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Bruins lean heavily on Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo pairing in closing moments of win

11.02.16 at 2:21 am ET
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Claude Julien turned to his one-two punch of Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo to stop a Panthers comeback on Tuesday night. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

Claude Julien turned to his one-two punch of Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo to stop a Panthers comeback on Tuesday night. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Bruins appeared well on their way towards an easy victory over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Tuesday night. (Well, as easy as an in-division “rivalry” game against the defending division winner from a year ago can be this time of year.)

But when Denis Malgin’s first NHL goal brought the Panthers back within one with just 4:35 left in the game, you could sense the sticks in front of B’s goalie Tuukka Rask begin to tighten.

Rask, who finished the night with 33 stops on 34 shots against, had done his part. Plus more. And it was on the skaters in front of him — and on their toes with a two-minute, 6-on-4 favoring the hometown Cats after an Adam McQuaid penalty at 16:40 of the third period — to back him up.

And it was the B’s top defensive pairing — team captain of 10 years Zdeno Chara and the 19-year-old Brandon Carlo — that shouldered the load in the final moments of a 2-1 final in their favor.

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5 Things We Learned as Tuukka Rask, Bruins beat Panthers in Florida

11.01.16 at 10:32 pm ET
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Brad Marchand scored a penalty shot on Roberto Luongo in the first period of Tuesday's win over Florida. (Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Brad Marchand scored a penalty shot on Roberto Luongo in the first period of Tuesday’s win over Florida. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But “Automatic on Penalty Shots” might be the newest one to add to the list when describing the 28-year-old Marchand, whose penalty shot goal scored 3:53 into the first period opened up the game’s scoring in a crucial B’s road win Tuesday, a 2-1 final over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center.

Hooked by ex-Bruin linemate Reilly Smith on a net-front drive, Marchand was awarded his first penalty shot of the new campaign, and came through with a textbook goal that completely fooled Cats’ netminder Roberto Luongo onto his back and out of the play.

The goal was Marchand’s third penalty shot goal in the last calendar year, and improved the 5-foot-9 winger to a ridiculous 4-for-5 on penalty shots in his NHL career (his only miss was in a Mar. 8, 2011 bid against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price). It also extended Marchand’s lead on the club’s all-time penalty shot goals scored leaderboard, as Johnny Bucyk is the only other player in team history to have more than one penalty shot goal (Bucyk finished his career with two goals on three opportunities overall).

Although the shot would be the final of the period — which still had 16:07 left to go after the Marchand goal — from a Black and Gold skater, the Bruins carried their 1-0 lead into the first intermission behind 13 stops from goaltender Tuukka Rask.

In a second period that favored the Bruins in pace and style, the Bruins doubled their lead with a Dom Moore shorthanded goal — initially ruled to be nothing but immediately confirmed by a subsequent video review — that banged into the Florida net and out.

The Panthers finally responded, with 4:35 left in the third period, on Denis Malgin’s first NHL goal, but it was the 29-year-old Rask and the Boston penalty kill that stood on its head in a late-game Florida power play — and 6-on-4 advantage for the Panthers — in the win.

Here are four other things we learned in the win.

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Bruins pregame notes: Patrice Bergeron questionable, Tuukka Rask in net vs. Panthers

11.01.16 at 7:16 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

It’s entirely too early in the season, but the Boston Bruins have been perfect with goaltender Tuukka Rask in net. Or is it that Tuukka Rask has been perfect in net for the Bruins? Either way, down two skaters from his top two lines in David Pastrnak (suspension) and David Backes (elbow procedure) in last Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings, a win that pushed Rask to a lethal 4-0-0 on the year with a stellar .958 save percentage, the Bruins will take it.

But the Bruins’ bid to remain unbeaten with Rask in net could face its biggest challenge yet, with Patrice Bergeron, injured in a “non-practice injury” yesterday, potentially out of action along with the aforementioned absences of both Backes and Pastrnak.

Absent from the team’s morning skate, the Bruins recalled forward Sean Kuraly from the Providence Bruins on an emergency basis, and slid David Krejci into Bergeron’s spot on the first line between Brad Marchand and first-year pro Danton Heinen.

If Bergeron is out, Krejci would take his spot, Ryan Spooner would take Krejci’s spot as the second-line center with Matt Beleskey and Austin Czarnik on the wings, and Sean Kuraly would skate on the left side of a line with Riley Nash and Jimmy Hayes.

It’s worth noting that Bergeron did participate in the club’s pregame warmup.

In net, the Bruins will (obviously) give the start to Rask. The 29-year-old stopped all 24 shots against in Saturday’s win, and comes into play with 15 wins (including three shutouts) and a .950 save percentage in 19 career games against the Panthers.

Florida will counter with Roberto Luongo. Luongo took a loss in his last outing behind a 22-of-25 night against the Buffalo Sabres, but all three of his wins on the year have come at home, where he’s 3-1-0 with a .922 save percentage. Luongo, familiar with the B’s from his run to the 2011 Cup Final with the Canucks, has 15 wins and a .926 save percentage in 36 games against the Bruins.

This is the first of five meetings between the Bruins and Panthers this year.

The Bruins won the season series with the Cats a year ago, three games to one.

Is Bruins forward Ryan Spooner on the trade block?

11.01.16 at 2:41 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner could be on the trade block for the Boston Bruins. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Ryan Spooner could be on the trade block for the Boston Bruins. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

This year, albeit still extremely early, has not gone as planned for Boston Bruins forward Ryan Spooner.

Moved from his natural center position to the wing, back to center, back to wing, and now expected to be back to center again for tonight’s head-to-head with the Florida Panthers, the 24-year-old Spooner has struggled to the tune of one goal, two points, and 14 shots on goal in seven games played.

Spooner has even sat as a healthy scratch for the Bruins once this year, in the club’s home opener no less, a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 20.

The scratch prompted talk of Spooner, who has spent his entire career with the Bruins, finding himself on the outs as a trade chip for a Black and Gold roster deep down the middle.

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Bruins center Patrice Bergeron misses morning skate

11.01.16 at 12:22 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron missed the morning skate ahead of tonight's game vs. the Panthers.

Patrice Bergeron missed the morning skate ahead of tonight’s game vs. the Panthers.

The calendar reads Nov. 1, but Scary Season clearly isn’t over for the Boston Bruins, as the club may find themselves back to life without top-line center Patrice Bergeron.

Absent from the morning skate at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., Bruins head coach Claude Julien called Bergeron a “game-time decision” for Tuesday’s showdown with a Florida Panthers group that’s totaled nine points in nine games, including a 3-1-0 record on home ice.

At the skate, Bergeron’s void on the B’s first line was filled by center David Krejci between Brad Marchand and first-year pro Danton Heinen, while Ryan Spooner moved to the middle of a second line with Matt Beleskey on the left and Austin Czarnik on the right.

The shuffling also prompted an emergency recall of Providence Bruins forward Sean Kuraly, who led the post-skate stretch, and was found on the left wing of a third line with Riley Nash at center and Jimmy Hayes on the right.

Kuraly has recorded one assist in eight games for the P-Bruins this season.

The only line that remained intact in spite of the Bergeron injury was the B’s fourth line with Dominic Moore at center with Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari on the wings.

Still without David Backes (elbow procedure) and David Pastrnak (the second and final game of his suspension for a hit on the Rangers’ Dan Girardi last week), the loss of the 31-year-old Bergeron is a gigantic one for the Black and Gold, as the club is down two of their all-zone threats, top goal scorer, and half of their top six forward corps overall.

The Bruins skated without Bergeron, who suffered from a lower-body ailment, for the first three games of the year, and though they were a negative possession club, won two of their three tilts.

This will be the first of five head-to-heads between the Bruins and ‘Cats this season.

5 Scariest Boston Bruins of All Time

10.31.16 at 9:32 pm ET
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The tallest player in NHL history, Zdeno Chara is no stranger to intimidating his opponents. (Getty)

The tallest player in NHL history, Zdeno Chara is no stranger to intimidating his opponents. (Getty)

It’s Halloween and the Boston Bruins — or maybe more appropriate, just for one day, the Boo-ins (were you saying Bruins or boo-ins?) — are off.

But given the holiday’s notoriety for blood, frights, ghouls, and everything in between, and coupled with the B’s status as one of the most intimidating teams in league history over their 90-plus run in the National Hockey League, it’s a more than fitting time to figure out the five scariest to ever lace ’em up for the Black and Gold.

5. Cam Neely

Long before he terrorized Jim Carrey as Seabass in 1994’s “Dumb and Dumber”, the 6-foot-1 power forward from British Columbia wreaked havoc as the Bruins’ ill-tempered, potent scorer. Neely’s best run with the Black and Gold came in a four-year run in which No. 8 scored 185 goals and 324 points in 288 games, including back-to-back 50-goal seasons. In addition to ranking fifth on the club’s all-time goals list with 344, Neely ranks 12th on the team’s penalty minute list, with 921 minutes in penalties totaled in 10 years with the Bruins. Now Neely, scares people in a different way as the Team President of the Bruins, a position held since 2010.

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5 Things We Learned as Tuukka Rask returns, shuts out Red Wings

10.29.16 at 10:00 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in a shutout win over Detroit Saturday night. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in a shutout win over Detroit Saturday night. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

To say the Bruins missed Tuukka Rask would be a massive understatement. They got poor goaltending from three different netminders in his absence and have lost all four games he’s missed this season.

It only took one game to be reminded of what Rask can do. He made 24 saves Saturday night and shut out the Red Wings as the Bruins won 1-0 and snapped a three-game losing streak. While Rask didn’t face a ton of shots, he did have to come up with some quality stops.

His best moment came midway through the second period after a brutal turnover by Zdeno Chara that set up Justin Abdelkader mere feet from Rask. The B’s goalie made two big saves on the initial chance, then came up with another on a Tomas Tatar redirect a few seconds later as the Red Wings maintained possession. Rask made another big save on Tatar early in the third off a nice setup from Henrik Zetterberg.

Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35 saves) was also stellar for most of the night, but he made one key mistake, and on a night when Rask was perfect, that was one too many. After Dominic Moore forced a turnover in the Detroit zone, Howard got caught out of position and Tim Schaller beat him from a tough angle for the game’s lone goal, and Schaller’s first goal as a Bruin.

The Red Wings got a late shot to tie the game on a power play with 1:13 to go, but as it was all night, the Bruins’ penalty kill was up to the challenge. For the game, the B’s held Detroit to three shots on goal on four man advantages.

Here are four other things we learned: Read the rest of this entry »

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