Brad Marchand scored the 20th shorthanded goal of his career in a 3-0 win. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Brad Marchand scored the 20th shorthanded goal of his career in a 4-0 win over the Panthers on Saturday night. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

After having dodged a fall out of the playoff structure for what’s felt like weeks, the Bruins woke up on the outside looking in on Saturday after a Friday night win by the Maple Leafs that bumped the Leafs into third in the Atlantic Division and the B’s down to ninth in the East.

It just might have been the wake-up call that some of the Bruins’ leaders, bolstered by a return of David Backes after having missed the previous three games with a concussion, needed in a 4-0 win over James Reimer and the Panthers at the BB&T Center.

But that wake-up call didn’t come off the jump.

Instead, and as usual, the Bruins started incredibly slow, and likely would have been in a hole to begin the night had it not been the usually dynamite-against-Florida play of Tuukka Rask. But they escaped further trouble when Brad Marchand stormed down on Reimer on a shorthanded break and connected for his 11th goal of the season.

The goal was Marchand’s first shorthanded goal of the season, which gives him shorthanded markers in seven straight seasons, and 20 for his NHL career. It’s the most in the league over that span, and only three active players (Marian Hossa has a league-high 33 while Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette have each scored 22 shorthanded goals) have scored more than Marchand’s 20 career shorthanded goals, and all three have played at least 400-plus more games than Marchand in their careers.

Marchand’s goal served as the perfect escape route for the B’s after 20 minutes of play, who led by one through the first period, and the club built off that when they extended their lead to two behind Backes’ deflection early in the second period, and then a power-play goal by Marchand thanks to a monstrous rebound by Reimer off a Torey Krug shot made it 3-0 at 9:40 in the second.

The Panthers had a chance to get back into the game with a power play late in the second period, but they were shut down behind a major shift from Zdeno Chara, and one that finished after 2:15 of time on ice for the 39-year-old captain.

It was the last gasp for the Panthers in a night that was all Bruins once the club got over the initial flurry against.

The common thread for the Black and Gold in this skid-snapping victory? The contributions came from their best.

Just two nights after an emotional Chara lamented the fact that the team really felt that they had let down the family of legendary Bruins figure Milt Schmidt on the day after his death, the B’s leaders came to play. You saw what a game-changing talent Marchand can be when he’s playing at his true level; Marchand not only scored big goals, but he drew the Panthers into a smart offside on what could have been a great chance when he got tangled up at the bench door with two Panther skaters, and then later drew a penalty in garbage time to truly put an end to Florida’s night. David Krejci and Backes really seemed to be on the same page in terms of their three-zone chemistry. Chara and the rest of the B’s defense put forth a mammoth defensive night and made the Panthers earn every inch of space in the B’s zone, and even then, they didn’t get much as most of their shots were held from up high and out of any real danger zone. And Tuukka Rask stopped all 25 shots thrown his way for his fifth shutout of the year.

If that becomes the norm (which really needs to happen if the Bruins are going to stay afloat in this division given the number of games in hand by the teams either above or below them), the B’s won’t have to worry about reading the morning standings.

The Bruins will look to make it two in a row and find some consistency with a Sunday head-to-head with the Hurricanes.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
David Backes

David Backes

The Bruins and David Backes have been patient. Patience they hope will finally pay off.

Out for the last three games with a concussion, one that Backes considers the fourth of his NHL career, there have been days where the 32-year-old has felt probable, and others where he’s felt doubtful in regards to his ability to play. Sometimes the doubtful days have followed the probable days.

But after a Friday practice back in Boston in which Backes was out later than most Bruins for some extra conditioning, and after a full participation in Saturday’s morning skate, the do-it-all forward appears to be a go for the struggling Bruins for tonight’s road head-to-head with the Panthers.

“Head injuries are pretty important things to deal with and we don’t push anybody to come back with a concussion until we feels he’s 100 percent,” Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team has dropped two in a row and 11 of their last 16 overall, said following the pregame skate. “[Backes] didn’t last time before we played Edmonton and we didn’t hesitate, we didn’t let him play, so we’ll see how everything goes here.”

Expected back in the lineup and on the second line with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner, Backes’ boost will be a big one for a Bruins team that’s gone 4-4-0 without him (Backes missed five games earlier this season with an elbow injury), but have been outscored 21-to-11 in those eight games.

It’s a game against the Panthers, so you know what that means: Tuukka Rask gets the nod in net for the Bruins.

The 29-year-old has been his normal dominant self against the Panthers this year, with three wins and a .947 save percentage in three games, and has won 18 of 22 career games against the Panthers along with a .949 save percentage.

Rask is still searching for his first win of the 2017, though, with two losses and a .880 in two games played.

The Panthers counter with James Reimer for the second time in as many nights. Reimer stopped 28-of-29 shots in a 2-1 win over Nashville on Friday night, and comes into action with seven wins and a .930 save percentage in 16 career starts against the Black and Gold. Reimer stopped 30-of-32 in a losing effort in his last start against the Bruins.

This is the fourth of five meetings between the Bruins and Panthers this year. The B’s have won all three meetings so far.

Here are the expected lines and pairings…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – David Backes

Frank Vatrano – Austin Czarnik – Jimmy Hayes

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Noel Acciari

Noel Acciari

The Bruins will have an empty seat on their flight down to Florida for the start of a four-game road trip, as forward Noel Acciari has been assigned to the American Hockey League.

After missing a month of action with a knee injury, the hard-hitting Acciari skated in seven NHL games since a Dec. 10 recall, and recorded 18 hits and seven shots on goal.

He had been a healthy scratch in six of the club’s last seven games.

Overall, the 25-year-old has skated in 19 games for the B’s this season, with two assists.

The Johnston, R.I., native has skated in one game with the P-Bruins this season, with one assist.

Acciari’s reassignment likely comes with the hope that David Backes, who has missed the last three games with a concussion, is ready to return to action on Saturday night against Florida.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins should make a deal for Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog.</span></p>
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Zdeno Chara feels the Bruins let down Milt Schmidt's family with Thursday's effort. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Zdeno Chara feels the Bruins let down Milt Schmidt’s family with Thursday’s effort. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The night began with a sellout crowd giving the departed Milt Schmidt, who passed away at the age of 98 Wednesday night, one final standing ovation. It ended with a familiar scene: the Bruins booed off the ice in what was the club’s 10th loss in 19 home games this season, this time by a 4-3 final against Connor McDavid and the visiting Oilers.

It was not how B’s defenseman Zdeno Chara, sitting in his stall with his equipment still on long after the game ended, as if he was hoping for one more shift in search of the game-tying goal, saw the night going for the team he’s captained for the last decade.

“It was a night where it was dedicated to Milt [Schmidt] and what he has done and I felt that we let him and obviously his family, including the fans down,” a visibly frustrated and emotional Chara said after the loss. “I was obviously close to Milt and it would be nothing better than winning the game in his honor and for what he has done.”

The truth is just Thursday was just the latest frustration for a Bruins team that can’t seem to get out of its own way in search of some consistency, with just five wins in their last 16 games, and just one winning streak over that stretch.

As has been the case most of this season, the Bruins won the shot battle and outshot the Oilers 36-to-25. But the shots don’t matter unless they go in, and the B’s were ultimately dropped by two third-period goals from the Oilers, including the third of the night from Patrick Maroon. And by the time the Black and Gold answered with a David Krejci power-play goal with 2:56 left, it was much too late and could not tie things up against Cam Talbot before the clock ran out.

“A wasted good effort,” B’s coach Claude Julien said. “I thought we played hard, we played well, we had lots of chances, and we didn’t give them much. But every breakdown we seemed to have ends up in the back of our net. So, those are frustrating nights; they’re frustrating losses, especially when you need to win. So, definitely that’s how I look at it.”

“We were the better team, there’s no questions there,” Julien continued, “we just gave them too many gifts.”

“We have to keep working on things, keep working hard and be committed to do it better,” said Chara. 

The loss put an end to the organization’s 16-game point streak (13-0-3) against the Oilers.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The World Junior championship game between the United States and rival Canada somehow exceeded expectations, as the U.S. beat Canada in a shootout after twice coming back from two goals down.

The World Junior championship game between the United States and rival Canada somehow exceeded expectations, as the U.S. beat Canada in a shootout after twice coming back from two goals down.

Hockey fans in general had plenty to be excited about, but Bruins fans in particular had to like what they saw. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins’ first-round pick last summer and a current sophomore at Boston University, was one of the best players on the ice, as he registered a pretty goal and an even better-looking assist.

His goal came 3:04 into the second period and cut Canada’s lead to 2-1. McAvoy took a pass in the high slot, walked in and fired a shot glove-side past Canada goalie Carter Hart.

McAvoy jumpstarted another comeback early in the third when he faked out a Canadian defenseman and made a beautiful backhand pass through the slot to set up BU teammate Kieffer Bellows for a one-time goal that made it 4-3 Canada.

On the other side of the ice, another Bruins defense prospect also scored. Jeremy Lauzon, a B’s second-round pick in 2015, scored Canada’s second goal of the game when he collected a loose puck in the slot and ripped a shot high blocker.

In addition to the goal McAvoy assisted on, Bellows (an Islanders first-round pick) also scored the Americans’ second goal of the game when he deflected in a point shot from Harvard defenseman Adam Fox (Flames third-round pick), who had three assists in the game after notching just one point in the first six games of the tournament.

Boston College’s Colin White (Senators first-round pick) joined in on the fun, as he scored the US goal that tied the game at 4-4 midway through the third when he tapped in a nice pass to the doorstep from Fox. The goal was White’s seventh in seven games this tournament, putting him second behind Russia’s Kirill Kaprizov.

BU’s Clayton Keller (Coyotes first-round pick) also assisted on that White goal and finished the tournament with a team-high 11 points. Fellow Terrier Jordan Greenway (Wild second-round pick) had an assist as well and finished with eight points total.

Ducks prospect Troy Terry was the shootout hero, just as he was in the semifinals against Russia. After each side’s first three shooters failed to score, Terry beat Hart to put the US ahead. Flames prospect Tyler Parsons, who made 46 saves in the game, then came up with two more stops to seal the win.

The gold was the United States’ fourth overall and first since 2013.

The BU and BC stars are expected to return to their college teams in time for Saturday’s Frozen Fenway games. BU takes on UMass at 1:30 p.m., while BC faces Providence at 5.

And while we’re talking about Bruins prospects and college hockey, 2015 second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored three goals, including the overtime winner, to lead BU to a 5-4 win over Union Thursday night while several of his teammates were battling for gold.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin
Zdeno Chara fights Patrick Maroon in the first period of Thursday's game against the Oilers. (Greg M. Cooper)

Zdeno Chara fights Patrick Maroon in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Oilers. (Greg M. Cooper)

It would have real bad had the Bruins no-showed against the Oilers.

Forget the fact that the night began with a thunderous moment of applause for the departed Milt Schmidt, a Bruins legend of 80 years, that passed away Wednesday night at the age of 98. Forget the fact that the Oilers came to Boston with losses in three of their last four games. But don’t forget the fact that the Bruins entered play on the heels of perhaps their worst loss of the season, a 3-0 loss to the Devils on Monday night and have been left to cling with a two-point lead for third place in the Atlantic Division and with the teams chasing them having multiple games in hand over the club.

In January, and with the memories of two straight fades out of postseason contention (though they came much later in the season each time) still fresh, the Bruins are in desperation mode.

It showed at different points in their head-to-head with the Oilers, too. Team captain Zdeno Chara answered the bell and dropped the gloves with the Oilers’ Pat Maroon, who scored the game’s first goal just 1:08 into play, after a high hit in the attacking zone. And though Chara’s fight resulted in an end to the B’s offensive-zone domination of the Oilers at that point, it became a theme of the period, and ultimately resulted in a tied game through 20 minutes behind Colin Miller’s third goal of the season.

Still, it was not enough, though, as a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal just 14 seconds into a tied third period broke the B’s backs, and the completion of a Maroon hat trick midway through the period served as a final nail in the coffin in a 4-3 loss to the Oilers.

At this point, you’re really out of things to say in regards to the Black and Gold’s struggles.

This was another night in which the Bruins really controlled the pace of play and frequently hemmed the opposition in their own zone. The Bruins carried a 13-to-8 shot advantage through 20 minutes, but skated to a 1-1 tie. Then they carried a 28-to-17 shot advantage into the second intermission, but again were tied, this time by a 2-2 score. Then, of course, came the disastrous third, and when that happened, and when the third Maroon goal was challenged by the Bruins in hopes of an offside that would call the tally back fell short, the Bruins were looked too jarred to make any sort of real comeback.

Gifted with a 5-on-3 for over a minute, the Bruins once again made things interesting behind a David Krejci power-play goal, but could not find the 6-on-5 game-tying tally before the clock once again ran out of time.

In what finished as another shots on goal win for the Bruins, the B’s failed to get the game-tying goal when their deficit was only one in the third period, and fell to their sixth one-goal loss during a 16-game stretch in which they’ve gone just 5-8-3.

Given the loosening of their grip on third place in the division, and the year-long frustrations in the timely goals department, the Bruins are long beyond the point or moral victories — and this loss didn’t even have one of those. And you have to imagine that the patience from an already antsy front office that’s watched this team struggle here all year long is undoubtedly wearing thin.

Frustrations that can only compound after a loss to a club littered with former Bruins and led by their old GM Peter Chiarelli.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins will honor Milt Schmidt before tonight's game against the Oilers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will honor Milt Schmidt before tonight’s game against the Oilers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins lost an icon on and off the ice with the passing of Milt Schmidt at the age of 98 Wednesday night.

And while it’s hard to truly honor a player that devoted nearly eight decades of his life to the Bruins, the B’s will do their best when they play host to the Oilers at TD Garden Thursday night.

First, the Bruins will honor Schmidt’s legacy with a pregame tribute prior to tonight’s game. In addition, two on-ice graphics with Schmidt’s retired jersey No. 15 have been painted behind both nets and will remain there for the entire month of January.

The Bruins will also wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys featuring Schmidt’s number 15 for the rest of the 2016-17 season.

The B’s have also lowered Schmidt’s retired number banner down closer to the ice down from its usual post with the other nine retired jerseys.

Schmidt, who was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, is the only person in Bruins history to have served the club as a player, captain, coach and general manager. He won more Stanley Cup Championships with Boston than any other person, capturing two as a player in 1939 and 1941 and two more as the club’s general manager in 1970 and 1972. Schmidt was a four-time All-Star, won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP in 1951 and the Ross Trophy as the NHL’s scoring champion in 1940.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins know they need high-end scoring. The entire league knows the Bruins need high-end scoring, for that matter.