Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 41 saves in Game 5. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 41 saves in Game 5. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

If you still think that Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is incapable of slamming the door shut or stealing a game for the Bruins, well, continue watching these games with your eyes closed.

After the 30-year-old did everything he could to will his team to victory in a 1-0 Game 4 loss on Wednesday night, with stops on all but one of the 27 shots thrown his way, Rask cranked up the pressure and simply forced his way to a double-overtime victory in a must-win Game 5, with a season-high 41 saves in a 3-2 final for the Bruins.

And it didn’t start out that way.

Two defensive breakdowns led to two breakaways and two goals in the opening 20:30 of this game, the first from Mark Stone and the second from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Combine that with the B’s inability to put anything even close to an offensive charge against Sens goaltender Craig Anderson — the Bruins finished the first period with as many shots as icings, with six — and it seemed as if Rask and the Bruins were on the express lane to elimination.

“Well we hung him out there early,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Rask.

“Tough saves, breakaways right out of the gate.”

But the Bruins clawed back within one goal thanks to David Pastrnak. Rask kept it a one-goal game.

Then Sean Kuraly’s first NHL goal brought the Bruins even. Still, Rask kept it a tied game.

And then Rask and the B’s were truly tested when the B’s committed two boneheaded penalties in the final five minutes and change of the third period, as the Bruins were first whistled for a puck over the glass penalty (and lost one of their go-to penalty killers, Dominic Moore, on the call) and then almost immediately after for a too many men on the ice call.

With the season by all means hanging in the balance given how late the penalties were in that game, Rask came up with three gigantic stops, including one last one just few away from his goal mouth on Stone, and overtime was on the way.

It was in the first overtime that Rask came up with actual season-saving saves, stopping all 13 shots thrown his way. It featured the full Rask arsenal, too, as he squared up with his body, used his glove, and made stellar butterfly moves, too.

But as the Bruins fought and clawed, seemingly needing to score three goals just to score one, Rask saved his best for last, as he made a game-saving breakaway stop on Kyle Turris as he split through the Boston defense in the second overtime.

“I think Tuukka was like the rest of us; When he saw the temperature of the game go up, I believe he saw that ‘Listen, these guys are here to play. If I make some saves for them, we’ll get back into it.’ That’s how I felt he responded,” Cassidy said. “I think he saw that we were going to make our push. Good for him for hanging in there and giving us a chance to win.”

With 41 saves in the win, Rask bumped his playoff save percentage up to .924 from .913 (his even-strength save percentage is now at .931, by the way), and he has now stopped all but three of the last 70 shots thrown his way in this series.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
David Krejci left Friday's game with a lower-body injury. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Bruins center David Krejci left Friday’s game with a lower-body injury. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

After missing the first two games of the series, and with a limited impact in two games since making his return to action, it’s clear that Bruins center David Krejci is playing at less than 100 percent.

The Sens knocked that percentage down a few points on Friday night when they took the crafty pivot out with an unpenalized knee-on-knee hit in the first period of a Game 5 double-overtime win for the Bruins.

Nailed by Ottawa defenseman Chris Wideman just over the Boston blue line near the left wall, Krejci crumpled to a heap before he slowly made his way up and down the tunnel for the rest of the night.

It was a kick in the head that the Black and Gold, who are already three regulars on their backend and with Ryan Spooner scratched and at ‘less than 100 percent’, did not need. But it also served as the motivation the Bruins needed to pick themselves up and get back into this game.

“I think when the hit on Krejci, you know when [the Senators] started chirping Krejci, I think the guys — that rankled them a little bit,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of his team. “It’s one thing to play hard, it’s another thing, here’s a veteran guy in the NHL, a proven performer, and a young kid starts lipping him. I think that really got to our guys to be honest with you.”

With Krejci limped back to the dressing room, the Bruins dropped down to 11 forwards and had to mix and match their centers throughout the night, but found a way to match the Sens energy on a shift-to-shift basis.

“It sort of turned the temperature up in the game from there on,” said Cassidy. “That was a break for us in that regard. It’s an unfortunate break that we lose a player, but it sort of got our attention and from there I thought we were a pretty good team.”

Senators coach Guy Boucher, meanwhile, says he has ‘no idea’ what Cassidy is talking about.

His status for Game 6 remains unknown.

“He’s lower-body, he’ll be listed as day-to-day until I hear anything different,” Cassidy said.

Limited to just 6:21 thanks to the early departure, the 30-year-old Krejci, who ranked third among B’s skaters in goals (23) and points (54) during the regular season, has zero points and three shots on goal in three games this series.


Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Bruins-Senators Game 5. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins outlasted the Senators for a double-overtime win in a must-win Game 5 in Ottawa. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

This first round series against the Senators has been the series in which everything that could go wrong for the Bruins has, but by just a few inches. Friday’s Game 5 at Canadian Tire Center followed that theme out of the gate, too, as the Bruins found themselves in an 0-2 hole and down one of their top-six skaters not even 21 minutes into the game.

But as they have so many times this season, the Bruins found a way to dodge death, and have sent this series back to Boston for a Game 6 behind a 3-2 double-overtime win in Ottawa.

In an attempt to return to the aggressive nature that worked so well for them during the early stages of Bruce Cassidy’s tenure, Joe Morrow pinched in down low in an attempt to keep an offensive possession alive. But when he was tripped up and the Sens went the other way, neither Noel Acciari or Dominic Moore followed through with support for Morrow beyond the neutral zone, as Mark Stone danced in behind three Bruins with ease for a breakaway goal against Tuukka Rask.

To make matters worse of a first period that featured an 0-1 hole and six icings for the Black and Gold, second line center David Krejci, who missed the first two games of the series because of an apparent upper-body injury sustained right before the start of the playoffs, was taken out of the game on an unpenalized leg-on-leg/knee-on-knee hit from Chris Wideman.

It somehow got worse from there, as Jean-Gabriel Pageau snuck behind an overly aggressive B’s top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy — a gaffe that was really created by the 40-year-old captain and not so much the five-game NHLer McAvoy — and stormed in for Ottawa’s second breakaway goal of the night and a 2-0 Sens lead just 30 seconds into the second period.

So, that’s two breakaway goals and no Krejci (or the center behind him, Ryan Spooner) in an elimination game.

This one was over.

But like they have so many times this year, the Bruins refused to die.

David Pastrnak scored the B’s first goal in over 120 minutes of hockey (he scored the last one, too) when he beat Craig Anderson at the 8:40 mark of the period. The Bruins then survived an Acciari puck over glass penalty, and Sean Kuraly rewarded them with a net-front goal banked off Wideman’s leg and in for the first goal of Kuraly’s NHL career, scored at 17:05 of the frame.

This was the Bruins following through with what they talked about at great length after each of their losses. They were generating looks in front of Anderson, and burying the second-chance opportunities that came with it.

So, at an unlikely 2-2 draw through 40 minutes of action, their season came down to 20 minutes.

Ottawa’s first great chance of the period came as a result of a bad change from Acciari and Moore, who made moves to the bench when they were just feet from the puck, which allowed Dion Phaneuf to get into the B’s zone with numbers, where he fed Stone for a puck that rang the post against Rask and kept this game knotted at 2-2.

From there, the Bruins dominated the third period, with battle victory after battle victory, and they found everything but a goal.

But after two straight icings, the Sens began to wear the Bruins down, and found their best chance when Mike Hoffman had an edge on McAvoy before he ripped a shot that trickled just inches wide from what would have been the go-ahead goal.

The Bruins continued to push the pace at the other end, and really limited the Sens’ looks on Rask, but made things tricky when Moore’s night to forget continued with a puck over the glass penalty late in the third period. The Bruins killed that off. And less than a minute later, and in a case of how-the-hell-does-this-happen, they were whistled for a too many men on the ice penalty.

Somehow, someway, the Bruins killed that off, too, and it was onto overtime for the third time in five games this series.

The penalty scale shifted in the B’s favor two minutes into the overtime, however, as Clarke MacArthur was whistled for a high stick on Colin Miller. The Bruins had their looks, including beautiful chances between the circles for both Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, but neither would go, and on the two teams played.

From there, it became the Rask Show, as the 30-year-old B’s ace made massive stop after stop, including a save job of what was a horrible McAvoy d-zone turnover that gave the Sens numbers on No. 40.

As they went end-to-end, the Bruins appeared to score when Kuraly came in on Anderson with speed. And when his shot was denied by Anderson, Acciari was there to bang a rebound in off an Ottawa body and in for the game-winning goal. But the referees had their say, and determined there was no goal due to goaltender interference, but went to the situation room review.

After a lengthy review, it somehow stood, and once again, on they played.

The Bruins nearly scored once more, but Pageau came through when he saved the puck off the line with his hand, and appeared to cover it. But again, and after a review, there was no penalty, no goal, nothing to appease the Bruins. And as if the games was being officiated by a crooked professional wrestling referee with a bad bowtie, with no regard for the NHL rulebook that clearly states Pageau’s actions as a penalty shot for the Bruins, on they played.

To a second overtime.

36 into the second extra frame, Bergeron was whistled for interference, and the Bruins returned to the penalty kill. Even down their best faceoff center, and their best two-way, perennial Selke Trophy favorite, the B’s killed it.

As fatigue took hold, bodies started flying everywhere, on they played.

Still, both Anderson and Rask stood tall. Rask came up a monstrous breakaway stop on Kyle Turris, and just moments later it was Anderson that withstood a prolonged battering from the Bruins, ended with a beautiful glove save.

After an ice scrape to reset the sheet, a clean win by David Backes dropped the puck to Charlie McAvoy, and on a putaway from Kuraly, for his second goal of the night, the Bruins forced a Game 6 in Boston on Sunday.

In what was the 15th longest game in Bruins history, Rask survived with 41 stops on 43 shots against.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins have not scored a first period goal this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have not scored a first period goal this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins finished the regular season with the 72 first period goals. That figured ranked as the sixth-most in the NHL, too. That tune has changed in the postseason, however, and has worked against the Bruins for a 3-1 series deficit heading into a must-win Game 5.

Through the first four games of their round one series with the Senators, the Bruins have yet to score a first period goal. Zero. Of the 16 playoff teams, only the Blackhawks have experienced a similar fate, and they were eliminated in four games behind last night’s series-sweeping 4-1 defeat at the hands of Pekka Rinne and the Predators.

The Bruins were better in the first period of the last game, too, but were unable to find the back of the net on 12 opening frame shots.

“The positives are we had very good chances early on. We were flat in the first period the other night (Game 3), we wanted to address that,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Wednesday’s Game 4 loss, the club’s third loss in a row and what ended as a 22-shot night for the B’s. “We’ve had pretty good first periods here getting leads and getting teams on their heels and tilting the ice our way. It started that way. It just didn’t finish.

“Give [Craig Anderson] credit. But, you’ve got to stick with it.”

That’s the thing for the Bruins, too. The Senators, especially at home, are more than content to sit back and let this game come to them. They’ve held the Bruins to less than 30 shots in all four games of this series, and Anderson has rarely been tested for high-quality chances against on anything close to a consistent basis. All four of these games have been one-goal decisions, and they’ve favored the Sens in three straight games, so why would they change their approach? It’s worked.

So, if there’s a time for the B’s best wingers, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, to show up, it’s in the first period of this game.

Marchand, who has one goal in four games this series, came to play with his best period of the series in the opening 20 of Game 4, with two breakaways and a one-timer that went just wide of a direct connection, has scored 10 goals and 26 points (the 21-most points in the NHL) in ‘close’ games during the regular season. He’s also saved some of his best goals this year for when the Black and Gold were up against the wall. Pastrnak, meanwhile, has fired just two shots on goal this series, and could be a true gamebreaker in the sense that the Sens do not have many defenders that can match the speed of the 20-year-old winger. That can show, too, if the Sens rely on deploying Erik Karlsson against the club’s third line, which they have done quite a bit this series.

Elsewhere in the lineup, Ryan Spooner will be a somewhat healthy scratch for Sean Kuraly. The 24-year-old Kuraly skated in the first two games of this series, and had five hits and a blocked shot in 16:21 of total time on ice.

Tuukka Rask gets the call in the B’s net. Rask did everything but get the win in his last start, with stops on 26-of-27 shots in a 1-0 loss, and comes into action with a .913 save percentage for the series. Anderson will be in the Ottawa crease. He stopped all 22 shots against in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory, and has surrendered just eight goals on 96 shots against this series.

The Bruins have never come back from a 3-1 series deficit, but have found a way to force a Game 7 in their last two 3-1 holes.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Drew Stafford – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

Tim Schaller – Sean Kuraly – Frank Vatrano

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Joe Morrow – Kevan Miller

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask


Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins have never overcome a 3-1 series deficit. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)The Bruins are once again teetering towards the cliff that would spell their demise.

Game 5 in Ottawa will be played without one of the club’s key power-play contributors and 78-game presence during the regular season, as Bruins center Ryan Spooner will miss tonight’s must-win contest.

Ryan Spooner will miss Game 5 tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Ryan Spooner will miss Game 5 tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Game 5 in Ottawa will be played without one of the club’s key power-play contributors and 78-game presence during the regular season, as Bruins center Ryan Spooner will miss tonight’s must-win contest.

Replaced on a de facto fourth line by Sean Kuraly, who played in Games 1 and 2, for Friday’s morning skate, Spooner’s return to the press box was confirmed by Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy following the morning skate at Canadian Tire Center.

“Ryan’s not 100 percent, and we liked Sean’s game up here,” Cassidy said. “He’s good on getting on pucks, and forecheck has been a big part of how we’re able to create some of our offense, and he gives us that.

“I don’t know what’s going on mentally, but physically yes, [Spooner is] not 100 percent, which listen, there’s guys throughout the series that end up like that, but I don’t want to expand anymore than that. We liked the way Sean’s played, as much as anything.”

In spite of his five-on-five struggles this series, Spooner has been productive at less than 100 percent, with two assists (both secondary assists scored on power-play goals), which means that this ailment has to be something significant, no?

“No, he could play, we’re just making a decision,” admitted Cassidy. “It’s more about what Sean brings right now than Ryan.”

That means that this is more about providing an extra jump in the forechecking and defensive game, which you will get with Kuraly in over Spooner, especially after a Game 4 defensive zone gaffe from his entire line that led to the game’s only goal.

But Spooner’s loss will affect a Boston power play that’s accounted for two of the B’s eight goals through four games. In his place, the Bruins are expected to go with the full load-up plan that will put David Krejci in his spot on the first unit.

“Clearly Ryan does some very good things for us, I’m not going to address everything,” Cassidy said. “But we just made a decision that Sean is a center as well that can also play the wing that will bring us some good qualities as well.”

Kuraly has five hits, a blocked shot, and has won two of five faceoffs in 16:21 of total time on ice in this series.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

What's left of the Bruins' defense has gotten the job done in this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)After 86 games between the regular season and playoffs, the Bruins are what they are.

The Bruins fell into a 3-1 series hole with a 1-0 loss in Game 4 at TD Garden. We got reaction from Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Brad Marchand and more. Watch below. (Video courtesy Josh Dolan.)

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Bruce Cassidy's team has made a habit of taking penalties at bad times. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruce Cassidy’s team has made a habit of taking penalties at bad times. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

For the third game in a row, an untimely penalty was costly for the Bruins.

A too-many-men penalty with 4:10 remaining in the third period forced the Bruins to have to kill time while trailing 1-0, and they then struggled to set their offense in the final two minutes. The Bruins had a 13-minute stretch without a shot on goal, and finished with just 22 overall and never could get into a rhythm late.

“It was a little harder to create some [chances],” said Patrice Bergeron. “Once they got that goal they were closing us a little bit more and we have got to find ways to put pucks in deep and go back to what we’ve been doing earlier in that game.”

That call at the end of the game comes on the heels of a Riley Nash penalty in overtime during Game 3 and a Zdeno Chara delay of game call in Game 2 that led directly to Senators goals that won those contests.

In Game 4, the Bruins penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3, but that doesn’t hide the fact that untimely penalties have been problematic.

Every game in the series has been decided by one goal, all the more reason for discipline to be at the forefront.

“Usually games are very tight,” Chara said. “Some of the games could have went our way but they didn’t and we can’t be blaming that or be frustrated, we need to keep our heads up and get ready for the next one.”

Especially on a shortened roster, where two defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Joe Morrow saw little-to-no time all season, those man-down situations wear out the defense.

“I thought what we’ve asked our defensemen to do, I think they’ve done a pretty good job for guys that got thrown into the situation,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But, part of what we talk about for our guys is to own your moments. You’re getting an opportunity, and one that you probably wanted more of during the year. So, you’re asking a lot. But, by the same token, that’s what’s in front of them.”

The first penalty of the contest was on Kevan Miller in the opening frame, and with he and Chara the only remaining blueliners who were regular penalty killers all season, that proves even more costly.

On the other end, the Bruins also haven’t been able to get calls their way.

“Our power play through the course of the year has generated offense,” said Cassidy. “We haven’t drawn enough penalties too. So, we’ve got to look at ourselves there and say, how can we get on the power play and get inside more often, force them to pull you down a little bit.”

The Bruins have a chance to extend the series to a Game 6 on Garden ice if they can win on Friday in Ottawa, but with an offense that has struggled to put the puck in the net, continuing to give away opportunities could burn them.

Blog Author: 
Marisa Ingemi