|04.22.17 at 2:57 pm ET|
The longer this first round hate-fueled war of a series between the Bruins and Senators goes, which was forced back to Boston for a Game 6 thanks to a double-overtime goal from Sean Kuraly on Friday night, the greater the chances that the Bruins will get at least one of their injured top-four defensemen back in action.
Both Brandon Carlo (upper-body) and Torey Krug (lower-body) have missed all five games of this series to date and without much of a change in their status, and Adam McQuaid (upper-body) was knocked out of the first period of Game 2 and has not been seen since.
But on a day away from the ice after last night’s 90-minute game, the B’s did have an update on the most sorely missed of the three.
“Krug is skating,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed on Saturday. “He started that process of his rehab, so he’s on the ice.”
It’s the big step that everybody has been waiting for since the moment it was reported that Krug had left TD Garden on crutches following his Apr. 6 departure against the Senators, and it’s line with the trend that Krug has displayed over that span. Although he did not travel with the Bruins for Games 1 and 2 in Ottawa, Krug could be seen around the Garden without those crutches and was walking under his own power when the series returned to Boston for Games 3 and 4 earlier this week.
But without a practice today, and without a morning skate tomorrow because of a 3 p.m. puck drop, it’s unlikely to expect No. 47 to be anything close to game ready tomorrow, so his ‘day-to-day’ status will remain the same.
Krug recorded a career-high 51 points in 81 games for the Bruins during the regular season.
|04.22.17 at 2:09 am ET|
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.
|04.22.17 at 1:07 am ET|
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.”
Another look at the Wideman hit that sent Krejci off pic.twitter.com/VZntKVPezz
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 22, 2017
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.
|04.21.17 at 11:49 pm ET|
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.
|04.21.17 at 7:25 pm ET|
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.”
|04.21.17 at 2:56 pm ET|
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?
|04.20.17 at 1:58 pm ET|
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.)