The Bruins have been as streaky as Milan Lucic. A five-game win streak was followed by six straight losses.

It’s only appropriate the Bruins ended March with their third straight win, a key victory, spurred on by one of their better players in the month as the right winger provided the game-winning margin with some grit and good fortune.

His rush to the Panthers blue line with just over a minute left in regulation ended with a “why not” shot on goal that found its way through the skates of Roberto Luongo and gave the Bruins a 3-2 win Tuesday at TD Garden. Lucic has become a leader for young stars Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak on his line. On Tuesday, he led by example when it mattered most.

His drop pass to Spooner resulted in a bad-angle shot by Spooner from the left boards that tied the game early in the third period. His late-game rush with Spooner ended up being the difference in winning and losing.

“I was checking to see to see if Spoons was onside,” said Lucic, who finished the game with a goal and an assist and five of each for the month. “It was kind of a one-on-four situation and I just tried to get [the puck] past the two D-men [and] on net and I got a little bit of luck there and was able to find a hole there in the five-hole. It was one of those things where you’re kind of swarmed. You’re just getting the puck on net, and thankfully it went in for myself and ends up being a big goal for a big win.”

Of course, all of this became necessary because the Bruins again let their guard down in the second period, falling behind 2-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.

“We wanted to get back to playing desperate and hungry hockey,” Lucic said. “In the second period our emotion level dropped. It just seems like to we went back to old habits in the second and it cost us two goals. Then we got back on it in the third period. It gives us a big win. At this point of the season we wanted to try to put together a full 60-minute effort, but at the end of the day it’s nice we were able to step up in the third period and get a huge win and keep taking care of business.

“It was good to see, especially with a team playing for their lives. They put so much emphasis on this game, probably being the biggest game of their season. We had to view it the same way. Obviously, being down 2-1 going into the third we had to have the same desperation and that mentality as they did, playing-for-their-lives mentality. You saw in the opening shift of the third period, we went right into the offensive zone and created a chance. We’re going to need more of that with five games left, especially four of them on the road. We’re going to have play good smart, hard hockey and keep finding a way to get wins.”

Was there an emotional switch turned on by Lucic and his teammates in the second intermission?

“I think not only for myself, I think for the whole team,” he acknowledged. “Obviously, these are desperate times. We obviously didn’t want end up in a position at the end of the season where we were second-guessing ourselves and had regrets. We started playing with that desperation and going out there and leaving it on the ice and playing that no-regrets type of mentality. It’s clicked for myself and it’s clicked for the whole team. It’s just good we’re getting wins here and we have to continue working at it to get more wins.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

To Tuukka Rask, the glass Tuesday night was half full. He and his teammates slept walked through the second period as they have in many underachieving games this season and fell behind a desperate Florida Panthers team smelling the chance to get back in the hunt for the final wild card spot in the East.

Then the Bruins woke up in the third, getting a fortunate goal from a very bad angle from Ryan Spooner and an admittedly lucky goal from Milan Lucic to escape with a hard fought 3-2 win over the Panthers at TD Garden.

“Well kind of frustrating,” said Rask, who allowed a weak five-hole goal of his own in the second period from former Bruin Brad Boyes that put the Panthers up, 2-1. “Again, just wondering what’€™s going on there. There’€™s no emotion and we needed to find it. We did and a 40-minute game today got us the win, but obviously there’€™s wins that feel great and there’€™s wins you take and you feel good. I don’€™t think this is a great win for us but we’€™ll take it for sure.”

When Milan Lucic scored with 69 seconds left in regulation, it turned out to be a crucial two points, as they put themselves six points ahead of the Panthers and remained three points clear of the Senators in the race for the eighth and final spot.

From the get-go Tuesday, the Bruins appeared ready to show they were up to the task against a Florida team fighting to stay alive.

“First period was good,” Rask said. “They never really got anything great going there but we were just so flat that it was kind of one of those games where something bad is about to happen and it did and thank goodness it didn’€™t end up costing us. We showed in the third period, when we play like that it looks good and it’€™s going to benefit us. So just have to figure out and keep that going for 60 minutes.”

In the second period, Rask faced only seven shots but allowed two to beat him. One was a right point cannon from Brandon Pirri just eight seconds into a Panthers power play. The goal 55 seconds into the second gave the Panthers new life and put the Bruins back on their heels. That’s where Rask appeared to be when he allowed Boyes to beat him 11 minutes later.

“I just wasn’€™t ready enough for that shot,” Rask said. “He was so far out that I was looking for options there, I wasn’€™t ready for it. When I’€™m not ready for it’€”you know it just caught me off guard.”

With Ottawa coming from behind to beat the Red Wings in a shootout, the Senators kept pace in terms of points with the Bruins, with still a game in hand on Boston. The Bruins have five games left while Ottawa has six. Tuesday’s win also brought the Bruins to within two points of Detroit for third place in the Atlantic, which would elevate them from the wild card pool.

“We try not to look at the standings too much because we have a job to do here and we still have five games left and they’€™re important games,” Rask said. “We’€™re trying to focus on our game and once the season is over we’€™ll look at the standings and see where we stand.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Milan Lucic has turned his season around with Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak.</p>
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The Bruins were a period away from letting the Panthers back into the race for the last playoff spot, but once again, Ryan Spooner’€™s line came through late. David Pastrnak had the game-tying goal, while Milan Lucic netted the game-winner with 1:09 remaining.

The Bruins were a period away from letting the Panthers back into the race for the last playoff spot, but once again, Ryan Spooner’€™s line came through late. David Pastrnak had the game-tying goal, while Milan Lucic netted the game-winner with 1:09 remaining.

The win improved the Bruins to 91 points on the season with five games left in the regular season. Florida, who entered the game trailing Boston by four points and fewer regulation and overtime wins, are now six points out of a playoff spot with five games remaining. The Senators were trailing the Red Wings at the time that Boston’€™s game concluded.

Tuesday marked the second-straight game in which a member of Spooner’s line netted the game-winning goal. David Pastrnak scored the deciding goal in overtime of Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes.

With Florida holding a 2-1 lead midway through the third period, Ryan Spooner threw the puck toward the net from along the wall, with David Pastrnak redirecting it past Roberto Luongo in front of the net. Lucic would later walk into the offensive zone and fire a shot past Luongo from the high slot to give Boston the win.

The line’€™s third period was a nice response from the line after being on the ice for a second-period Brad Boyes goal. With the goal for and goal against, following is the line’€™s updated production:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.28.35 PM

Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:

ERIKSSON HITS 20

Loui Eriksson made a heck of a play during a first-period 4-on-4 to give Boston the only goal of the first period. Eriksson buzzed around the offensive zone before jumping on an Aleksander Barkov turnover and escaping Aaron Ekblad and Dmitry Kulikov in the slot. He then got Roberto Luongo to bite on a deke before roofing the puck with a backhander.

The goal was Eriksson’€™s 20th of the season, giving the 29-year-old five such campaigns. He had 10 goals over 61 games last season for Boston.

Eriksson is the Bruins’€™ third 20-goal scorer this season. Lucic (18) is the only other realistic candidate to hit 20. Boston had five 20-goal scorers last season.

OPENING STATEMENT

Eriksson’€™s goal and Tuukka Rask‘€™s seven saves in the first period meant that the Bruins hit the first intermission with a lead for the third consecutive game. The Bruins have now outscored opponents, 5-0, in their last three games.

BRUINS GIVE ONE AWAY

This is not the time of year to allow bad goals, but such was the case in the second period when Matt Bartkowski and Tuukka Rask collectively gave one to Brad Boyes.

Bartkowski whiffed on a stumbling puck at the offensive blue line, with Boyes stealing it and sprinting through the neutral zone. Boyes then beat Rask off the rush with a shot that snuck in five-hole.

Bartkowski needed to be better with the puck and Rask needed to make the save. Both players failed and the result was a goal against.

STOP THE FIGHT

Adam McQuaid may have challenged Shawn Thornton to fight following a second-period hit on Dennis Seidenberg. Whether he did or didn’€™t, the Bruins are probably better off that no gloves were dropped.

Like it or not, the Bruins aren’€™t exactly overflowing with right-shot defensemen right now. With Kevan Miller out for the season and Dougie Hamilton out for the foreseeable future, McQuaid and Zach Trotman are the only righties on Boston’€™s blue line. If McQuaid were to get hurt, the team would either need to move Torey Krug to the right side (Seidenberg is already playing the right side) or dip into the likes of Steve Eminger, Chris Breen or Chris Casto from Providence.

As such, McQuaid (and probably all other Bruins defensemen, especially righties) should keep their gloves on for the time being.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Jaromir Jagr has been a bigger pickup for the Panthers than he was for the Bruins. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Jaromir Jagr has been a bigger pickup for the Panthers than he was for the Bruins. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Thanks to Shawn Thornton, it’€™s always a reunion when the Panthers come to town. Yet it’€™s a pair of other former Bruins that have found new success in their respective careers by going to Florida.

Jaromir Jagr and Steven Kampfer have both turned heads since joining the Panthers. Since being acquired by the Panthers prior to the trade deadline, Jagr has done much more than he did down the stretch with the Bruins in 2013. Kampfer, a former Bruins prospect who played 38 games in their Cup-winning 2010-11 season, has resurfaced in the NHL after years of struggling with injuries and inconsistency in the AHL.

The Bruins traded a conditional second-round pick and prospects Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne to Dallas for Jagr in 2013. The pick became a first-rounder when the B’€™s reached the Eastern Conference finals, but Jagr did not score a postseason goal for the Bruins. He played well as a third-liner before spelling Tyler Seguin on Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line, but the team parted with him at season’€™s end.

Two years later, Jagr was flipped from New Jersey to Florida after the Panthers had moved Sean Bergenheim to Minnesota. Florida gave up a second-round pick in 2015 and a conditional third-rounder in 2016.

If the Panthers make the playoffs, Jagr will be a primary reason as to why. Playing on Florida’€™s first line, Jagr has four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 14 games. Florida general manager Dale Tallon said recently that the team is interested in re-signing the 43-year-old after the season.

“He’€™s done everything we expected,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said Tuesday. “He’€™s [gone] out and played with those two young kids, and the line’€™s played very well since he’€™s been here and our team’€™s played very well since he’€™s been here, so it’€™s been real positive.”

The aforementioned kids are 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau and 19-year-old Aleksander Barkov, both of whom were top-three picks in their respective drafts.

“It’€™s kind of crazy,” Huberdeau said Tuesday. “We were saying he won a Stanley Cup when I wasn’€™t even born.”

Age gaps aside, Jagr has fit with the two youngsters. He still plays keep-away with the puck, and it’€™s paying off.

“He’€™s a first-line player, for sure,” Huberdeau said. “Even when we played against him in New Jersey, I thought he was really good. He’€™s so good at protecting the puck and stuff. Just playing with him, it creates more space [for] me and Barkov. I think we’€™re just taking advantage of that.”

As for Kampfer, Florida has become a home for the Michigan native (whose parents actually live in Florida, come to think of it) after his 2012 trade from the Bruins to the Wild led to two seasons of AHL play.

Kampfer’€™s stint in the Wild organization wasn’€™t ideal. In addition to concussions and knee injuries, he never really got a shot to play NHL games. His only games with the big club came in the 2011-12 season, when he replaced Boston acquisition Greg Zanon.

“It taught me a lot to grow up as a person, more so than anything,” Kampfer said. “It was different because they had their six guys that they were going to roll there, so you knew you were just going to go down, you were going to be a depth guy and play in the minors, but it was good. The coaches down in Houston during the lockout year were awesome. Then last year, it was just trying to play hard and hopefully you get a chance, but  they had their six guys that they were just going to keep rolling.”

Kampfer signed with the Rangers in the offseason, but was traded to Florida after Matt Hunwick beat him out for the final spot on Alain Vigneault’€™s blue line. After starting the season in the AHL, the now-26-year-old has played 23 games for the Panthers, even seeing time at forward Sunday against Ottawa.

It would seem that Kampfer now has a future with the Panthers, as he was given a two-year contract extension earlier this month.

‘€œI’m feeling good,” he said of his Panthers experience. “Obviously feeling good and our team’s doing well, that’s the most important thing. Good experience, good locker room, great organization.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Austin Czarnik is an undersized right-shot center. (Miami Photo)

Austin Czarnik is an undersized right-shot center. (Miami Photo)

The Bruins haven’€™t drafted particularly well over the years, but undrafted free agents can help a team trying to groom NHL players. Torey Krug is Exhibit A around these parts.

On Tuesday, the Bruins signed another highly sought-after former college player in Miami (Ohio) center Austin Czarnik. The Michigan native was a linemate of Reilly Smith’€™s in his freshman year, a Hobey Baker finalist as a sophomore and captain of the RedHawks in his junior and senior seasons.

Like Krug, size may have been what allowed Czarnik to slip under the radar as a teenager. Czarnik is listed at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds. Miami coach Enrico Blasi says he makes up for it.

“As a smaller smaller guy, you’€™ve got to play hard and not [be afraid] to get in nasty areas,” Blasi told WEEI.com Tuesday. “He certainly does that. He’€™s got real good skill and and good vision for the ice.”

Added Blasi: “He’€™s always been told that he can’€™t play at that next level and he likes to prove people wrong. It wouldn’€™t surprise me if he made it.”

Playing with Smith in 2011-12, Czarnik scored 10 goals and added 27 assists for 37 points as a freshman. He had 40-plus points in each of his final three seasons with Miami, giving him 36 goals and 123 for 159 points over his college career.

The Senators were among the other teams reported to be vying for Czarnik’€™s services after Providence ended Mimai’€™s season in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Smith, who turned pro after his junior season and Czarnik’€™s freshman season, said he kept in touch with Czarnik throughout the process.

“I kept in touch with him a lot during this year, just kind of picking his brain as to what he thought he was going to do and how the year was going,” Smith said. “It’€™s good to see there’€™s light at the end of the tunnel. He played really good hockey at the end of the year, so it’€™s no surprise that something’€™s happening for him this quickly.”

The Bruins signing Czarnik keeps the RedHawks-Bruins connection alive. The Bruins are clearly fond of Blasi’€™s work, as they were high on Smith in the 2009 draft before eventually trading for him, and had also signed Smith’€™s former linemate in Carter Camper back in 2010. Before Czarnik got to Miami, Smith and Camper made up one the best lines in college hockey with eventual Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele.

Smith said he’€™s glad to have a former teammate and linemate join the organization, while Blasi feels his players are in good hands when they go to the Bruins.

“Great organization, great people working there,” Blasi said of the B’€™s. “[I have the] utmost respect for everyone with the Bruins organization. They’€™re first-class. I talked to Don Sweeney the other day, and just the way they conduct themselves in the process is first-class.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Brett Connolly is not yet ready to play. Once he is, he will play, Claude Julien said Tuesday.

Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly is not yet ready to play. Once he is, he will play, Claude Julien said Tuesday.

Connolly, who continues to skate with the Bruins, traveled with the team for Sunday’€™s game against the Hurricanes, marking the first trip he’€™s made with the team. He is getting more confident in his puck-handling and shooting as his surgically repaired right index finger. He hopes to begin taking contact soon, which is the biggest remaining hurdle.

Wednesday will mark four weeks since the injury, which the team said at the time would keep him out six weeks.

“I know they said six weeks, but four-to-six weeks I think is kind of where I’€™m aiming for,” Connolly said Tuesday. “I’€™m really excited, obviously. It’€™s getting better every day. Some days it feels a lot better, so that’€™s encouraging.”

The Bruins are currently playing David Krejci at right wing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand‘€™s line. Once Connolly is ready, however, the team could move Krejci back to center and build a line around Krejci and Connolly.

When Connolly broke his finger in his second practice with the B’€™s, he was skating on a line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Julien said it’€™s too soon to say where Connolly will slot into the lineup, but he clarified that it’€™s their intention to get put him in as soon as he’€™s ready.

“I think when the time comes, we’€™ll definitely put him in,” Julien said. “He’€™s a good player. In my mind, there’€™s no doubt we missed him through this stretch. When the time comes I’€™ll make that decision but certainly not open to talking about it right now.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Tuukka Rask is expected to be in goal for the Bruins as the play their latest biggest game of the season. The Panthers, currently four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference consider Tuesday night a must-win, as wins over Boston Tuesday and next month could bridge the gap and help them reach the postseason.

The Bruins currently lead the Senators by three points, though Ottawa has seven games remaining to Boston’€™s six. The Senators will face the Red Wings in Detroit Tuesday, with Andrew Hammond back in net after missing time with a perceived leg injury.

Claude Julien is using his same forward lines for Tuesday night, by the looks of morning skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Krejci
Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak
Eriksson-Soderberg-Smith
Kelly-Campbell-Talbot

Chara-Trotman
Krug-Seidenberg
Bartowski-McQuaid

Rask

Tuesday will mark Rask’€™s 65th game of the season (62nd start). Rask had never played more than 58 games prior to this season. The Bruins say they understand the importance of not wasting his performances down the stretch.

“Right now it’€™s a playoff atmosphere, and we’€™re playing like it’€™s the playoffs,” Brad Marchand said. “For us, it is. I wouldn’€™t be surprised if he played the rest of the season. I obviously don’€™t know, but you’€™ve got to rely on your top guys in situations like these. That’€™s what he’€™s making seven million dollars for.”

Shawn Thornton, who was questionable for Tuesday’s game, is expected to play for the Panthers.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean