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Bruins to activate Zac Rinaldo following Max Talbot suspension

12.22.15 at 11:24 am ET
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The Bruins will activate Zac Rinaldo on Tuesday, allowing him to play in the Bruins’ final game before the holiday break when they host the Blues at TD Garden. With a Bruins win and a Canadiens loss, the Bruins will overtake the Habs for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Rinaldo, who has not played since last Monday due to an upper-body injury suffered because of contact from a referee, will enter Boston’s lineup in place of the suspended Max Talbot. The NHL gave Talbot a two-game ban on Monday for his hit on Devils forward Jiri Tlusty in Sunday’s game.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Talbot repeatedly said that he that thoughts on the Department of Player Safety’s decision, but that he would respectfully keep them to himself. He did say that he’s glad Tlusty is healthy and that he is upset to receive the first supplementary discipline of his career.

“It’s not something that you want to do,” Talbot said. “I take pride in playing the game the right way. You never want to be in that situation.”

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Max Talbot suspended 2 games for hit on Jiri Tlusty

12.21.15 at 12:54 pm ET
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[UPDATE: 6:00 p.m.] The NHL Department of Player Safety announced that it has suspended Bruins forward Max Talbot two games for what they termed a “late, violent hit” on Devils forward Jiri Tlusty in Sunday’s game.

The video explains that Talbot’s hit is interference and is suspendable because of its “extreme lateness” and “predatory nature.”

Talbot’s suspension marks his first supplemental discipline in 11 NHL seasons.

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Zac Rinaldo says referee injured him

12.21.15 at 12:50 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Zac Rinaldo says that he is “ready to play” after practicing with the Bruins Monday. Rinaldo, who has been on injured reserve and missed the last three games with an upper-body injury suffered against the Oilers last Monday, also revealed the interesting nature in which the injury occurred.

Though it appeared he might have tweaked something during a first-period fight with Oilers forward Matt Hendricks, Rinaldo said that he was actually injured by a referee after the fight.

“It was after the fight against Hendricks,” Rinaldo said. “The ref jumped on me as I was coming up and he put me down a little too rough, to be honest. That was that.”

Video of the fight did not capture which ref was responsible, but Rinaldo said that the official was trying to hold Rinaldo down to prevent him from getting back up. Rinaldo said that as he tried to get up, the official “cranked” him down “pretty hard.”

Rinaldo was matter-of-fact about the ordeal, but clearly wasn’€™t happy with the result.

“It’€™s unfortunate,” he said. “It was after the fight, too, so there was no need to use that much force like the ref did. I don’€™t know. You can’€™t really give the ref [guff].”

Added Rinaldo: “When the refs use their force after you just fought for 30 seconds, a minute, it’€™s the last thing you want to deal with, is a ref using all his strength and all of his — I don’€™t know what you want to call it — just to stop you from doing anything.”

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Bruins beat Devils in shootout, sit 1 point behind Canadiens

12.20.15 at 7:59 pm ET
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The Bruins continued gaining ground on the Canadiens on Sunday with a 2-1 shootout win over the Devils at TD Garden. With the win, the B’s improved to 19-9-4 with 42 points on the season, putting them just one point behind the Atlantic Division-leading Habs with two games in hand.

Ryan Spooner scored the only goal of the shootout, with Bruins backup Jonas Gustavsson stopping all three shooters he faced. The Bruins got their regulation from Loui Eriksson in the first period.

The overtime session began with a two-minute 4-on-3 for Boston, as Matt Beleskey was hauled down by Adam Henrique while trying to jam in a rebound from a Zdeno Chara shot in the final seconds of regulation. The Bruins went 0-or-1 on the power play on the night, as that was Boston’s only man advantage of the game.

The Bruins next play Tuesday, when they host the Blues at TD Garden for their final game before the holiday break.

David Pastrnak to play Saturday for Providence, Khokhlachev reassigned

12.19.15 at 1:24 pm ET
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David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

The Bruins assigned Alexander Khokhlachev to Providence on Saturday, with David Pastrnak also going to the AHL on a conditioning loan. Pastrnak, who has not played since Oct. 31 due to a foot injury, will be in the P-Bruins’€™ lineup when they take on the Springfield Falcons Saturday night.

The NHL‘€™s holiday roster freeze begins at midnight, meaning the Bruins will have to either recall him, leave him in Providence or send him to the World Junior Championships by then. Julien did not divulge the Bruins’€™ plan for Pastrnak, saying, “David tonight is going to play for Providence and then a decision will be made concerning the World Juniors shortly after.”

Also missing from Saturday’€™s practice was Zac Rinaldo, who remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. The Bruins’€™ kept the same forward lines in practice as they have used in recent games, with Tyler Randell replacing Khokhlachev on the fourth line:

Marchand-Bergeron-Connolly
Beleskey-Krejci-Eriksson
Vatrano-Spooner-Hayes
Ferraro-Talbot-Randell

The B’€™s will return to action when they host the Devils Sunday at TD Garden.

5 things we learned as Frank Vatrano’s hat trick leads Bruins past Penguins

12.18.15 at 9:44 pm ET
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Frank Vatrano

Frank Vatrano

Frank Vatrano had gone nine straight games without a goal. He now has three in his last 10 games.

Vatrano busted out of his scoring slump with the first hat trick of his career as the Bruins separated in the third period to enjoy a 6-2 victory at the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. The victory saw the Bruins sweep this week’€™s home-and-home series with the Penguins.

Patrice Bergeron also had a multi-goal game, as he netted a shorthanded tally in the second and added an even-strength goal early in the third to extend Boston’€™s lead. The goals brought his season total to 11, putting him behind only Brad Marchand (15) and Loui Eriksson (12) on the Bruins this season. He is also at over a point-per-game pace this season with 32 points in 31 games.

As for Tuukka Rask, the Bruins’€™ top netminder stood tall against a struggling Penguins offense for his eighth win in his last 10 appearances (8-0-2). With 29 saves on Friday, Rask has a .959 save percentage over his last 10 games.

The Bruins would have another goal in the third period, but a goal from Landon Ferraro was not allowed due to what the officials found to be goaltender interference committed by Max Talbot.

Here are four more things we learned Friday night:

UMASS NIGHT

Vatrano wasn’€™t the only UMass product with a couple of points Friday, as his former teammate in Conor Sheary had both a goal and an assist for the first two points of his career.

Sheary’€™s goal came on a bit of bad luck for the Bruins, as Bergeron fanned on a puck behind the net, leading Sidney Crosby to send it in front for Sheary. The Melrose native had the secondary helper on a second-period goal from Trevor Daley.

SHORTHANDED MAGIC

Bergeron took a holding penalty in the first period to put him at 20 penalty minutes on the season, which puts him on pace to set a new career-high for the third straight year. With the Bruins managing to kill off the ensuing Penguins power play without their best penalty-killing forward, Bergeron made up for it the following period.

With Kevan Miller in the box for tripping Sheary early in the second, Brad Marchand won a puck high in the Penguins zone and fed it to his penalty-killing partner. Bergeron rewarded Marchand for his work by flicking the puck past Jeff Zatkoff for the Bruins’€™ sixth shorthanded goal of the season.

While the Bruins’€™ penalty kill was technically a perfect 5-for-5 on the night, a point shot from Daley made its way through traffic and past Rask just seconds after rate expiration of Miller’€™s penalty.

POINTS KEEP COMING FOR SPOONER

After a two-point night for Ryan Spooner Wednesday (two assists; what appeared to be a second-period Spooner goal was credited to Jimmy Hayes, as it apparently hit the shaft of his stick), the young Bruins center doubled that production on Friday with a career-best four-assist night.

Spooner took the puck from the wall after some strong work along the wall from Ferraro, walked it over to the faceoff dot and fed it back to Vatrano, who snapped the puck past Zatkoff to tie the game at one goal apiece. Spooner assisted all three of Vatrano’s goals and Loui Eriksson’s power play goal.

With Spooner’€™s four assist on Friday, he now has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) over his last six games.

Another point wasn’€™t the only thing Spooner dropped on Friday. Following a big hit from Patric Hornqvist on Dennis Seidenberg in the second period, Spooner threw his gloves down and went after the Penguins forward. Hornqvist was not interesting in fighting, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Spooner. The fight would have been the first of Spooner’€™s professional career and quite possibly of his life, as Spooner did not fight at the OHL level either.

THREE STRAIGHT FOR ERIKSSON

Eriksson was relentless in trying to jam a loose puck past Zatkoff during a second-period Bruins power play, eventually doing so for his 12th goal of the year. The tally also made it three straight games with a goal for Eriksson, who will easily surpass the 22 goals he scored last season as long as he stays healthy.

Eriksson could have had two power play goals on the night, but he couldn’€™t control a slap pass from Krug at the right circle despite having a wide open net.

Read More: Frank Vatrano, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask,

David Pastrnak won’t travel to Pittsburgh, Bruins mum on Joonas Kemppainen

12.17.15 at 12:41 pm ET
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David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

WILMINGTON — David Pastrnak practiced with teammates once again on Thursday, but he is not yet closing in on a return to the Bruins’ lineup.

Claude Julien said following the practice that Pastrnak, who has not played since Oct. 31 due to a non-displaced fracture in his foot, will not travel with the team for Friday’s game in Pittsburgh.

The Bruins are exploring options regarding a possible conditioning stint for the 19-year-old right wing, with Providence perhaps the best of the options. Another would be sending him to play World Juniors in Finland next week, but at this time it’s believed the player’s preference is to stay in North America.

As for Joonas Kemppainen, Claude Julien was mum on the status of the injured center. Kemppainen has not played since Dec. 7 and remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. The team has given no indication as to how long he’ll be out, though Julien said that the first-year NHLer is not close to a return.

“I think they said he was out for a while, didn’€™t they?”€ Julien said when asked of his status.

The Bruins had not said anything that specific, though Julien’s words suggest it could be a bit before Kemppainen returns to game action. He has not yet resumed practicing with the team.

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