The Bruins and Flyers. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins overcame an 0-2 deficit to earn one point in a shootout loss to the Flyers Tuesday night. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

Down their two most experienced defensemen and against a team that entered play with the second-most goals for this season, the Bruins found a way to snatch overtime defeat from the jaws of regulation defeat against the Flyers in a 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday night.

In a nightmarish start to the night given their ownership of the puck and attacking zone time in an opening period that favored the Bruins in shots by a 19-to-9 mark, the Bruins found themselves in an 0-2 hole through one behind Philly goals from Michael Del Zotto and captain Claude Giroux (a power-play goal) scored just 1:32 apart.

The second period brought about more of the same for the Bruins, as it has for most of this season actually, with noteworthy opportunities and shot totals against the Flyers’ Steve Mason. But, still, zero goals.

Without a goal on 30 total shots through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins finally broke through 4:26 into the third when David Krejci’s shot bounced and trickled through Mason’s pads. The goal, Krejci’s first since Nov. 13, brought the B’s within one and broke a frustrating 45-minute stretch that came with nothing to show for their strong effort.

Krejci’s goal proved to be the one that broke the dam for the Black and Gold shooters, too, as the equally snakebitten Brad Marchand followed Krejci’s tally up with one of his own just 1:18 later, and brought the Bruins even at 2-2.

And after a phenomenal overtime frame in which the Bruins and Flyers traded chances — the shots were 6-to-1 for the Bruins but there was no better chance than Giroux’s one-time blast on a 2-on-1 stoned by Rask with just seconds left in the three-on-three, five-minute period — the B’s went to their second shootout of the season.

From there, the Bruins scored just one goal, a Marchand beauty scored in the bottom of the fifth round, but fell when David Backes could not answer a top of the ninth go-ahead shootout marker from the Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere.

A shootout loss is nothing worth celebrating if you’re the Black and Gold, of course, but in a way, it sorta is. When you think about the games that the Bruins have lost this season (the two last-minute losses to the Canadiens and Wild stick out in this regard), you think about the points that were left on the table. Down by two and shooting blanks on Mason through two periods, to escape this game with at least one point is practically a win for the Bruins, and that’s one more point that they didn’t have entering today.

Here are four other things we learned in the shootout loss.

Shorthanded miscue, bad luck burns B’s on Giroux goal

It took all of about four seconds for Riley Nash to regret his decision to head back to the bench in search of a new stick.

With Nash’s twig dumped off to Brandon Carlo after Carlo’s stick broke for the second time in the period, Nash thought he had a moment to rush back to the bench when Jakub Voracek’s one-timer went high and off glass. But what Nash did not anticipate (and how could he?), however, was the perfect bounce off the plexi and right back to Claude Giroux, who fed it back to Voracek, and then back to Giroux for the fifth goal of the season for the Flyer captain.

The power-play goal against put an end to a stretch of 16 consecutive success penalty kills by the Bruins.

Officiating was a hot mess in this game

Complaining about the officials is the ultimate loser’s lament. I know this. You know this. We know this.

But holy hell, did the referees tonight in Philly have a straight-up dreadful night.

Not only did the referees fall for a complete flop by Andrew MacDonald on a B’s power play in the second period with just David Backes sentenced to the box for a hook, but when the roles were reversed in the third period and David Pastrnak was tripped up through the neutral zone as both legs were tripped, the referees sentenced Pastrnak to a two-minute embellishment call to negate a power-play opportunity. OK, sure, whatever. Flyer sniper Jakub Voracek was then given a penalty shot chance on a marginal-at-best holding whistled against Joe Morrow. Rask helped silence what would have been a disastrous call against with a stop on the subsequent penalty shot from Voracek. The referees then missed a clear as day slash on Matt Beleskey that honestly prevented what would have been an easy goal for No. 39.  Again, there was no call against MacDonald on this play. Seriously.

Mason continues to stand tall against Bruins

Heading into tonight’s game, Steve Mason was the only goaltender in the NHL to have played at least 14 games in net and have a sub-.900 save percentage on the year. In spite of those figures this season, however, Mason also entered play with five wins and a .930 save percentage in 10 starts against the Bruins, including a 2-0-0 mark and .920 a year ago.

The latter outdid the former Tuesday night, too, as Mason was absolutely dynamite against the B’s early and often, and finished regulation with stops on all but two of the 41 shots thrown his way. Mason would add another six stops in the overtime for a season-high 45 saves, and stopped all but one of the nine shooters he faced in the shootout for his sixth win of the season.

Krejci line puts forth dominant performance

In their second game with Tim Schaller to the left of David Krejci and David Backes, the B’s second line put forth one of their most dominant performances of the season, and outright dominated the puck at five-on-five play. Led by Krejci’s game-high eight shots on goal (Krejci finally scored on his sixth shot of the night), the 59-46-42 trio routinely created positive chances and generated second chance opportunities either between the circles or in front of net. Oddly enough, though, the line’s only goal of the night came when Ryan Spooner took a shift in Schaller’s place on that line, though Spooner did not record a point on the goal.

But the biggest positive to take from the line’s performance? Its centerpiece, of course, and that’s Krejci. As he has in so many prior head-to-heads with the Flyers, Krejci looked like a man possessed tonight, and looked like the Krejci of old in the loss.

And don’t look now, but the Czech pivot has points in seven of his last 10 contests.

The Bruins are back in action Thursday night at TD Garden against the Hurricanes in a 7 p.m. puckdrop.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Tuukka Rask will get the start for the Bruins tonight. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask will get the start for the Bruins tonight. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

In Philadelphia down Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles and against a Flyers club that’s tallied the second-most goals in the NHL to date (the Flyers’ 74 goals scored in 23 games are 11 off from the Rangers’ 85 for the league lead) and put 144 shots on goal over their last four games (two wins and 36 shots per night), the Bruins are going to need everything and more in the defensive zone to pull off a win tonight.

So it’s far from a shock that it will be Tuukka Rask is expected back between the pipes for the Black and Gold at the Wells Fargo Center.

The first goalie off the ice at the B’s morning skate today, the 29-year-old Rask will return to the net after a stellar 30-of-31 effort in the crease in Sunday’s 4-1 victory the Lightning, a game that bumped his season save percentage up to .940 while his goals against average dipped down to a miniscule 1.63. With just one goal allowed, Rask has now allowed one goal or fewer in 10 of his 16 appearances this season, and has been credited with a shutout in four of those 10 games.

The latter figure could have been even higher, too, had it not been for a Victor Hedman goal scored off Colin Miller and into the B’s net with just 2:39 remaining in the third period of Sunday’s win. It was actually the fourth time that Rask had lost a shutout in the final five minutes of play this season. It happened in a Nov. 1 win over the Panthers with 4:35 left in the third, Nov. 17 against the Wild with just 45 seconds left, Nov. 19’s win over the Jets with 2:40 left in regulation, and of course, Sunday against the Bolts.

“Good thing I don’t have a bonus for that,” Rask joked about losing another shutout. “It’s alright, it’s just a tough bounce.”

But bounces have undoubtedly favor the Finnish netminder this year, as Rask ranks near the top or at the top of almost every statstical category in the league thus far, and has done so while playing in all but six of the B’s 22 games this season.

“I just know he’s playing exceptionally well right now and I’m happy for him,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid said of Rask’s success this season. “He’s focused and he always has the same demeanor regardless, and that’s the great thing with Tuukka. He’s just the same guy that comes to the rink every day, regardless of how things are going. He brings that calm demeanor into the team and when he’s in net, I think that has a trickle down effect on the whole team.”

“Um,” Rask said with a slight pause when asked if this was the best stretch of his career. “Probably.”

But tonight against a Philadelphia group loaded with scoring — the Flyers rank second in shots per game with 33 and are one of five teams to average over three goals per game this season — the Bruins will undoubtedly need more of Rask’s best.

Rask has 10 wins and a .927 save percentage in 14 career starts against the Flyers.

The Flyers will counter with Steve Mason. In what’s been a down year for No. 35, Mason took another loss last Friday behind a 20-of-23 showing against the Rangers, and has won just five of his 14 starts on the season.

The only goalie in the NHL to have appeared in 14 games and have a sub-.900 save percentage on the year (Mason currently sits at .892 on the year), the 28-year-old does bring strong career numbers against the B’s into play tonight, with five wins and a .930 save percentage in 10 career starts against the Bruins, including a 2-0-0 and .920 against the club a season ago.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins tonight

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Tim Schaller – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Austin Czarnik

Ryan Spooner – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Brandon Carlo

Joe Morrow – Colin Miller

Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

In Philadelphia for a one-game getaway from Boston, the Bruins made the trek without their two elder statesmen, as defensemen Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles have remained back in the Hub and will both obviously miss tonight’s head-to-head with the rival Flyers.

Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles will miss tonight's game against the Flyers. (Roy Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles will miss tonight’s game against the Flyers. (Roy Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

In Philadelphia for a one-game getaway from Boston, the Bruins made the trek without their two elder statesmen, as defensemen Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles have remained back in the Hub and will both obviously miss tonight’s head-to-head with the rival Flyers.

Chara’s absence, while noticeable, is nothing new for a B’s club that’s skated without their captain for the last three contests, and have since the second period of their Nov. 22 loss to the Blues. The Bruins have allowed 10 goals in 11 periods of hockey without Chara this season, but did record their first sans Chara win Sunday, a 4-1 final over the Lightning. That win snapped a four-game losing streak in games played without the 39-year-old in action dating back to the 2014-15 season.

Out with what’s been called a lower-body injury, Chara allegedly skated on his own prior to Sunday’s contest, and remains day to day.

The Bruins are 1-2-0 with Chara out of action this season, and 12-11-1 without Chara since 2014.

The Liles situation remains vague, however, as there’s been no official update from the Bruins since Sunday’s in-game announcement that Liles suffered an upper-body injury and would not return. Injured on a trip and subsequent and straight-up brutal collision into the TD Garden endboards five minutes into the first period, the 36-year-old Liles remained down on the ice for an extended period of time before he was helped up and off the ice with the help of the training staff and Adam McQuaid.

And not only did Liles slam into the boards with a vicious thud, but he was also kneed in the head by Austin Czarnik on his way to the crash, so the exact extent of his injury — or what his injury actually is, for that matter — remains unknown.

A subtle do-it-all presence B’s head coach Claude Julien can trust in all situations, Liles will be replaced in the lineup by Joe Morrow, who was a healthy scratch for the first time since Nov. 12 last game. Morrow will be paired with Colin Miller on the Black and Gold’s third pairing, while Kevan Miller will switch to the left side on a pairing with the 20-year-old Brandon Carlo.

On a B’s point shuffled about across the board (the Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid pairing is the lone untouched pairing), the 29-year-old Miller played big minutes on the left side when Liles went down Sunday (something he admits he’s done before at different points in seasons for the Bruins), and finished the night with a team-leading 26:40 of time on ice.

“It was good,” Miller, who has skated in three consecutive contests after missing the first 19 games of the year with a fractured left hand, said of his play on the left side in a spot normally occupied by Chara and then Liles. “As a group we did pretty good. I think my partners made it easy on me and we did a good job moving the puck through the neutral zone, not messing around with it too much. I think a lot of this ended up on the left, so as a whole I think we did a pretty good job.”

In the first of three head-to-heads against the Flyers this season, the Bruins will need a group effort to limit a Philly attack that’s scored the second-most goals in the NHL and put 40-plus shots on net in back-to-back contests and six times overall this season.

The Bruins dropped two of their three games against the Flyers a season ago.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Jimmy Hayes scored his first goal in 36 games in Sunday's 4-1 win over the Lightning. (Greg M.</span></p>
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Five minutes into their third straight game without captain Zdeno Chara, though a 4-1 win for the Bruins over the Lightning at TD Garden, the Black and Gold lost the club’s next longest tenured NHL defenseman, John-Michael Liles.

On a shorthanded drive towards the net, the 36-year-old Liles was tripped up by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop and sent flying out of control headfirst towards the endboards.

Liles also appeared to have been clipped in the head by B’s forward Austin Czarnik on the crash.

Down their de facto top pairing partner for Brandon Carlo, the Bruins were forced to roll with five defensemen (and four at certain points, too, with Torey Krug in the penalty box for the first eight minutes plus of the second period), and still limited a high-energy Lightning attack to 31 shots on goal, 15 of which came in a blowout of a third period.

“It was pretty early on that we lost Johnny,” Colin Miller said of the team’s defensive effort. “We did a good job responding. I think when you get down to five guys you’re not really thinking you’re just playing and sometimes that’s even better.”

In Liles’ absence, the Bruins rotated five defensemen, and it was Kevan Miller (in just his third game back after missing the first 19 contests of the season), that finished with a team-leading 26:42 of time on ice.

“It’s just the situation that happened,” Miller admitted after the win. “There’s nothing you can do about it, it happens during the season. Like I said before, no one is going to fill [Zdeno] Chara’s spot. As a group we kind of need to collectively pick each other up and make sure we’re ready to go. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

The B’s did not have an update on Liles after the game.

“Obviously he crashed in the boards, and I think the replay I saw, it might have been a knee to the head, so they were obviously evaluating him for that injury,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said when asked for an update on Liles. 

“I was told he wasn’t coming back, and from there I don’t know what more is happening.”

Liles, acquired from the Hurricanes at the trade deadline last year, has five assists in 22 games this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The nine-month old monkey on the back of Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes has been finally, successfully thrown out of TD Garden.

The Bruins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay at TD Garden Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Lightning at TD Garden Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The nine-month old monkey on the back of Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes has been finally, successfully thrown out of TD Garden.

One of just two forwards with at least 19 games played and not a single point (the Hurricanes’ Jay McClement is the other) entering Sunday’s matinee affair with the Lightning, the much maligned winger has seemingly been through a life’s worth of bad luck in his hometown.

But that finally changed Sunday, as it was Hayes that scored the Bruins’ third goal of the win, off a great feed from David Krejci, and good for Hayes’ first goal of the season and his first in 36 games dating back to last season (Feb. 24 against the Penguins).

The cap to a three-goal middle period from the Bruins, with goals from Dominic Moore and a power-play goal from David Backes, Hayes’ tally came on his 34th shot of the season (and on his 58th shot on net since his last goal), and really put dagger in the Lightning through 40 minutes, with the Hayes goal scored with just 2:27 left in the period.

The Bruins added another in the third period, just for good measure, with a David Pastrnak puck banked off Tyler Johnson and through Ben Bishop, good for No. 88’s third in as many games since returning from an upper-body injury. Challenged on the shot by the Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek, the goal was Pastrnak’s team-leading 13th goal of the season (in just 17 games played).

The Lightning finally countered the B’s strikes with a Jonathan Drouin goal scored with just 2:39 left in the game.

With goals from four different scorers in a 4-1 final, the Bruins found balance, but no goal likely meant more than Hayes’.

Here are four other things, not related to monkeys living on backs, that we learned in a 4-0 win for the Bruins

Tuukka Rask impressive early and often in 12th win of season

Although he lost his shutout with just 2:39 left in the third period, there were absolutely no possible complaints with the game by Tuukka Rask played today. And we’ve already said that more times than we did all of last year. It’s no secret that the 29-year-old Rask has taken his game to another level this season, but Rask was especially strong in a winning effort Sunday, with several stops on looks right in front of his net, and ultimately finished today’s game with stops on all but one of 31 shots against.

Bruins keep vaunted Lightning power play off board

Win the special teams battle and you’ll win the game most nights.

The Bruins did just that, too, as a dominant Lightning power play that entered today’s contest ranked fourth in the NHL was held to an 0-for-2 mark and had just one shot on goal in defeat. It was really strength-on-strength for these two teams, too, as the Black and Gold ranked fourth in the league on the penalty kill this season heading into action. What made their Sunday success all the more impressive was that they did it without both Chara and Liles, two of their regular killing defenders.

At the other end, the Bruins took care of their power play opportunities, with a 1-for-1 mark on the man advantage.

Fourth line puts forth strong effort 

It’s no secret that the Bruins need more from their bottom six. (Heck, you could probably say that they need more from their second line, too.) But the Bruins found an extra jolt of life today behind a strong showing from the team’s new-look fourth line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes on the wings for center Dominic Moore. Of course, it’s easy to talk about how great the fourth line looked on a night in which two of its three members scored a goal and all three recorded points (Spooner had an assist on the Moore goal), but this group really seemed to make pushes and create chances in the offensive zone.

Against a deep Lightning forward corps, the Bruins needed a lift from that unit and they got just that.

Also: Moore now has six goals in 22 games played this season. He scored just six times for the Rangers last year… in 80 games.

John-Michael Liles exits with upper-body injury

Down Zdeno Chara (lower-body) for the third straight game, the Bruins were dealt another blow on their backend Sunday when John-Michael Liles crashed into the endboards with a thunderous impact early in the first period.

Tripped up by Ben Bishop’s stuck on a shorthanded opportunity, the 36-year-old went crashing headfirst into the boards, and hardly moved for the first 20-30 seconds he was down on Garden ice. Eventually helped to his feet, Liles was escorted down the tunnel and did not return to action with what the team has dubbed an upper-body injury.

One of three left-handed defensemen on the B’s roster (and one of two dressed for this contest), Liles’ night ended after just 2:24.

Liles has five assists and 19 shots on goal in 22 games this season.

Up next, the Bruins will travel down to Philadelphia for a Tuesday night contest with the Flyers.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Colin Miller

Colin Miller

In their first matinee of the season, the Bruins will see one of their defensemen return to the lineup Sunday against the visiting Lightning. Unfortunately for the B’s, it’s just not the one they really need back.

A healthy scratch in the last six games, Colin Miller will draw back into the defensive rotation for the Bruins today in place of Joe Morrow, who recorded one assist in six games in Miller’s spot, while B’s captain Zdeno Chara will miss his third straight game.

On a third pairing with Kevan Miller, the 24-year-old Miller returns to action with one goal and two points in 15 games this season, including a goal against the Canadiens on Nov. 8.

The other defensive pairings will remain the same, with John-Michael Liles paired with Brandon Carlo, and Torey Krug with Adam McQuaid.

Some good news on the Chara front, though, is that the 39-year-old did skate on his own early this morning.

The Bruins are 0-2-0 without Chara this season.

Tuukka Rask gets the start in the B’s net while Tampa Bay counters with Ben Bishop.

This is the second of five head-to-heads between the Bruins and Bolts this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins have scored just four goals in their last 198 minutes of hockey. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have scored just four times in their last 198 minutes of hockey. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

A year-long struggle to find scoring has finally caught up to the Bruins.

In the team’s third straight loss Friday, a 2-1 final to the Flames at TD Garden, and their fourth loss in their last five games overall, the Bruins managed to score just one goal on 36 shots against Flames netminder Chad Johnson. It was their second straight night in which the Bruins scored just a single goal, and their sixth time scoring one goal or fewer in 21 games to date this year (they’re 1-5-0 in those games).

“We had a lot of shots in front of the net but the biggest thing is we’re not scoring goals,” B’s coach Claude Julien admitted after the loss. “Some of it is, we’ve got to hit the net with prime scoring chances. That’s one of them. The second one is, it’s okay to get scoring opportunities, but how do you create the second one off the original one, and I don’t see us getting those much so far this year.”

The Bruins even had a 12:34 stretch in which they shot 17 consecutive shots on Johnson from the final 5:34 of the second period into the first seven minutes of the third, but had just one goal to show for it, on the 16th shot of that timeframe, no less.

Quantity, not quality, has been the name of the game for the Black and Gold’s offensive game this season.

But one of the biggest problems for the Bruins in their most recent loss was their inability to generate quality looks in the opening two periods of play, with just 16 shots on 39 attempts. In the third period, though, the Bruins turned it on, with 20 shots on goal and 36 attempts overall. But still, as mentioned, had just one goal to show for it, a team-leading 12th goal from David Pastrnak.

It’s worth noting that Pastrnak scored the lone goal of the Bruins’ 3-1 loss to the Senators the night before, too.

“I’m trying to help the team as much as I can,” the 20-year-old Pastrnak, who had missed the previous three games before the Ottawa game Thursday night, said. “Some games, I’m going to score, some games, it’s other guys. As long as we’re going to pick up the two points, it doesn’t matter who is going to score. Ten games can be different. For us, we need to find a way to score goals. We need to do more in front of the net and get pucks through. One game, we have guys in front and can’t get the pucks through. In other games, we get the pucks through and we don’t have anyone in front.”

“In the third period – what more can you ask? We shot pucks at the net, we had chances,” Julien continued of the team’s third period awakening. “Frustration right now sets in when you’re not scoring and guys are squeezing their sticks and sometimes the simple plays becomes tougher plays so we’ve got to try and get over that hump.”

It didn’t help that the Flames scored the eventual game-winning goal just two shots after that 17-shot barrage from the Black and Gold, on Alex Chiasson’s third goal of the season, 1:10 after Pastrnak’s goal.

“Very unfortunate,” Boston defender Kevan Miller, on the ice for both Calgary goals tonight, said of the Chiasson goal. “We were pushing pretty hard there and I think we did a pretty good job getting back after that but we got to tighten up.”

With just one goal, the Bruins have now scored just four goals in their last 198:19 of hockey, or since Tim Schaller’s dagger of a third period goal against Winnipeg last Saturday, and just eight on their last 160 shots on goal over their last five games.

“I think we’re keeping our cool pretty good,” B’s forward Schaller said of any frustrations after the defeat. “We know we have enough skill in this room to put up a lot of goals every night, and we’ve just got to stick with it, and we showed at the end there, where we can shoot and we can put pucks on net. But we’ve got to stay the course, and stay calm, and not get frustrated.”

“We have to put this together,” Pastrnak said. “Then we’ll be fine.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson