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Sunday Skate Live Chat: Offsides Challenge edition

03.13.16 at 5:50 am ET
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Are the Bruins for real after going 5-0-2 thus far since the trade deadline? Is David Pastrnak being handled correctly? How much fun are offsides challenges? Discuss that and more this week on Sunday Skate from 7-9 a.m.. Click here to listen live and join the live chat below.

Live Blog Sunday Skate Live Chat: Offsides Challenge edition
 

5 things we learned as David Pastrnak’s 2 goals help Bruins past Islanders

03.12.16 at 3:36 pm ET
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David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

The Bruins will remain atop the Atlantic Division standings for at least another couple of days.

Playing their final home game before embarking on a difficult four-game road trip, the Bruins picked up a 3-1 win over the Islanders at TD Garden to add distance between them, the Panthers and Lightning in the standings, though their divisional foes still have games in hand.

David Pastrnak scored late in the second period to break a 1-1 tie and scored again in the final minutes for his second two-goal game of the season. Loui Eriksson had a three-point performance, scoring his 26th goal of the season and adding a pair of assists.

Tuukka Rask made 25 saves on 26 shots. With the win, the Bruins are now 5-0-2 since the trade deadline and 4-0-1 against playoff teams in that span.

The Bruins will head out west this week, where they will face the Sharks, Ducks and Kings before facing the Rangers in the finale of the road trip.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:

CHARA GIVES IT UP

Zdeno Chara did not have a good game. The lowest point of his performance came in the second period when Matt Martin knocked him off the puck behind the net and stole the puck with ease. The Islanders ended up scoring on that possession, making Chara’s turnover even more costly.

Chara also negated a third-period power play when he went after Travis Hamonic following a Thomas Hickey high stick on Patrice Bergeron. Rather than the Bruins having a third-period power play with a lead, they ended up having to play 4-on-4 without their best defenseman.

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Patrice Bergeron has maintenance day as Bruins prepare for Islanders

03.11.16 at 12:38 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Patrice Bergeron was the only player absent from Friday’s practice as the Bruins prepared to host the Islanders in the upcoming Saturday matinee.

Bergeron, who committed an ill-timed line change in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday, was given a maintenance day on Friday, according to Claude Julien.

Kevan Miller, who has missed the Bruins’ last three games since taking a hit from behind from Alexander Ovechkin last Saturday, practiced with the Bruins for the second straight day.

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Bruins not loving OT work but earning some dividends

03.11.16 at 12:54 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron

Patrice Bergeron

For the fourth time in six days, the Bruins played bonus hockey on top of their regularly scheduled 60 minutes.

And despite falling in overtime Thursday night at TD Garden to Carolina by a final of 3-2, Boston’s two recent road overtime wins (over Florida and Tampa Bay) tucked between two home overtime losses (to Washington and Carolina) have given the team enough points to surge into first place in the Atlantic Division.

That said, earning the “loser point” in two of the past four contests didn’t have the B’s giddy with excitement in the moments after Carolina’s Phil Di Giuseppe’s buried the OT winner Thursday.

“I don’t think we’re going to make that big of a deal of being in first place,” coach Claude Julien said. “Right now we’re really looking at our game and in that dressing room we’re not happy. Even if it means that point got us in first, we’re certainly not satisfied with that.”

“Right now it kind of stinks to be on the losing side,” echoed centerman David Krejci. “After the tough start we had this year to find ourselves — what is it 70 games in? — in first place that’s pretty impressive. But we’ll more appreciate that tomorrow.”

The Bruins fell to 38-23-8 after their 69th game of the year, to be exact. With 13 games remaining in the season, getting two points instead of just one could make all the difference down the stretch.

“Every point is very important for us, everybody is pushing for playoffs,” said David Pastrnak, whose goal in the third period Thursday evened the score at 2-2 and allowed for Bruins to earn the single point. “Every game is going to be really tight. For us, it’s just about focusing on the details and finishing strong.”

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5 things we learned as Bruins fall to Hurricanes in overtime but move into 1st place

03.10.16 at 9:45 pm ET
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WEEI.com Bruins postgame podcast

Though the Bruins have gotten points out of opponents like the Blackhawks, Capitals, Panthers and Lightning (3-0-1) of late, it’s been non-playoff opponents that seemingly have given them the most trouble.

Much like the Bruins struggled last Tuesday against the Flames, they were hard-pressed to score against the Hurricanes for much of Thursday’s contest in a game they would eventually lose in overtime.

An ill-timed attempted line change from Patrice Bergeron led to a Jeff Skinner breakaway in overtime. Tuukka Rask made the stopped, but Phillip Di Giuseppe got to the rebound and wheeled around to send it into the net and give Carolina a 2-1 win at TD Garden.

The Bruins now are 4-0-2 since the trade deadline. With Thursday’s point, the B’s are now in first place in the Atlantic Division. With 84 points on the season, the B’s are one ahead of Tampa Bay, though the Lightning have two games in hand and will play Friday.

The B’s will next play Saturday when they host the Islanders at the Garden.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

B’S FINALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WARD, BUT NOT ENOUGH

Through the first two periods, Cam Ward allowed just one goal on 24 shots faced. Those numbers were not reflective of his performance.

Ward was a mess on Thursday, rarely stopping anything cleanly. The Bruins didn’t get to rebounds, however, so pucks left in front of the net by the Carolina goaltender were swept away by the defenders in front of him.

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Jeremy Jacobs to be inducted into Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame

03.10.16 at 6:30 pm ET
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Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs will be inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame this June. Also inducted will be David A. Jensen, Stephen Palmacci and Jack Parker.

Jacobs has owned the Bruins for 41 years, overseeing the team through highs and lows that included the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

“My selection reflects the entire Bruins organization as well as the team’s true owners, its dedicated and loyal fans,” Jacobs said in a statement. “Massachusetts is a great hockey state, and we are proud to play a role in the sport’s continued growth and development. I am tremendously honored.”

Parker coached Boston University from 1973 through 2013, winning the NCAA National Championship three times.

Jonas Gustavsson feels he can help Bruins get key points

03.10.16 at 4:58 pm ET
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Jonas Gustavsson

Jonas Gustavsson

The Bruins have 14 games remaining. Nine of them are against teams currently in playoff position.

A season ago, that might have meant 14 games for Tuukka Rask. After all, Rask started 16 of the Bruins’ final 17 games of the season in what, despite a strong performance from the starter, proved to be a fruitless push to reach the playoffs.

Everyone knows why Rask played so much down the stretch last season: The Bruins needed to win the games and they didn’t have any confidence in Niklas Svedberg, their backup goaltender. As such, Rask was a busy man.

This season, the Bruins might not need the points as much to get into the playoffs, but they certainly have something for which to play. Securing the top seed in the Atlantic Division would mean setting up one or two potentially winnable playoff series against teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit or Florida.

So while there’s plenty of motivation to keep going to Rask, the Bruins like this season’s backup goaltender a lot better. Coming off his best game as a Bruin, Jonas Gustavsson is eager to provide the Bruins with big points the way he did in a 42-save shutout against the Lightning Tuesday.

Claude Julien downplayed the number of shots against the Bruins have allowed of late, saying that the 42 that Gustavsson faced Tuesday were not as difficult as the 51 Rask faced Monday. Gustavsson agreed that keeping shots to the outside limited Tampa’s prime chances, but he still needed to come up with critical stops against the likes of Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov.

“There’s always going to be those chances when you need to step up,” Gustavsson said. “I was able to do that, but all in all I think we’ve played a really solid defensive game.”

Gustavsson has good numbers this season (his .916 save percentage is three points behind Rask), but he has not always passed the eye test. Rebound control is his biggest issue, but at the very least he has provided the B’s with a backup they trust. That’s huge when considering that Malcolm Subban is not currently an option due to the larynx surgery he had to receive last month.

The Bruins have two back-to-backs remaining, so there’s a good chance Gustavsson will play again next weekend in California and later this month when the B’s play in New York and then host the Panthers the next night. Those are good teams the Bruins will be playing; they won’t be able to play Rask the rest of the way like they did a season ago.

“I saw that he played a lot, but it’s tough when you’re not part of the team to really know what’s going on,” Gustavsson said. “Maybe they were in a different position points-wise as well. Right now we’re in pretty good position, but the most important thing is we keep getting better as a group and keep getting those points. If that includes me playing more games than the backup goalie played last year, we’ll see. I’ll just take it day-by-day.”

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