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NHL Nick's Net Previews

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

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

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

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

Resiliency in life cannot be understated.

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

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

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

Our humanity goes on.

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

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

No, there are no heroes. Only people.

Even hockey players.

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

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

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

It’s time.

Let’s hockey together, friends.


Four teams in each division made the postseason.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Regular season outcomes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schedule:

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

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

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

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

5/24- Game 5 NYI @ PIT*

5/26- Game 6 PIT @ NYI*

5/28- Game 7 NYI @ PIT*

*If necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regular season outcomes:

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

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

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

5-1 BOS at TD Garden on March 5th

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

8-1 WSH at TD Garden on April 11th

6-3 BOS at TD Garden on April 18th

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

Schedule:

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

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

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

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

5/23- Game 5 BOS @ WSH*

5/25- Game 6 WSH @ BOS*

5/27- Game 7 BOS @ WSH*

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NHL Nick's Net

Devils down Bruins, 4-3, in overtime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NHL Nick's Net

Smith’s hat trick caps, 6-2, win for Boston over Buffalo

Craig Smith scored half of the goals in a, 6-2, win for the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, while Jeremy Swayman (6-2-0, 1.62 goals-against average, .942 save percentage in eight games played) made 17 saves on 19 shots against in the victory.

Smith’s hat trick was just his second career hat trick (previous, Feb. 13, 2020 with Nashville in, 5-0, win vs. N.Y. Islanders) and his first in a Bruins uniform.

Sabres goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-3-0, 3.89 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in four games played) stopped 26 out of 29 shots faced before sustaining a lower body injury at the end of the second period that kept him out of the final frame.

Luukkonen was replaced by Dustin Tokarski (2-8-2, 3.46 goals-against average, .904 save percentage in 13 games played) turned aside 11 out of 14 shots against for no decision in his relief appearance.

Boston improved to 30-14-6 (66 points) on the season and moved into 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division temporarily as the New York Islanders were in action against the New York Rangers later Saturday night at the time of this writing.

Buffalo fell to 13-32-7 (33 points) overall and remained in last place (8th) in the same division as the B’s finished 7-1-0 in their regular season series with the Sabres.

Boston was without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Brandon Carlo (oblique) on Saturday, though Carlo is expected to return to the lineup next week in New Jersey.

Chris Wagner and Trent Frederic were scratched in favor of Jake DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman, who served as Curtis Lazar’s wingers on the fourth line.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, promoted Nick Ritchie to the third line left wing with Sean Kuraly at center and Charlie Coyle on right wing, while Jaroslav Halak backed up Swayman– giving Tuukka Rask the afternoon off as the B’s navigate a three-goaltender rotation.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk was paired with Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing with Mike Reilly alongside Kevan Miller and Jeremy Lauzon with Connor Clifton to round out the blue line.

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

Later this month (May 10th), limited seating capacity at TD Garden will increase to 25% (up from 12%) in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans.

Smith (11) opened the scoring at 1:21 of the first period on a redirected shot pass from David Krejci while on the doorstep to make it, 1-0, Boston.

Krejci (27) and Taylor Hall (21) had the assists as the Bruins struck first for the ninth time in their last 10 games.

Midway through the opening frame, Riley Sheahan was penalized for holding, presenting the afternoon’s first power play to Boston at 10:28.

The Bruins had one second of a 5-on-3 advantage when Mattias Samuelsson tripped Coyle at 12:27, but the B’s power play was powerless as Buffalo’s penalty kill converted on a shorthanded goal off the ensuing faceoff.

As Sheahan (4) was freed from the box, Jacob Bryson connected with his teammate on a tape-to-tape pass, leading No. 15 for the Sabres into the attacking zone on a breakaway before he fired a shot past Swayman on the short side– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

It was the sixth shorthanded goal against allowed by Boston this season, while Bryson (7) and Casey Mittelstadt (10) tallied the assists on Sheahan’s fourth goal of the season at 12:35 of the first period.

Moments later, Kuraly (3) golfed a loose puck into the back of the twine after Ritchie’s initial shot was blocked by a Sabres defender.

Ritchie (11) had the only assist on Kuraly’s first goal in 31 games at 16:38 and the Bruins led, 2-1.

After one period on Saturday, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 17-4, in shots on goal. The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1), takeaways (3-2), hits (12-8) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams had five giveaways each, while only the B’s had seen any action on the power play– and were 0/2 in that regard– heading into the first intermission.

Lauzon threw a shot towards the goal that Patrice Bergeron (19) deflected, then backhanded a tap-in on his own rebound past Luukkonen while falling to give Boston a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 5:36 of the second period.

Lauzon (7) and Brad Marchand (34) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal.

A few minutes later, Kuraly slashed Bryson and cut a rut to the penalty box, presenting the Sabres with their first power play of the afternoon at 8:34 of the second period.

The B’s penalty kill stood tall as Buffalo’s power play units could not capitalize on the skater advantage.

Dylan Cozens was sent to the sin bin for slashing Miller at 19:09, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play, despite several zone entries.

Meanwhile, Luukkonen made a save late in the period, then struggled to get up and was helped off as the horn sounded to signal the start of the second intermission.

He did not return to Saturday afternoon’s action and was replaced by Tokarski for the third period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 29-11, in shots on goal, including a, 12-7, advantage in the second period alone.

The Sabres led in giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (7-5) and hits (23-19).

Each squad had six takeaways apiece, while Buffalo was 0/1 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Ritchie (13) deflected a shot from the point by Grzelcyk over Tokarski to give Boston a three-goal lead, 4-1, at 3:18 of the third period.

Grzelcyk (12) and Miller (3) had the assists on Ritchie’s goal as the Bruins winger picked up his second point of the afternoon.

Shortly thereafter, Reilly worked the puck deep into the zone before sending a quick pass from behind the goal line to Smith (12) for the redirection goal– his second of the game– that made it, 5-1, Boston.

Reilly (25) and Krejci (28) notched the assists on Smith’s goal at 5:31 of the third period, giving the Bruins back-to-back goals in a span of 2:13.

Less than two minutes later, Arttu Ruotsalainen (5) scored on a rebound from the doorstep through Swayman’s five-hole to cut Boston’s lead to three goals.

Rasmus Asplund (4) and Mittelstadt (11) had the assists on Ruotsalainen’s goal as the Sabres trailed the Bruins, 5-2, at 7:02 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Rasmus Dahlin cross checked David Pastrnak and delivered a swift cross check to Marchand thereafter, though only the initial cross check on Pastrnak was called as a scrum ensued between both lines on the ice at 7:45.

Marchand and Pastrnak received roughing minors, thereby giving the Sabres a power play, despite losing Dahlin to a cross checking infraction.

Buffalo’s power play was unsuccessful, however.

Midway through the third period, William Borgen was penalized for interference at 13:39.

It didn’t take Boston’s power play long for Smith (13) to send another redirected shot pass into the twine behind Tokarski for a power-play goal to extend the lead back to four goals for the B’s.

Krejci (29) and Coyle (11) tabbed the assists on Smith’s third goal of the afternoon and the Bruins led, 6-2, at 14:05 of the third period.

According to 98.5 The Sports Hub‘s Bruins beat reporter, Ty Anderson, Smith’s hat trick was the first for a player not named Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak or Krejci since Jimmy Hayes recorded a hat trick in a, 7-3, win against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 29, 2015.

At the final horn, the B’s sealed the deal on a, 6-2, victory over the Sabres, finishing the afternoon leading in shots (43-19, including a, 14-8, advantage in the third period alone), blocked shots (8-7) and hits (31-25).

Buffalo wrapped up Saturday afternoon, leading in giveaways (10-7) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Sabres went 0/2 and the Bruins went 1/4 on the power play.

Boston is now 22-5-3 (11-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 18-0-2 (9-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 21-0-2 (13-0-2 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

The Sabres fell to 6-27-2 (3-12-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-21-0 (2-9-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 1-27-2 (0-12-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

Next week, the Bruins travel to New Jersey for back-to-back games against the Devils on Monday and Tuesday before hosting the New York Rangers on Thursday and Saturday.

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

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NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NHL Nick's Net

Rask reaches 300 in, 4-1, win over Islanders

Tuukka Rask is the first Boston Bruins goaltender in franchise history to reach 300 wins with the franchise thanks to Brad Marchand’s pair of goals in Boston’s, 4-1, win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden on Thursday.

Craig Smith and Taylor Hall each had a goal for the Bruins in the action as Hall notched his first with Boston early in the third period in just his second game with the B’s since being traded by the Buffalo Sabres ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.

Newcomer, Mike Reilly, had an assist in the 60-minute effort, as well, marking his first point with the Bruins in his second game since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators on April 11th.

Travis Zajac had the only goal for the Islanders in what was his fourth game with the club since New York acquired him and teammate Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils on April 7th.

Rask (9-4-2, 2.32 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 16 games played) made 22 saves on 23 shots against for a .957 save percentage in the win for Boston.

It was also his first start since March 25th, when he left the game after one period against New York due to an injury.

Isles netminder, Semyon Varlamov (16-9-3, 2.24 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 29 games played) stopped 41 out of 44 shots faced for a .932 save percentage in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 23-12-6 (52 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Islanders fell to 27-12-4 (58 points) overall and stuck in 2nd place in the division.

The B’s also improved to 1-3-2 against New York this season.

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

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes among his forwards, but with Miller out to do something unrelated to his recent knee injury, Jakub Zboril and Steven Kampfer were re-inserted in the lineup, while Miller and Jarred Tinordi came out.

Jeremy Lauzon and Charlie McAvoy retained their status on the first defensive pairing, while Reilly and Connor Clifton filled out the top-four defender roles.

Zboril and Kampfer were given third pairing minutes.

Jeremy Swayman served as Rask’s backup on Thursday and will get the start against the Islanders on Friday, Cassidy informed reporters after Boston’s, 4-1, win Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Jack Ahcan, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Tinordi and Miller were all on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or players out due to injury for the Bruins on Thursday.

Dan Vladar was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday with Rask returning to health.

Boston got off to a quick start thanks to Patrice Bergeron’s shot that deflected off of Marchand’s back and appeared to hit the crossbar before play continued.

After a quick stoppage, it was determined, in fact, that the puck had crossed the goal line, rendering Marchand (20) with a goal and the Bruins with a, 1-0, lead at 1:59 of the first period.

Bergeron (20) and Reilly (20) tallied the assists on the goal.

The goal marked Marchand’s eighth consecutive season with at least 20 goals and 10 out of the last 11 seasons that Marchand has reached the 20-goal plateau. He is just the fourth Bruin in franchise history to record 10 or more 20-goal seasons with the club.

Moments later, Scott Mayfield cross checked David Pastrnak and was sent to the penalty box as a result at 5:07, presenting Boston with their first power play of the game in the process.

The Bruins, however, were not able to convert on the resulting skater advantage.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Josh Bailey tripped Zboril and presented the B’s with another power play at 8:59, but New York’s penalty kill stood tall and killed off Bailey’s minor.

Shortly thereafter, Charlie Coyle tripped Brock Nelson and cut a rut to the sin bin at 13:45.

The Islanders weren’t on the power play for long as Nelson caught Reilly with a high stick and drew blood, yielding a four-minute double minor infraction at 14:49.

The two teams had 56 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins had an extended power play.

Late in the power play, Boston’s second unit got to work generating shot attempt after shot attempt until Smith (10) rocketed a one-timer from the bumper past Varlamov low on the blocker side to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

David Krejci (22) and McAvoy (19) had the assists on Smith’s power-play goal and Boston led, 2-0, at 17:55 of the first period.

Heading into the first intermission, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 23-7, in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in faceoff win percentage (55-45), while the Islanders held the advantage in blocked shots (8-2) and hits (10-9). Both teams had two takeaways and three giveaways aside after one period.

New York was 0/1 and Boston was 1/4 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Zajac (8) cut Boston’s lead in half when Marchand turned the puck over in his own zone, leading Zajac to score on the short side while the Islanders forward stood wide open due to a lack of defensive coverage.

Mathew Barzal (25) and Jordan Eberle (14) notched the assists on Zajac’s goal and the Isles trailed Boston, 2-1, at 2:56 of the second period.

Almost midway through the middle period, Krejci hooked Nick Leddy and presented the Islanders with another power play at 9:54, but New York couldn’t capitalize on the resulting skater advantage.

Late in the period Boston got another crack at the power play thanks to Cal Clutterbuck’s high sticking minor at 15:25, but the B’s didn’t convert on the advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 35-18, in shots on goal, including a, 12-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in takeaways (6-5), while the Islanders led in blocked shots (17-6), giveaways (9-7), hits (17-15) and faceoff win% (51-49) after two periods.

New York was 0/2 and Boston was 1/5 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Hall (3) kicked off the third period with a breakaway goal sent through Varlamov’s five-hole to give Boston a, 3-1, lead, while Pastrnak (17) had the only assist on Hall’s first goal as a Bruin at 1:52 of the third period.

With 2:32 remaining in regulation, Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, pulled Varlamov for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Pastrnak kept the rubber biscuit in the attacking zone and battled in a scrum to retain possession before working the puck to Marchand (21) for an empty net goal.

Pastrnak (18) had the only assist on Marchand’s second goal of the game at 18:24.

Less than a minute later, Zboril took a holding penalty at 18:41, but the Islanders couldn’t convert on the skater advantage as the power play came to an end with the sound of the final horn.

Boston had won, 4-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 45-23, including a, 10-5, advantage in the third period alone.

The Islanders finished the night leading in blocked shots (19-7), giveaways (13-11) and hits (34-23).

Both teams finished even in faceoff win%, 50-50, while New York went 0/3 on the skater advantage and Boston finished the night 1/5 on the power play.

Rask– in his 552nd career game, all with Boston– tied Pekka Rinne for the fifth fastest goaltender in NHL history to reach the 300-win plateau, behind Jacques Plante (521 games), Andy Moog (543), Marc-Andre Fleury (547) and Martin Brodeur (548).

The Bruins improved to 15-4-3 (7-0-2) when scoring the game’s first goal, 12-0-2 (6-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 14-0-2 (9-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

The Islanders dropped to 9-11-2 (3-9-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-6-2 (1-6-2 on the road) when trailing after one period and 3-10-1 (3-8-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

Boston faces New York again on Friday before closing out their five-game homestand (2-1-0) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon.

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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Almost 11 years later, Taylor Hall is finally a Bruin

The Boston Bruins traded forward, Anders Bjork, and a 2021 2nd round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for forwards, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar, late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

By the time TSN fired up their “TradeCentre” coverage, the Bruins and Sabres officially announced the deal.

Boston General Manager, Don Sweeney, emphasized the need to “add some juice” to the B’s lineup across both of his moves before Monday’s deadline.

Buffalo General Manger, Kevyn Adams, noted that he’s long-liked Bjork’s game and was tied up by Hall’s no-movement clause, which limited possible trade destinations.

Both Hall and Bjork were on pace for about three goals each this season at the time of the trade. Both players are looking to recapture former glories (Hall and his 2017-18 Hart Memorial Trophy winning regular season MVP performance, Bjork and his prolific scoring prowess in his junior year at Notre Dame in 2016-17).

In the end, however, the Bruins may have finally landed their missing piece to play alongside David Krejci on their second line, while the Sabres are prime for a resurgence by actually giving their youth (and Bjork) more playing time to develop.

And then there’s Lazar, who is the icing on the cake for Boston’s re-energized fourth line and not just at risk of being a rental, though Hall has indicated an interest in signing an extension with the Bruins if he can prove himself worthy.

All three players may suit up in their first game with their new teams against one another.

That’s right, the Bruins host the Sabres on Tuesday night– pitting Hall against Bjork in a head-to-head matchup, while Lazar (lower body) is a game-time decision.

Hall, 29, had 2-17–19 totals in 37 games with Buffalo at the time of the trade and has 220-362–582 totals in 664 career NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes and Sabres.

He had career-highs in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) in 76 games en route to winning the Hart Trophy with the Devils in 2017-18, and was originally drafted 1st overall by Edmonton in 2010.

Hall is the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 2013, to suit up for the Bruins as a 1st overall draft pick and almost became a Bruin back in that 2010 Draft, as Boston had the 2nd overall pick that year (drafting Tyler Seguin after the Oilers in the process).

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound native of Calgary, Alberta has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 14 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 2-4–6 totals in nine games with Arizona most recently in the 2020 postseason.

Buffalo retained 50% of Hall’s salary in the transaction, which means his cap hit with the Bruins is set at $4.000 million and he is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Lazar, 26, had 5-4–9 totals and zero penalty minutes in 33 games with the Sabres at the time of the trade and has 25-45–70 totals in 317 career NHL games with the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Sabres since making his league debut in 2014-15, with Ottawa.

The 6-foot, 193-pound center was originally drafted by the Senators in the 1st round (17th overall) in 2013, and set career-highs in goals (6), assists (14) and points (20) in 76 games with the Sens in 2015-16.

Lazar brings stability to Boston’s fourth line with Sean Kuraly able to play center or wing and Chris Wagner likely fighting for a spot down the stretch with Anton Blidh, who’s been a welcome surprise in finding a consistent game since being drafted by the Bruins in the 6th round (180th overall) in 2013.

Though a lower body had him listed as “week-to-week” according to the Sabres at the time of the trade, Lazar may be ready to go with Boston on Tuesday night and make an immediate impact on a young lineup that’s faced numerous injuries of their own this season.

Lazar has no points in seven career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including one game most recently with Calgary in the 2017 postseason and is a native of Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

He’s signed through the 2021-22 season at an $800,000 cap hit.

Bjork, 24, had 2-3–5 totals in 30 games with Boston at the time of the trade and has 16-23–39 totals in 138 career games (all with the Bruins) since making his NHL debut in the 2017-18 season.

The 6-foot, 197-pound native of Mequon, Wisconsin set career-highs in goals (9), assists (10) and points (19) in 58 games with the B’s last season and can provide a much-needed spark in more playing time with the Sabres.

He was originally drafted by Boston in the 5th round (146th overall) in 2014.

His puck possession skills are unmatched among his peers, though his puck luck has been a bit of a detractor at times, especially more so this season than when shoulder injuries kept him out of the lineup in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Bjork has one assist in 10 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (all in 2020) and was a minus-three in that span.

Adams, in the meantime, can utilize the 2021 2nd round pick on a prospect or flip it for something better as he continues to make adjustments to his roster in the offseason with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft in mind.

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NHL Nick's Net

Couturier, Flyers beat Bruins, 3-2

Sean Couturier scored the game-winning goal early in the third period Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center as the Philadelphia Flyers topped the Boston Bruins, 3-2.

Brian Elliott (11-5-1, 2.87 goals-against average, .894 save percentage in 21 games played) stopped 30 out of 32 shots faced in the win for the Flyers.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (2-1-0, 2.35 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in three games played) made 20 saves on 23 shots against in the loss.

Boston fell to 21-11-6 (48 points) on the season, but remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Philadelphia improved to 19-15-6 (44 points) and reclaimed 5th place in the division before the rest of the night’s action took place.

The Bruins finished their regular season series 6-1-1 against the Flyers.

Ondrej Kase (upper body) missed his 36th game this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey, while John Moore (hip) remains out for the rest of the season after undergoing a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22nd and is expected to recover in five to six months.

Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask (upper body) missed his 16th game this season due to an injury that he sustained against the New York Islanders on March 25th and is expected to return sometime next week.

Charlie McAvoy (upper body) missed his 3rd game due to an injury sustained on April 5th against the Flyers and may return to game action on Tuesday, while Brandon Carlo (upper body) missed his 15th game due to an injury sustained against Pittsburgh on April 1st.

Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness) missed his 2nd game of the season on Saturday, while Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) missed his 4th game due to being in league protocol.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Thursday night’s, 4-2, win in Washington, D.C. and informed reporters ahead of Saturday’s action that Kevan Miller would not play back-to-back games on Sunday.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Anders Bjork, Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Jack Ahcan, Callum Booth, McAvoy and Jarred Tinordi on Saturday afternoon.

Early in the action, Patrice Bergeron (16) scored from his usual spot in the bumper after catching a pass with his left skate and releasing the ensuing shot past Elliott on the stick side to give Boston a, 1-0, lead.

Craig Smith (13) and Brad Marchand (29) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 5:38 of the first period.

It was the only time the Bruins would lead all afternoon as midway through the first period, Travis Konecny (9) hit the back of the twine on an initial shot from the point by Robert Hagg that rebounded off of Swayman’s pad to the slot.

Hagg (2) and Travis Sanheim (10) had the assists on Konecny’s goal as the Flyers tied it, 1-1, at 11:51.

Late in the period, Jeremy Lauzon cut a rut to the penalty box for roughing, presenting Philly with their first power play of the afternoon at 17:31.

Philadelphia made quick work of the resulting skater advantage as Konecny fed Shayne Gostisbehere (7) for the redirection goal past Swayman’s blocker side while crashing the net to give the Flyers their first lead of the afternoon, 2-1.

Konecny (19) and James van Riemsdyk (19) had the assists on Gostisbehere’s power-play goal at 17:46 as the Flyers tallied two goals in a 5:55 span.

Entering the first intermission, Philadelphia led Boston, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins holding an, 11-7, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (5-1), takeaways (2-1), hits (13-10) and faceoff win percentage (52-48) after one period of play, while both teams had two giveaways each through 20 minutes.

Philadelphia was 1/1 on the power play and Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Matt Grzelcyk was not on the bench for the Bruins as the teams returned to the ice for the second period. Boston later tweeted that Grzelcyk sustained an upper body injury and would not return to the day’s action.

Cassidy told informers after the game that Grzelcyk is “day-to-day” in regards to whether or not he will suit up on Sunday night against the Washington Capitals.

Connor Clifton was sent to the sin bin for a holding infraction 52 seconds into the second period and this time– to the delight of Boston’s penalty kill– the Flyers weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Especially since Nolan Patrick tripped Lauzon with 22 seconds remaining on Philadelphia’s skater advantage at 2:30.

The two clubs skated at 4-on-4 for about 22 seconds before the Bruins had an abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage.

Boston did not capitalize on their first power play of the afternoon, however.

Midway through the afternoon’s action, Sanheim was sent to the box for holding the stick of Bruins forward, Jake DeBrusk, at 9:06.

After generating momentum in the waning seconds of the ensuing power play, Boston caught Philly in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as defender, Steven Kampfer, pinched into the attacking zone along the boards, where he worked the puck to the high slot for Charlie Coyle to setup Smith at the goal line for a “tic-toc-goal” one-timer by DeBrusk (4) from the slot.

Smith (14) and Coyle (8) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal as the Bruins tied the game, 2-2, at 11:45 of the second period.

It was DeBrusk’s first goal since March 18th, though the young B’s winger missed a couple of weeks of action due to a bout with COVID.

Through two periods, the game was tied, 2-2, though the Bruins held the advantage in shots on goal, 22-14, including an, 11-7, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (10-7) and takeaways (4-2), while Philadelphia held the advantage in hits (17-16) and faceoff win% (57-43) after 40 minutes of action.

Both teams had six giveaways, while the Flyers were 1/2 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame of the game.

Philadelphia moved the rubber biscuit around the attacking zone with ease early in the final frame, leading to Boston’s defenders being out of position and Swayman playing aggressively in the crease to try to makeup for the defensive shortfalls.

Couturier (12) capitalized on Swayman having to dive across the crease on an ensuing play and slid the puck under the Bruins goaltender’s glove as a result to the Flyers a, 3-2, lead at 6:59 of the third period.

Joel Farabee (14) and van Riemsdyk (20) had the assists on what would become Couturier’s game-winning goal by the final horn.

Kevin Hayes cross checked David Pastrnak at 8:10 of the third period and presented Boston with a power play, but the Bruins could not convert on the skater advantage.

The B’s failed to score on yet another power play when Ivan Provorov tripped Pastrnak moments later at 11:45.

Gostisbehere thought he sent a puck off of Swayman’s glove and into the net for an insurance goal, but Boston used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that they believed Jakub Voracek had made incidental contact with their goaltender and therefore rendered the call on the ice obsolete.

Upon review, it was determined that, in fact, Voracek had clipped Swayman while skating through the crease and impeded on the B’s goaltender’s ability to make a save.

The call on the ice was reversed and there was no goal on the play.

The Flyers still led, 3-2, however and the Bruins couldn’t muster anything else past Elliott.

Boston pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with less than a minute to go and Cassidy used his timeout after a stoppage in play with nine seconds left on the game clock.

At the final, the Flyers had won, 3-2, despite finishing the afternoon trailing in shots on goal, 32-23.

Boston held the advantage in shots in the third period alone (10-9), blocked shots (17-15) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Philadelphia finished the afternoon leading in giveaways (11-7) and hits (24-20).

The Flyers went 1/2 and the Bruins went 0/4 on the power play on Saturday.

The B’s dropped to 14-4-3 (8-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 5-7-2 (2-5-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 5-5-3 (5-4-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Philly improved to 7-11-3 (3-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 9-1-1 (6-1-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 7-3-3 (3-2-2 at home) when tied after two periods in 2020-21.

The Bruins went 2-1-0 on their three-game road trip and venture back home to host the Washington Capitals on Sunday night– kicking off a five-game homestand in the process.

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Deadline Deals NHL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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