nosek with Trent Frederic on the third line left wing. Frederic had been a healthy scratch in Thursday night’s, 3-2, loss to the Senators.

Nosek served as a healthy scratch Saturday as a result.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk suited up alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while Mike Reilly and Carlo rounded out the top-four defenders.

Derek Forbort participated in his 400th career NHL game on the third pairing alongside Connor Clifton.

With Ullmark out of the lineup due to an injury, Troy Grosenick was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Friday to serve as Swayman’s backup against Pittsburgh.

Cassidy told reporters prior to the game that Ullmark will be out until at least Monday, while Pastrnak and Lindholm skated on their own prior to the matchup with the Penguins (not in warmup).

Jack Studnicka, Josh Brown, Jack Ahcan and Anton Blidh joined Nosek on the list of healthy scratches for the B’s on Saturday.

Less than a minute into the opening frame, Craig Smith sent a shot off of DeSmith’s right shoulder that rebounded to the slot where Frederic (6) beat John Marino to the loose puck and collected the garbage while crashing the net to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead 49 seconds into the afternoon.

Smith (17) had the only assist on Frederic’s goal.

Boston extended their lead to two-goals when Haula (15) sent a pass to the slot intended for Taylor Hall, but the puck deflected off of Marcus Pettersson’s skates and into the twine instead.

Reilly (12) had the only assist on Haula’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0, at 2:01 of the first period.

Late in the opening frame, Mike Matheson cut a rut to the penalty box for holding at 15:30, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play and fell to 0-for-24 (0-for-19 without Pastrnak) on the skater advantage in their last six games.

Heading into the first intermission, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-6, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (4-1), hits (7-5) and faceoff win percentage (52-48), while Pittsburgh led in takeaways (1-0) after the first period.

The two clubs had three giveaways each entering the middle frame, while the Bruins were 0-for-1 on the power play and the Penguins had yet to see time on the skater advantage Saturday.

Danton Heinen (17) continued his revenge tour against Boston with a shot that fluttered and floated its way over Swayman’s glove side and into the back of the net– cutting the Bruins’ lead in half, 2-1, in the process.

Teddy Blueger (16) and Brock McGinn (8) tallied the assists on Heinen’s goal at 5:38 of the second period as Heinen set a new career-high in goals in 71 games– surpassing his previous career-best (16 goals in 77 games) set in 2017-18 with Boston.

Minutes later, Nick Foligno hooked Jake Guentzel and cut a rut to the sin bin at 9:33, but the Penguins were unable to convert on the ensuing power play.

Pittsburgh’s second chance on the skater advantage went by the wayside when McAvoy tripped Sidney Crosby at 11:44 as both teams struggled to get things going on the power play.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s held a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard despite being outshot by the Pens, 9-5, in the second period alone.

Boston held the advantage in total shots on goal, however, 16-15, and led in blocked shots (8-3), while Pittsburgh led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (5-3), hits (9-8) and faceoff win% (53-47).

The Penguins were 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0-for-1 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Crosby slashed Frederic at 4:52 of the third period and presented Boston with their final power play opportunity of the night, but the B’s failed to convert on the skater advantage– falling to 0-for-25 on the power play in their last six games as a result.

A few minutes later, Reilly tripped Crosby at 7:09 of the third period and the Penguins went on the power play.

Pittsburgh failed to get anything going on the advantage, however.

With 2:06 remaining in the action, Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

Despite using their timeout after a stoppage with 1:14 left in the game, the Pens couldn’t force overtime as the seconds ticked down and Curtis Lazar went for a casual skate down the length of the ice killing time and keeping the puck out of his own zone so Boston could get one last line change on the ice.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 2-1, and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 29-24, including a, 13-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The B’s left their own ice leading in blocked shots (10-6), while the Penguins left TD Garden leading in giveaways (8-3), hits (12-9) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Pittsburgh went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Boston went 0-for-2 on the skater advantage Saturday afternoon.

For the 14th time in 16 years, the Bruins clinched a playoff berth, while the Penguins fell to 2-5-1 in their last eight games.

The B’s improved to 34-9-2 (16-5-1 at home) when scoring first, 26-5-1 (13-3-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 29-1-3 (13-1-1 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

Pittsburgh fell to 11-18-8 (6-9-4 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-10-5 (3-6-3 on the road) when trailing after one and 5-19-3 (2-9-2 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins hit the road for a pair of games in St. Louis and Pittsburgh next Tuesday (April 19th) and Thursday (April 21st), respectively, before returning home to host the New York Rangers next Saturday (April 23rd) on ABC.

Boston heads to Montréal on April 24th before hosting Florida (April 26th) and Buffalo (April 28th) prior to their regular season finale in Toronto on April 29th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Caps pick up their third win in a row in, 4-2, victory against Boston

Don’t look now, Pittsburgh Penguins fans, but the Washington Capitals keep closing in on a Metropolitan Division playoff spot after their, 4-2, win against the Boston Bruins Sunday afternoon at Capital One Arena.

By the time the Penguins were taking on the Nashville Predators Sunday afternoon, Washington pulled to within two points behind Pittsburgh for 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Meanwhile, Lars Eller’s lucky deflection off of a Bruins forward’s stick and into the twine proved to be the game-winning goal in the third period of the Capitals’ victory.

Vitek Vanecek (18-11-5, 2.58 goals-against average, .912 save percentage in 37 games played) made 28 saves on 30 shots against in the win for Washington on Sunday.

Boston goaltender, Linus Ullmark (23-10-2, 2.59 goals-against average, .912 save percentage in 37 games played) stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 45-22-5 (95 points) on the season and remain in command of 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Capitals improved to 40-22-10 (90 points) overall and sit 4th in the Metropolitan Division.

Washington holds onto the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference currently and will have two games in-hand on the Penguins after Pittsburgh’s game against Nashville.

The New York Islanders (75 points) and Columbus Blue Jackets (74 points) would need to win at least nine games in addition to a miracle in which either the Caps or Pens lose for the rest of the regular season to make the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Capitals are currently on a three-game winning streak.

The B’s, meanwhile, finished their regular season series 2-1-0 against Washington after going 4-2-2 against the Capitals in 2020-21 (and 1-1-1 in 2019-20).

Jakub Zboril (right ACL), David Pastrnak (undisclosed) and Hampus Lindholm (lower body) remained out of Boston’s lineup on Sunday afternoon, though both Pastrnak and Lindholm have resumed skating.

Bruce Cassidy made a few changes to the defensive core of his lineup against the Capitals.

First, he promoted Derek Forbort to the first pairing alongside Charlie McAvoy while relegating Mike Reilly to the left side of the third pairing.

Cassidy also scratched Connor Clifton and inserted Josh Brown in his place next to Reilly on the third pairing.

Jack Studnicka and Anton Blidh joined Clifton in the press box at Capital One Arena as Boston’s healthy scratches in Washington, D.C.

Midway through the opening frame, Trent Frederic thought he had the game’s first goal, but the on-ice officials waved it off immediately and ruled it no good as a result of a distinct kicking motion.

Upon an official review, the call on the ice was confirmed– no goal– and the score remained tied, 0-0, as Frederic had just enough of a follow through motion to indicate intent behind the kick rather than a deflection while coming to a glide.

A few minutes later, Nic Dowd caught Brown with a high stick and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the afternoon at 11:47 of the first period.

Boston couldn’t convert on the skater advantage, however.

Late in the period, the B’s had another chance on the power play go unconverted when Dmitry Orlov boarded Marc McLaughlin at 18:13.

Entering the first intermission, the teams remained tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 8-7.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-4) and faceoff win percentage (69-31), while Washington led in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (4-3) and hits (22-15) after 20 minutes of action.

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

John Carlson (14) gave Washington a, 1-0, lead at 4:11 of the second period when he blasted a shot from the point past Ullmark’s glove side while the B’s netminder was tied up with Evgeny Kuznetsov on the doorstep.

Conor Sheary (20) had the only assist on Carlson’s goal as the Caps jumped out first on the scoreboard early in the second period.

Less than a minute later, Eller cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking McAvoy at 4:46, but once more the Bruins’ power play went by the wayside as they couldn’t convert on the skater advantage.

Boston did, however, catch Washington in the vulnerable minute after special teams play when Nick Foligno received a pass from Tomáš Nosek in the attacking zone and drove to the net before wrapping the puck around Vanecek as the Capitals goaltender came out to play an aggressive angle.

Foligno snuck a pass behind Vanecek through the crease where Curtis Lazar (8) slipped the puck into the open twine to tie the game, 1-1, at 7:55 of the second period.

Foligno (10) had the only assist on the goal.

One minute later, the Bruins scored again to take their first and only lead of the afternoon, 2-1, when Erik Haula (14) received a pass from McAvoy and entered the zone before letting go of an old-fashioned slap shot off the post and into the net on the glove side.

McAvoy (44) had the only assist on Haula’s goal at 8:55 and Boston surged in momentum.

Moments later, the Bruins tweeted that Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) would not return to the afternoon’s action after sustaining an injury in the first period.

Then Tom Wilson (23) tied things up, 2-2, after slipping a rebound through Ullmark’s five-hole from the doorstep after Ullmark made the initial save on a shot by Eller.

Eller (15) and Anthony Mantha (8) had the assists on Wilson’s goal and the Capitals evened things up at 14:50 of the second period by a stroke of luck– being in the right place at the right time– a trend that would continue for the rest of the afternoon.

After two periods, the score was tied, 2-2, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 24-18, including a, 16-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (17-6) and faceoff win% (58-42), while Washington held the advantage in takeaways (8-3), giveaways (6-4) and hits (35-25).

Boston was 0/3 on the power play, while the Capitals still had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Trevor van Riemsdyk tripped Lazar at 2:55 of the third period, but Boston’s power play fell to 6-for-46 on their last 46 power plays as the B’s couldn’t muster anything past Washington’s penalty kill.

Almost midway through the third period, Eller (10) sent a shot off of Haula’s stick as the puck redirected and caught a piece of Ullmark’s right shoulder before hitting the twine under the bar to give the Capitals a, 3-2, lead at 7:18 of the third period.

Nick Jensen (14) had the only assist on Eller’s goal.

Midway through the third, Taylor Hall tripped T.J. Oshie and presented the Caps with their first power play of the afternoon at 10:43 of the third period.

Boston’s penalty kill stood tall, however, as Washington wasn’t able to score a power play goal while Hall was in the box– nor were they able to capitalize on Frederic’s hooking infraction at 15:18.

With 1:54 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker.

After a stoppage with 80 seconds left in the game, Cassidy used his timeout for one last potential rally.

Instead, in the dying seconds of the afternoon, Alex Ovechkin (45) whiffed on his first chance, but buried his second shot on the empty net after the two teams went end-to-end.

Kuznetsov (47) and Carlson (49) tallied the assists on Ovechkin’s empty netter at 19:58 and the Capitals led, 4-2.

At the final horn, Washington had won, 4-2, and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 33-30, including a, 15-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Caps left their own ice with the advantage in giveaways (6-5) and hits (45-39), while the Bruins left Capital One Arena leading in blocked shots (25-9) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Washington finished 0/2 on the power play, while Boston went 0/4 on the skater advantage in Sunday’s loss.

The B’s are now 15-6-2 (9-3-1 on the road) when tied after the first period, 12-14-3 (5-7-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal and 13-5-0 (6-4-0 on the road) when tied after the second period this season.

The Capitals improved to 11-7-4 (3-4-1 at home) when tied after one, 30-10-5 (14-5-2 at home) when scoring first and 13-2-2 (5-1-2 at home) when through two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins went 2-2-0 on their four-game road trip and return to TD Garden for a three-game homestand beginning Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues before the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins visit Boston on Thursday and Saturday (April 16th), respectively.

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NHL Nick's Net

Avalanche topple Bruins down the mountain in overtime

The Colorado Avalanche extended their franchise record 17-game home winning streak with a, 4-3, overtime victory over the Boston Bruins Wednesday night at Ball Arena.

Nathan MacKinnon suffered an upper body injury early in the action and was forced out of the game, while Darcy Kuemper (20-5-1, 2.64 goals-against average, .913 save percentage) made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the win for Colorado.

Boston goaltender, Linus Ullmark (14-5-1, 2.61 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 21 games played), stopped 37 out of 41 shots faced in the overtime loss.

The Bruins fell to 24-13-3 (51 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Avalanche retook the top spot out of all 32 teams in the National Hockey League with a 30-8-3 record (63 points in 41 games) and two games in hand over the Florida Panthers (29-9-5 in 43 games played).

Colorado continues to lead the Central Division by six points over the Nashville Predators.

Due to the ongoing pandemic’s effects on the NHL’s scheduling for the last couple of years, the B’s and Avs met for the first time Wednesday night since Dec. 7, 2019, when the Avalanche beat the Bruins, 4-1, at TD Garden.

Nick Foligno (upper body) joined Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Trent Frederic (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) on the list of Bruins players out of the lineup Wednesday night in Colorado due to various injuries.

Though John Moore returned to practice the other day, he was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Tuesday prior to Boston’s flight to Denver.

Anton Blidh returned to action for the B’s and was placed on the fourth line in Foligno’s vacated spot.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup against the Avalanche.

Boston’s short list of healthy scratches on Wednesday included Steven Fogarty, Troy Grosenick, Jesper Frödén and Tyler Lewington as the trio remain on the taxi squad for the Bruins.

Taylor Hall delivered an open ice hit on MacKinnon that caused MacKinnon’s stick to ricochet into his own face– leaving the Avalanche’s top star bloodied and lying on the ice 2:22 into the first period.

Hall was initially assessed a five-minute major on the play, but the on-ice officials reviewed and rescinded the major penalty in favor of a two-minute minor for interference on account of Hall leading with the shoulder and MacKinnon’s own stick doing the utmost damage on an unfortunate result to an otherwise clean hit.

Colorado did not score on the ensuing power play.

A few minutes later, Kurtis MacDermid cut a rut to the penalty box for cross checking against Brad Marchand at 5:29, but the Bruins weren’t successful on the ensuing skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Andre Burakovsky set up MacDermid (1) at the point for a wrist shot off the post and into the back of the twine for his first goal of the season, as well as his first goal as a member of the Avalanche– having been selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft and subsequently traded to Colorado in July.

Burakovsky (19) and Valeri Nichuskin (9) tallied the assists as the Avalanche jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 11:25 of the first period.

Momentum was fully on Colorado’s side.

About a minute later, Charlie McAvoy’s stick was apparently close enough to Gabriel Landeskog’s skates as the Avs captain went down and yielded an infraction against No. 73 in black and gold.

Colorado went on the power play once again at 12:52, but wasn’t able to convert on the advantage with Boston’s best defender in the box.

With less than a minute remaining in the opening frame, the Avs botched a line change and were charged with too many skaters on the ice at 19:42.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel served the bench minor as Boston’s power play would extend into the middle frame.

Through 20 minutes of action, Colorado led, 1-0, on the scoreboard despite trailing Boston, 13-8, in shots on goal.

The Avalanche led in giveaways (2-1), while the Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (8-0), takeaways (4-3), hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (75-25).

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Colorado announced that MacKinnon would not return to the night’s action with an upper body injury just as the second period was getting underway.

As such, Landeskog proceeded to give Hall a hard time on the ice– holding up the Boston forward near the benches and finishing his checks to the disappointment of those in Ball Arena that were wanting more bloodshed as the gloves remained firmly on the hands of each player.

Though, it could be argued that revenge is best served on the scoreboard– a lesson clearly learned by the Avalanche after trying to entice Bruins skaters into exchanging fisticuffs and falling behind in the second period only to force overtime and win the game after a dominant display in the third period.

Stick to your game (especially if it’s good enough to lead the league).

Anyway, after a stoppage in play early in the second period, Blidh and Tyson Jost exchanged pleasantries an received roughing minors at 5:52.

The two teams would skate at 4-on-4 for a pair of minutes, which gave Jake DeBrusk (7) just enough ice late in the 4-on-4 action to rush up the ice and snipe a shot under Kuemper’s blocker side into the upper corner of the net.

DeBrusk tied the game, 1-1, while McAvoy (20) tallied the only assist on the goal at 7:10 of the second period.

A few minutes later, Burakovsky tripped up DeBrusk– and after the Avalanche gained possession to initiate the delayed call– Oskar Steen and Samuel Girard followed Burakovsky to their respective penalty benches as the two skaters received roughing minors.

All three penalties were dictated at 10:29 of the second period and resulted in a power play for Boston.

A minute later, Erik Johnson tried getting his point across by delivering three swift cross checks to Hall’s back, but the on-ice officials felt it was perhaps a bit much.

Johnson skated over to the sin bin with a minor for cross checking at 11:29, resulting in a minute of 5-on-3 action for the Bruins before a regular abbreviated power play.

Shortly before Burakovsky rejoined the ice, McAvoy sent a shot that rebounded off Kuemper to Charlie Coyle (10) in the right place at the right time for a backhand shot from the doorstep– giving Boston the lead in the process, 2-1.

McAvoy (21) and Patrice Bergeron (21) notched the assists on Coyle’s power-play goal at 12:16 of the second period.

Shortly before the time expired on Johnson’s minor, J.T. Compher missed the net on a breakaway at the other end of the ice before David Pastrnak rushed up the ice with Marchand.

Pastrnak dropped it back to Marchand (21) for a wrist shot that sailed over Kuemper’s glove into the far side of the net– giving the Bruins a two-goal lead as a result.

Pastrnak (18) had the only assist on Marchand’s power-play goal and the B’s led, 3-1, at 13:31.

After scoring two goals in a span of 1:15, the Bruins wouldn’t hit the back of the net for the rest of the night.

Late in the period, Tomáš Nosek interfered with Nazem Kadri behind the net and put Colorado on the power play as a result at 15:33.

The Avalanche, however, remained powerless on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.

Boston led, 3-1, on the scoreboard despite trailing, 30-25, in shots on goal after two periods.

Both teams managed to amass 12 shots each in the second period alone, while the Bruins continued to dominate in blocked shots (11-3), takeaways (5-3) and faceoff win% (67-33).

Colorado, however, led in giveaways (5-3) and hits (19-15) through 40 minutes.

The Avs were 0/3, while the B’s were 1/4 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Midway through the final frame, Girard (5) let go of a shot from the point that had eyes as it snaked its way through traffic and around the stick of his fellow teammate, Mikko Rantanen, into the twine behind Ullmark– pulling the Avalanche to within one and generating a shift in momentum at 11:46 of the third period.

Cale Makar (24) and Kadri (37) had the assists on the goal as the Avs trailed, 3-2, with plenty of time left to make things interesting.

With 2:33 remaining in regulation, Colorado head coach, Jared Bednar, pulled Kuemper for an extra attacker.

Bednar then used his timeout after a stoppage with 1:10 remaining in the action.

After an icing call was waved off, the Avalanche rushed into the attacking zone and worked the puck around Boston’s defensive end with relative ease– tiring the Bruins skaters that had been on the ice in the process.

Nichushkin sent a pass to Kadri, who setup Landeskog (16) with a saucer through the slot for the one-timer goal as Derek Forbort opted to try to block the shot instead of breakup the passing lane or get a stick on Landeskog’s stick.

Kadri (38) and Nichuskin (10) had the assists as Landeskog tied the game, 3-3, with the goalie pulled at 19:23 of the third period.

Ullmark couldn’t catch up– literally– as the Bruins goaltender dove across the crease glove first.

After regulation, the score was even, 3-3, despite the Avalanche amassing an, 18-7, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.

Colorado led in total shots on goal, 38-32, as well as in giveaways, 9-7, while Boston led in blocked shots (16-6), takeaways (6-4) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Both teams had 22 hits aside, while the Avs were 0/3 and the B’s were 1/4 on the power play heading into the extra frame.

Cassidy sent out Coyle, DeBrusk and McAvoy to start overtime, while Bednar countered with Landeskog, Rantanen and Makar.

Each team made at least one change on the fly before Mike Reilly tripped Nichuskin to breakup an otherwise high danger scoring opportunity for Colorado.

The Avalanche went on the 4-on-3 power play as a result at 1:14 of the overtime period and it proved to be costly for the Bruins.

Colorado toyed with Boston in the attacking zone before Kadri worked the puck over to Makar (17) for the game-winning power-play goal from the point over Ullmark’s blocker on the short side at 3:01.

Kadri (39) and Landeskog (25) tallied the assists– completing a three-point night (0-3–3 totals) for Kadri as Makar’s goal gave the Avalanche a, 4-3, overtime victory and their 17th win at home since Nov. 11, 2020– extending the ongoing franchise record in the process.

Colorado finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-32, including a, 3-0, advantage in overtime alone.

The Avs also exited their own building leading in giveaways (9-4) and hits (24-23), while Boston left Ball Arena leading in blocked shots (21-5) and faceoff win% (58-42).

Both teams went 1/4 on the power play on Wednesday as Boston fell to 2-2 in overtime this season (3-3 past regulation overall), while Colorado improved to 4-3 in overtime, as well as 7-3 past regulation in 2021-22.

The last time the Bruins won in Denver was on Nov. 13, 2016, in a, 2-0, shutout victory for Tuukka Rask (21 saves). David Krejci had a goal and an assist, while Dominic Moore scored an empty net goal in the win.

Wednesday night didn’t exactly go Boston’s way like it did almost six years ago.

The Bruins are now 9-8-3 (3-3-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-8-2 (0-3-1 on the road) when trailing after one period and 16-1-1 (10-0-1 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Avalanche improved to 23-0-2 (14-0-1 at home) when scoring first, 18-0-0 (11-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 4-7-2 (4-2-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

Colorado became the first team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have five players or more with at least 40 points by the halfway point of their season as Kadri (16-39–55 totals), Rantanen (22-27–49), MacKinnon (9-34–43), Makar (17-24–41) and Landeskog (16-25–41) each have cleared the 40-point hurdle through 41 games for the Avalanche as a team.

The Bruins continue their three-game road trip (0-0-1) Friday night in Arizona with a matchup against the Coyotes before paying a visit to the Dallas Stars on Sunday.

Boston returns home to host the Seattle Kraken in their first-ever meeting on Feb. 1st.

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NHL Nick's Net

Hurricanes storm Bruins, 7-1, in road victory

Nearly 11 years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, Willie O’Ree was called up from the Québec Aces minor professional hockey team and suited up for the Boston Bruins at Montréal Forum in what became a, 3-0, shutout for the Bruins against the Montréal Canadiens on Jan. 18, 1958.

The next day, O’Ree read in the paper that he had been the first Black player in National Hockey League history.

He played in the following game with Boston, a 6-2, loss to Montréal in his Boston Garden debut before he was sent back to the minors for the remainder of the 1957-58 season.

In a, 3-2, win against the Canadiens on Jan. 1, 1961, at Boston Garden, O’Ree scored his first career NHL goal– the eventual game-winner at 10:07 of the third period.

In total, O’Ree amassed 14 points (four goals, ten assists) in 45 career NHL games with the Bruins from 1958-61– paving the way for many Black players since then while being subjected to the brunt of racial epithets from fans, players and coaches alike.

In some tragic sense, not much has changed within the culture of the sport and society at large.

No one is a product of their time. Ignorance, inequality and racism are always ignorance, inequality and racism.

O’Ree’s hero, Herb Carnegie, was never given a proper chance at making the NHL.

Carnegie received a similar sham of a tryout that the Boston Red Sox gave Robinson on April 16, 1945, only this time it was at training camp in a different sport with the New York Rangers in Sept. 1948– a little more than one year after Robinson first played for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

In 1998, O’Ree was hired by the NHL as a Diversity Ambassador, having given many speeches since to kids and adults alike– those that play the game, those that have played the game and anyone that will listen in-between.

In 2018, O’Ree was finally inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as a Builder.

Also in 2018, the NHL first presented the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, which is presented annually “to an individual who– through the game of hockey– has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society,” as voted on by a fan vote in combination with weighted votes from O’Ree himself, the NHL and the award’s presenting sponsor, MassMutual.

Fans can submit candidates every year before the field is narrowed to three finalists that are then voted on to select a winner.

O’Ree is also a member of the Order of Canada, has a statue in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and is awaiting the result of the Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act in the United States Congress on Wednesday.

Oh, and, one more thing, O’Ree played his entire professional career spanning from the 1950s through the 1970s legally blind in his right eye after sustaining an injury in Junior hockey.

On Tuesday night, 64 years to the day that he made his NHL debut with Boston, the Bruins retired O’Ree’s No. 22 in front of 17,850 fans in attendance at TD Garden prior to a, 7-1, loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

O’Ree became just the 12th player in franchise history to have his number retired, joining the likes of Eddie Shore (No. 2), Lionel Hitchman (No. 3), Bobby Orr (No. 4), “Dit” Clapper (No. 5), Phil Esposito (No. 7), Cam Neely (No. 8), John Bucyk (No. 9), Milt Schmidt (No. 15), Rick Middleton (No. 16), Terry O’Reilly (No. 24) and Ray Bourque (No. 77) in the rafters of TD Garden.

He read a speech from his home in San Diego, California via Zoom before former Bruin and current NHL on TNT analyst, Anson Carter, as well as members of the S.C.O.R.E. Boston Youth Hockey program raised O’Ree’s No. 22 banner to thunderous applause.

Now all that’s needed is another statue outside the building next to Orr’s “The Goal” in The Hub on Causeway.

Or maybe the City of Boston can put it next to City Hall near Bill Russell’s statue.

Tuesday night in Carolina’s, 7-1, victory, Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored a pair of goals while Jaccob Slavin and Tony DeAngelo each had four-point nights from the Hurricanes’ defense.

Frederik Andersen (20-6-0, 2.03 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in 26 games played) made 31 saves on 32 shots faced in the win for the Canes.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (1-1-0, 5.25 goals-against average, .821 save percentage in two games played) made seven saves on 12 shots against before being replaced after one period with his team trailing, 5-1– though in large part through no fault of his own for the lack of effort team-wide in the loss.

Linus Ullmark (13-5-0, 2.52 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 19 games played) made 20 saves on 22 shots in relief of Rask for no decision.

As a result of Tuesday night’s loss, the Bruins are 0-2-0 against the Hurricanes this season.

Boston fell to 22-12-2 (46 points) overall, but the B’s remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile, Carolina now sits atop the Metropolitan Division with a 26-8-2 record (54 points) thus far in 2021-22.

Connor Clifton and Matt Grzelcyk were back from the league’s COVID-19 protocol for Boston, while Mike Reilly was placed in the aforementioned protocol ahead of the game on Tuesday.

In addition to Reilly, the Bruins were also without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Nick Foligno (lower body), Trent Frederic (upper body) and John Moore (upper body) against Carolina.

With Clifton and Grzelcyk back, head coach Bruce Cassidy, adjusted his defensive pairing accordingly– partnering Grzelcyk with his usual suspect on the first defensive pairing alongside Charlie McAvoy, while Clifton went back to his third pairing role with Derek Forbort.

Urho Vaakanainen covered Reilly’s role on the second pair with Brandon Carlo.

On Monday, Karson Kuhlman, was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Kraken– signaling an end to his Bruins career as a result.

The 26-year-old undrafted forward made his NHL debut with Boston in the 2018-19 season and spent parts of four seasons with the B’s in 75 games, amassing 7-8–15 totals in that span.

On Tuesday, goaltender, Kyle Keyser, and forward, Steven Fogarty, were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) and assigned to Boston’s taxi squad.

Reilly, Frederic, Foligno, Moore, Fogarty, Tyler Lewington (the only healthy scratch), Zboril and Keyser were all out of the lineup against Carolina for one reason or another.

Less than four minutes into the action, Slavin sent a pass across the slot to Teuvo Teräväinen (11) for a one-timer goal on Rask’s glove side as the Bruins netminder was forced to sprawl across the crease.

Slavin (18) and DeAngelo (20) tallied the assists on Teräväinen’s goal and the Hurricanes jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 3:44 of the first period.

A little more than a couple of minutes later, Kotkaniemi (8) wrapped a rebound around Rask’s right leg pad from the doorstep to give Carolina a two-goal lead at 6:03 of the first period.

Andrei Svechnikov (17) and Nino Niederreiter (8) notched the assists as the Canes pulled ahead to a, 2-0, lead with a pair of goals in a span of 2:19.

Midway through the opening frame, Svechnikov was assessed an interference minor at 9:48, yielding the night’s first power play to the Bruins.

Boston took advantage of the ensuing skater advantage on a deflection goal from Patrice Bergeron (12) to cut Carolina’s lead in half, 2-1, at 11:13 of the first period.

David Pastrnak (16) recorded the primary assist with the no-look shot pass off of Bergeron’s skate and into the twine, while McAvoy (19) picked up the secondary assist.

Just 13 seconds later, Kotkaniemi (9) got a stick on a shot from the point by Slavin and deflected the rubber biscuit over Rask’s shoulder to give Carolina another two-goal lead, 3-1.

Slavin (19) and Derek Stepan (5) had the assists on Kotkaniemi’s second goal of the game at 11:26 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Clifton cut a rut to the sin bin for cross checking at 12:11, but the Hurricanes were not successful on the resulting power play– at least not yet on the night’s list of skater advantage opportunities.

Late in the opening frame, Seth Jarvis (7) waltzed around Clifton and crashed the net on an individual effort for an unassisted goal to give the Canes a, 4-1, lead at 16:01.

56 seconds after that, Stepan (5) scored a goal while crashing the slot as Jordan Martinook took a hit and freed the puck to his teammate in a high danger scoring area.

Martinook (6) had the only assist on Stepan’s goal as Carolina took a, 5-1, lead at 16:57 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Hurricanes had a, 5-1, lead on the scoreboard and a, 12-10, advantage in shots on goal as Boston had allowed five or more goals for the first time in any first period since March 3, 2008, when they gave up six goals to the Washington Capitals in a, 10-2, loss at the then known as Verizon Center.

Alex Ovechkin had a first period hat trick, Matt Bradley and Brooks Laich each had a pair of goals in that game, while all four dressed netminders made an appearance.

Tim Thomas got the start for Boston and was pulled twice after a brief relief appearance by Alex Auld, while Cristobal Huet started the game for the Capitals, but was yanked from the crease with back spasms and replaced by Olaf Kölzig.

Truly, it was the definition of insanity.

The Bruins had goals from Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm that night, if you’re wondering, while notorious enemy of the Commonwealth, Matt Cooke, opened the night’s scoring.

Meanwhile, Nicklas Bäckström and Donald Brashear also pocketed goals for the Capitals in that wild game from almost 14 years ago.

Back at TD Garden on Tuesday night, while losing, 5-1, after one period, the Bruins led in blocked shots (4-3) and giveaways (4-2) as the Hurricanes also maintained the advantage in takeaways (3-1), hits (13-12) and faceoff win percentage (52-48).

Carolina was 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 1/1 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

The second period was relatively tame as no goals were scored by either team and a string of penalties opened the ice for lots of skating.

Ullmark replaced Rask before the period began and Brendan Smith caught Craig Smith (no relation) with a high stick at 6:55.

Boston’s power play came up short, however, and would do so again at 10:38 when Sebastian Aho cut a rut for high sticking at 10:38 of the second period.

The Bruins also couldn’t score on an abbreviated 5-on-3 advantage at 11:30 when Ian Cole tripped up McAvoy.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Hurricanes still led, 5-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Boston, 23-20, in shots on goal as the Bruins rallied to outshoot Carolina, 13-8, in the second period alone.

The Canes led in blocked shots (13-5) and takeaways (12-2), while the B’s led in giveaways (7-3) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Both teams had 21 hits aside, while the Hurricanes were still 0/1 and the Bruins were now 1/4 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Vincent Trocheck cross checked Erik Haula 33 seconds into the third period, but Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short when McAvoy and Aho collided near the blue line by the Bruins’ attacking zone– resulting in an interference minor for No. 73 in black and gold at 1:13 of the final frame.

After 80 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Hurricanes went on an abbreviated power play, but it didn’t take them long for Slavin (2) to riffle a shot from inside the faceoff circle over Ullmark’s blocker on the short side to give Carolina a, 6-1, lead.

DeAngelo (21) and Teräväinen (19) tallied the assists on Slavin’s power-play goal at 3:05 of the third period and the Hurricanes had a five-goal lead as a result.

Haula later caught Slavin with a high stick at 6:04 and presented Carolina with another power play for good measure.

The Hurricanes got their money’s worth as Svechnikov (13) stayed aggressive on a loose puck in the slot and elevated the rubber biscuit over Ullmark as the Bruins goaltender was down.

Aho (23) and DeAngelo (22) notched the assists on Svechnikov’s power-play goal and Carolina continued to blow Boston out of their own building, 7-1, at 7:48 of the third period.

After that nothing else happened.

There were no more goals, nor penalties, as fans left TD Garden early either to make the trains out of North Station due to the later than usual start as a result of the night’s opening ceremonies or simply to avoid watching the seconds tick down while lackluster entertainment continued on the ice.

At the final horn, Carolina had won, 7-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 34-23, including a, 14-9, advantage in the third period– tied for the second-most shots allowed in any third period by Boston this season.

The Bruins had previously given up 14 shots against in the third period on Opening Night against the Dallas Stars in a, 3-1, win on Oct. 16th at TD Garden and gave up a season-worst 16 shots against in the third period alone twice within a span of a week apart– once on Dec. 2nd in a, 2-0, shutout win in Nashville and again on Dec. 9th in a, 3-2, win in Edmonton.

Tuesday night didn’t have the same end result for Boston, despite being badly outshot in the third period.

The Hurricanes exited the building with the all-important victory and led the night in blocked shots (16-9), while the Bruins left their own ice leading in giveaways (8-5) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams had 26 hits aside.

Carolina went 2/3 on the power play, while the B’s finished the night’s action 1/5 on the skater advantage.

Boston fell to 7-7-2 (4-4-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-7-1 (3-4-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-9-2 (3-5-1 at home) when trailing after the second period this season.

Carolina, meanwhile, improved to an impressive 17-2-1 (10-1-1 on the road) when scoring first, 15-1-0 (7-1-0 on the road) when leading after one and 17-1-1 (7-0-1 on the road) when leading after two in 2021-22.

The Bruins continue their seven-game homestand (3-1-0) against the Washington Capitals on Thursday before the Winnipeg Jets visit Boston on Saturday.

The B’s are currently scheduled to wrap things up at on this current homestand next Monday against the Anaheim Ducks before hitting the road for three games with stops in Colorado, Arizona and Dallas to close out the month of January– at least until the remaining condensed schedule is announced on Wednesday, that is.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Hall caps Bruins, 4-3, OT victory over Predators

The Boston Bruins have won eight out of their last nine games and knocked off the top team in the Western Conference with a, 4-3, overtime victory courtesy of Taylor Hall’s game-winning goal Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.

Boston jumped out to a two-goal lead early in the first period thanks to Craig Smith and Mike Reilly before Nashville tied things up midway through the second period.

Both teams swapped goals almost three minutes apart in the third period as regulation gave way to overtime.

Linus Ullmark (13-5-0, 2.51 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 18 games played) made 26 saves on 29 shots against in the win for the Bruins– extending their winning streak to five games (their longest of the season).

Predators goaltender, Juuse Saros (20-10-2, 2.35 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in 32 games played), stopped 40 out of 44 shots faced in the overtime loss.

The B’s improved to 22-11-2 (46 points) and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, while the Preds fell to 24-12-3 (51 points)– still leading the Central Division at the time of this writing.

Boston finished their season series 2-0-0 against Nashville, outscoring the Predators, 6-3, in that span.

Derek Forbort returned from the league’s COVID-19 protocol and was paired with Charlie McAvoy to start the afternoon, while Urho Vaakanainen was partered with Tyler Lewington on the third defensive pairing.

With Forbort back in the lineup, Jack Ahcan was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Nick Foligno (lower body), Connor Clifton (COVID protocol), Trent Frederic (upper body), John Moore (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (COVID protocol) remained out of the lineup on Saturday.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other adjustments from Thursday night’s, 3-2, win against Philadelphia to Saturday’s matinée with Nashville.

Karson Kuhlman was the only healthy scratch for Boston.

Brad Marchand skated into the attacking zone and sent a pass through the middle of the ice to Patrice Bergeron for a one-touch redirection pass over to Smith as Boston’s first line skated towards the net early in the opening frame.

Smith (5) sent a catch and release wrist shot over Saros’ glove on the short side– bar down– to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 3:20 of the first period.

Bergeron (18) and Marchand (23) tallied the assists on the goal.

Moments later, Erik Haula slipped a pass to Reilly (4) as the Bruins defender pinched in from the point and went to the net, holding the puck on his stick before sending a backhand shot over Saros’ leg pad and under the glove for a two-goal lead at 7:37.

Haula (9) and Hall (17) notched the assists on Reilly’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0, before the midpoint of the first period.

Late in the opening frame, Colton Sissons (5) riffled a shot from the high slot between the hash marks off of Ullmark’s arm on the blocker side and into the back of the twine.

Dante Fabbro (10) had the only assist as the Predators cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, at 14:30.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 10-6, while Nashville held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1) and faceoff win percentage (68-32).

Boston also led in his (19-14), but both teams split takeaways, 4-4, and giveaways, 4-4, as well.

Neither team had seen any action on the power play heading into the middle period.

Forbort and Michael McCarron exchanged pleasantries and dropped the gloves after a stoppage at 3:43 of the second period, resulting in the 11th fighting major for Boston this season.

Less than a minute later, Brandon Carlo was penalized for cross checking and presented the Predators with the first power play of the afternoon at 4:15 of the second period.

The Preds, however, couldn’t convert on the skater advantage.

Instead, Nashville pounced in the vulnerable minute after special teams play– tying the game, 2-2, at 7:32 of the second period thanks to a goal from Luke Kunin (8) outside the faceoff circle– beating Ullmark on the blocker side as Carlo may have inadvertently screened his own goaltender.

Nick Cousins (7) and Mark Borowiecki (2) had the assists on Kunin’s goal.

Through 40 minutes of action Saturday afternoon, the Bruins and Predators were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard despite Boston holding a, 28-17, advantage in shots on goal– including an, 18-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s controlled blocked shots (6-5) and hits (37-35) after two periods, while Nashville led in takeaways (6-5) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Both teams had six giveaways each, while only Nashville had witnessed any time on the power play and went 0/1 heading into the second intermission.

Tanner Jeannot hooked Forbort at 2:07 of the third period and yielded a power play to Boston for the first and only time Saturday afternoon as a result.

It didn’t take long for the Bruins to convert on the ensuing skater advantage as the B’s worked the puck around the attacking zone umbrella formation.

McAvoy sent a pass to Marchand along the wall before Marchand (20) unloaded a wrist shot off of Saros’ glove and into the top corner on the short side– giving No. 63 in black and gold his ninth consecutive season with at least 20 goals.

McAvoy (18) and Bergeron (19) were credited with the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 3-2, at 3:50 of the third period.

Boston didn’t hold onto the lead for long, however, as Nashville responded on the scoreboard 2:36 later with a goal from their captain.

David Pastrnak misplayed the puck along the boards in his own zone– botching a flip pass in the process to Roman Josi’s lucky fortune as Josi (13) ripped a shot off of Ullmark’s glove and into the twine– tying the game, 3-3, in the process.

Philip Tomasino (7) tallied the only assist on Josi’s goal at 6:26 of the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Marchand made a big hit behind Nashville’s net, sending Fabbro down the tunnel briefly, clutching his shoulder.

Minutes later, Vaakanainen got his stick in the wrong place at the wrong time as Matt Duchene went sailing (perhaps partially of his own effort to draw a penalty).

Nevertheless, Vaakanainen cut a rut to the penalty box for tripping at 13:34.

The Bruins managed to kill off the ensuing minor, however, giving them a bit of a momentum swing as the minutes ran off the clock.

After 60 minutes, Boston and Nashville were knotted up on the scoreboard, 3-3, despite the B’s holding a, 41-28, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 13-11, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins dominated in blocked shots (12-7), while the Predators led in takeaways (7-6), hits (46-44) and faceoff win% (60-40) after regulation.

Both teams had nine giveaways aside as the Preds finished the afternoon 0/2 on the power play and the B’s went 1/1 (as there were no penalties called in the overtime period).

Cassidy started Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy in the extra frame, while Predators head coach, John Hynes, matched with Ryan Johansen, Duchene and Josi.

Duchene rang the a shot attempt off the crossbar early in overtime before Jake DeBrusk had a breakaway going the other direction.

DeBrusk too, however, rang the iron on Saros’ right side before dialing down the effort on the loose puck in the crease and gliding away amidst the chaos.

Less than a minute later, Hall (8) scored while fighting and falling for another loose puck on the doorstep after Pastrnak ripped a shot on goal.

Pastrnak (15) and Vaakanainen (4) had the assists on Hall’s game-winning overtime goal and the Bruins took a, 4-3, victory on home ice against Nashville as a result at 1:41 of the overtime period.

Boston left their own building leading in shots on goal, 44-29– including a, 3-1, advantage in overtime alone– while also leading in blocked shots (12-8) on Saturday afternoon.

Nashville finished the game leading in hits (46-45) and faceoff win% (61-39), while both teams wrapped up the effort with nine giveaways each.

The Bruins improved to 2-1 in overtime (3-2 past regulation overall) this season and the Predators fell to 5-2 in overtime (6-3 past regulation overall) as a result.

Boston also improved to 15-5-0 (8-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 16-0-0 (8-0-0 at home) when leading after one period and 3-2-0 (3-1-0 at home) when tied after two periods in 2021-22.

Nashville fell to 5-10-2 (3-5-2 on the road) when allowing the first goal, 2-10-1 (1-4-1 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 4-3-2 (3-1-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bruins host the Carolina Hurricanes next Tuesday and will retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 prior to the game in a ceremony that is set to begin at 7 p.m. ET. O’Ree and his family will attend virtually from their home in San Diego.

On Jan. 18, 1958, O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier as the first Black player to suit up in a game.

Though he only played in 45 career games in parts of two seasons with the Bruins, O’Ree had 4-10–14 totals and played– unbeknownst to the team at the time– blind in his right eye after suffering an injury in Junior hockey.

O’Ree spent many years in the minor leagues before and after his Bruins tenure in a career that spanned from 1950-51 through 1978-79.

Gary Bettman was named NHL Commissioner in 1993, and five years later, named O’Ree as an NHL Diversity Ambassador in 1998.

Together, O’Ree and the NHL have brought the game to thousands of kids that might have otherwise never had the chance to play or learn from one of the greatest figures in league history.

In 2018, O’Ree was finally inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and the NHL created the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, which is presented annually to “an individual who– through the game of hockey– has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society.”

Each year, fans submit candidates for the award with O’Ree (joined by the league) in narrowing the field to three finalists.

The award winner is ultimately determined by a fan vote with weighted votes from O’Ree, the NHL and presenting sponsor, MassMutual.

After retiring O’Ree’s No. 22 and playing the Hurricanes next Tuesday, Boston will also host the Washington Capitals next Thursday and Winnipeg Jets next Saturday before the Anaheim Ducks swing through town before the B’s hit the road on Jan. 26th in Colorado.