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Bruins need home ice advantage to come through in must-win Game 6

04.23.17 at 3:06 pm ET
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The Bruins are winless in both home playoff games this round. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are winless in both home playoff games this round. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

One of the biggest issues for the club prior to his appointment as the club’s interim head coach, Bruce Cassidy fixed the team’s near two-year-long home ice woes right out of the gate back in February.

Under Cassidy, the Bruins finished the year with the most home points in the NHL by way of an 11-4-1 record to finish their season, and outscored their opponents 52-to-29 at TD Garden. That plus-23 goal differential also ranked as the league’s best over that span.

But the Bruins have yet to see that success roll over into the playoffs, as they have dropped each postseason game played at home in their first round series with the Senators. They dropped a Patriots’ Day Game 3 by a 4-3 overtime final, and they then lost Game 4 by a 1-0 score. They weren’t the hometown beatdowns commonly suffered during the club’s two-year absence from postseason contention, but they still lacked the impact and strike-first mentality that became the status quo under Cassidy.

Another home loss would make this the first series since 1998’s first round series loss to the Capitals that they had three home playoff dates and did not win a single one. And they do not have the luxury of another home loss either, by the way, as they come into this game trailing 3-2 in this series. And after a roller coaster of a Game 5, and with the Garden expected to be absolutely deafening for today’s tilt, the Bruins know that emotion is something they can use to their advantage in this game.

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David Krejci out for Bruins-Senators Game 6; Matt Beleskey gets call over Ryan Spooner

04.23.17 at 2:21 pm ET
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The Bruins will be without David Krejci as they face elimination Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will be without David Krejci as they face elimination Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Unsurprisingly, the Bruins will be without David Krejci for Sunday’s Game 6 against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed before the game that his second-line center will miss the game due to injury.

Krejci suffered a lower-body injury in Friday night’s Game 5 in Ottawa when Senators defenseman Chris Wideman caught him with a leg check that went unpenalized. Krejci did not return to the game.

Matt Beleskey will get into the lineup in Krejci’s place. Beleskey played two games earlier in the series and had three shots on goal, no points and four penalty minutes while averaging 8:42 time on ice.

Had Cassidy wanted to plug in another center, Ryan Spooner would’ve been a natural choice, but instead Spooner will remain on the sidelines after losing his spot in the lineup to Sean Kuraly in Game 5.

“It’s become, as we all suspected, much more of a down low, grind game, offensively for us, and that’s his strength,” Cassidy said of the decision to go with Beleskey. “He can get on people, get on pucks, win battles, get to the net. He should be afforded an opportunity to play to his strengths. It’s less of a line rush game, so now the people going in are suited to that.”

Cassidy said there could be some shuffling in terms of lines, and a couple guys who have been playing wing could be moved to center.

“We’ll move some people around in the lines,” Cassidy said. “Nothing new there. Obviously we changed things up and had to deal with it on Friday for whatever it was, four periods. Kuraly can certainly play center. He did a good job for us there the other day. [Noel] Acciari’s moved from right wing to center. [Riley] Nash and [Dominic] Moore can play center. I’m not going to be able to pinpoint exactly who will play center every shift, but that’s what we’re looking at.”

Cassidy did say that the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line will remain intact. He also mentioned that he liked how Kuraly and David Backes played together Friday night, so expect those two to be together, probably with Kuraly as the center. Cassidy likes keeping Moore and Nash together as well.

In other Bruins injury news, Cassidy said that while defenseman Torey Krug won’t play Sunday, he’s making progress and is closer to a return than either Brandon Carlo or Adam McQuaid.

On the Ottawa side, head coach Guy Boucher said he’ll be making a couple minor moves for Sunday’s game. Fredrik Claesson will be going in on defense in place of Wideman, so the Bruins won’t have to worry about the guy who injured Krejci.

Boucher also said Tommy Wingels will get into the lineup up front and that forward Viktor Stalberg is a game-time decision. If Stalberg is able to play, another forward would come out of the lineup.

Bruins still unhappy with ‘classless’ Sens after hit on David Krejci

04.22.17 at 3:30 pm ET
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David Krejci was injured in a knee-on-knee hit in Game 5. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

David Krejci was injured in a knee-on-knee hit in Game 5. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins lost another player to injury on Friday night, and it came as the result of another unpenalized knee-on-knee hit that the Bruins have taken an issue with. This time, it was Ottawa defenseman Chris Wideman that knocked David Krejci out of Game 5 in the first period. The hit bothered the Bruins, of course, but not nearly as much as some of the alleged taunting that came with it.

A day later and back in Boston with their season still alive, the Bruins were still a little hot with the immediate aftermath of the hit that’s left Krejci’s status for Sunday’s Game 6 at TD Garden up in the air.

“I didn’t see [the hit], but we heard some words coming our way about it from their team and that’s never a good thing,” B’s defenseman Kevan Miller said. “I don’t know if they felt that it was like that [Krejci] was OK or that it wasn’t a bad hit. I don’t know if they felt like it wasn’t a cheapshot or something, but I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

“It just looked like the player was hovering over Krejci, and I don’t know if that’s appropriate,” said Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, who first revealed that the Senators said something to Krejci as he limped off the ice last night. “But anyway, that’s neither here nor there to a certain extent, but I do believe it fired our guys up.”

So, what something said or was it simply posturing?

“Right after [the hit], Wideman chirped him right away,” Brad Marchand confirmed when asked about the incident and what was said to a fallen Krejci. “It’s just pretty classless to do something like that when you know you hurt a guy on the ice. Krejci is a pretty tough player, he can play through just about anything. But I guess that’s part of the game. It happens a lot out there.”

It’s the off-ice confirmation that these teams truly seem to hate each other, which is to be expected after what was a physical season series, and five straight one-goal decisions through the first week-plus of playoff hockey.

“It’s a series. You play these guys enough over and over you’re gonna learn to hate everyone and everything about them,” Joe Morrow said on Saturday. “It’s just how sports goes. You run into the same person time after time, there’s gonna be some bad blood between teams. I can’t imagine [them] saying anything good about [Krejci], so we’ll just have to retaliate like you do.”

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (lower-body) has resumed skating

04.22.17 at 2:57 pm ET
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Torey Krug has missed all five games of this series. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Torey Krug has missed all five games of this series. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

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.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask takes his game to another level in double-overtime win over Senators

04.22.17 at 2:09 am ET
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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.

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Bruins center David Krejci goes down with lower-body injury in win over Senators

04.22.17 at 1:07 am ET
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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.


Bruins overcome 2-goal hole, force Game 6 with double-overtime win over Senators

04.21.17 at 11:49 pm ET
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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.

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