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Bruins take Game 1 behind clutch saves from Tuukka Rask, goal from Brad Marchand 04.12.17 at 10:08 pm ET
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The Bruins dropped Game 1 to the Senators. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins grabbed a 1-0 series lead behind a comeback win over the Senators at the Canadian Tire Center. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

Game 1 of what everybody expects to be a tight-checking, low-scoring first-round series between the Bruins and Senators did not disappoint, especially for the Bruins, who finished strong for a 1-0 series lead by way of their 2-1 comeback over the Sens at the Canadian Tire Center.

In an opening period headlined by half a dozen highlight-quality stops from Tuukka Rask, and two near strikes from David Pastrnak on the power play, including one that rang off the post.

Scoreless through the opening 20 minutes, the Bruins and Sens continued to trade chances with Craig Anderson and Rask dueling like they did in the final two regular season meetings between these rivals with huge stops made in between post-whistle introductory scrums.

But the Senators found a seam and struck when Bobby Ryan broke through into the attacking zone all alone and beat Rask for the game’s first goal, scored 10:28 into the middle stanza.

From the Ryan goal on, the Sens straight-up dominated the puck, and out-attempted the Bruins 19-to-1 to close out the period. By the end of period, the shot clock read 12-to-0 in favor of the Senators. (That’s not a typo by the way.) The Bruins had zero shots in a playoff period for the first time in the expansion era, and it was the first time in Sens history that they held an opponent to zero shots on goal in a playoff period (their previous low was two shots on goal against, set in a period back in 2007).

It spoke perfectly to the dangers that the Bruins can run into if they don’t score first against this team, as their willingness to turn to their defensive shell and Anderson is not just a strategy, but their bread and butter.

Against an Ottawa team that was the eighth-best in the NHL when leading after two periods in the regular season, the Bruins shot the puck and found a response when Frank Vatrano beat Anderson for the first Boston goal of the night, scored 4:55 into the third period, and good for Vatrano’s first career playoff goal (and first goal in 17 games dating back to the regular season). And in what’s a reminder of just how long it’s been since the Bruins were in the playoffs, it was the first playoff goal by the Bruins since Jarome Iginla scored a power-play goal in Game 7 of the club’s second-round series with the Canadiens back in 2014.

Vatrano’s goal was the product of some serious grunt-work from Dominic Moore, who won a battle, and then provided a painful screen in front of Anderson, complete with No. 28 getting wrecked by Mark Borowiecki to give Vatrano the shot.

From there, it became a 15:05 game, and the sticks were gripped even tighter.

But in the ultimate atonement for the transgressions that took him out of the final two games of the regular season, which helped the Senators land home-ice in round one and nearly put the Bruins against the Capitals in the first round, a Brad Marchand putaway scored with just 2:33 left in the third period put the Black and Gold up by a goal.

It was scored in traditional Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak tradition, too.

In one of their most dominant shifts of the season, the Bergeron line straight-up gassed the Senators into submission, and with constant puck-battle victories that eluded the club in the opening 40 minutes, the play went from Marchand to Pastrnak to Bergeron, and the back to Marchand for an open cage and Marchand’s first playoff goal in 22 games.

This was the Bruins taking advantage of the matchup they wanted throughout the night, too, as Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy consistently embraced the matchup of the Bergeron line against Ottawa’s middle pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci.

Led by more stops from Rask, who finished the night with 26 saves on 27 shots against, including a huge save with just seconds left in the third period, and one last big block from Moore, the Bruins hung on for the opening game win.

The B’s and Senators will resume their series with a Game 2 afternoon affair at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Bruins center David Krejci a late scratch from Game 1 vs. Senators 04.12.17 at 7:13 pm ET
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David Krejci is a late scratch from the lineup. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

David Krejci is a late scratch from the lineup. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Already down three bodies for Game 1, the Bruins made it a fourth just before the puck drop on Game 1, as top-six center David Krejci has become a late scratch from the lineup with an upper-body injury.

Missing from practice on both Monday and Tuesday with what the team called maintenance days, the 30-year-old Krejci did take part in the morning skate at Canadian Tire Center this morning, and was expected to play tonight, according to B’s interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

Krejci ranked third among Bruins skaters in goals (23) and points (54) this season, and has 29 goals and 77 points in 93 career playoff games.

With Krejci out, Sean Kuraly will make his postseason debut.

The 24-year-old Kuraly had one assist and 11 shots in goal in eight games for the Bruins this season.

Charlie McAvoy to make Bruins debut on pairing with Kevan Miller in Game 1 04.12.17 at 6:36 pm ET
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The Bruins and Senators will begin their first round series tonight. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins and Senators will begin their first round series tonight. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It’s by necessity, but it’s officially Charlie McAvoy time for the Bruins.

After three morning skates with the Bruins, all spent with different pairing partners, the 19-year-old McAvoy appears set to skate on the right side of the club’s second pairing with Kevan Miller for his NHL debut in tonight’s Game 1 meeting with the Senators.

Asking McAvoy, who has played in just four AHL games since leaving Boston University just a couple of weeks ago, to jump right into the fire of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a daunting task, but it’s one they believe that the poised 14th overall pick from last year’s draft can handle.

“But at the end of the day, once the puck drops, it’s hockey,” Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said of the message to McAvoy. “That’s what we’ll tell him: you’ve got to play to your strengths and understand that you’ll be playing against men, so they’ll be much harder on the puck, but he’s has the luxury of playing some games down in Providence. It’s not the National Hockey League, but they’re older players, it’s older than college, so he has that under his belt.”

It’s all happened extraordinarily quickly, and McAvoy will be the first to tell you that.

“I’ve already played a stint in Providence. Now I’m in Ottawa for the playoffs. I mean, it’s crazy. It’s been a whirlwind,” he said.

McAvoy and Miller are not a guaranteed pairing, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Cassidy bump McAvoy up with Chara or down with Liles as the night progresses and given his overall affinity for making in-game switches if something doesn’t click.

Although the Bruins head into this game without forward Noel Acciari (upper-body) and defensemen Brandon Carlo (upper-body) and Torey Krug (lower-body), good news comes for the Bruins with word that both David Krejci and Dominic Moore, who missed yesterday’s practice with maintenance issues, will be in uniform for tonight’s contest. Brad Marchand, the team’s leading scorer who missed the final two games of the regular season with a suspension, is also back in the B’s lineup.

Tuukka Rask gets the call in net for the Bruins. Rask finished his year on a high note, with a 4-0-1 record and .971 save percentage in his final six appearances of the season, and comes into action on the heels of a career-high 37 wins and eight shutouts this year. The 30-year-old has not played in the playoffs since 2014, but has 28 wins and a .930 save percentage in 47 career playoff tilts.

Ottawa counters with Craig Anderson. The veteran Anderson was a nightmare for the Bruins this season, with four wins and stops on all but one of the 95 even-strength shots the Bruins threw his way in four games this year. But when the Bruins did beat Anderson with goals, they came on the power play, where he stopped just eight of 13 shots thrown his way. Anderson has 12 wins and a .933 save percentage in 27 career playoff games, including two wins and a .972 save percentage in four games in 2015.

This is the first ever playoff meeting between the Bruins and Senators.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Drew Stafford – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Matt Beleskey – Ryan Spooner – Frank Vatrano

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Charlie McAvoy

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Bruins veteran John-Michael Liles excited to make new playoff memories 04.12.17 at 6:16 pm ET
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John-Michael Liles will skate in his first playoff game since 2013. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles will skate in his first playoff game since 2013 in tonight’s Game 1 in Ottawa. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles remembers the last time he played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But he’d probably prefer not to.

It was in 2013 that Liles’ skates last touched playoff ice. May 13th, to be exact. It was from the bench at TD Garden that Liles watched his team’s playoff hopes go down in complete flames in a span of 16:47 — a 17-minute intermission extended it to nearly 34 agonizing minutes on the ice, on the bench and in the locker room, actually — as the Bruins pulled off the greatest comeback in Game 7 history and the Leafs pulled off the greatest choke in Game 7 history as the B’s stormed back from down 4-1 in the third period to beat Liles and the Leafs in overtime.

It’s the absolute last playoff memory that Liles wanted to have, and not in the Mark Recchi going out a champion kind of way.

“No, that was…” Liles says with a wry chuckle and a chin scratch, still struggling to come up with the words to best summarize that collapse four years later. “I was in that game, in that series.”

And Liles will be in tonight’s Game 1 and in this series against the Sens, which is exactly how he drew it up last summer.

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Patrice Bergeron gives advice on chirping Brad Marchand: ‘Just don’t, you won’t win, nobody ever wins’ 04.12.17 at 2:21 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron gave those trying to get under Brad Marchand's skin some advice. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron gave those trying to get under Brad Marchand’s skin some advice. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruins winger Brad Marchand is as chatty as they come. No one knows that better than Patrice Bergeron, Marchand’s linemate of seven years.

In a piece penned by Bergeron for the Players’ Tribune on Wednesday, Bergeron touched on a number of subjects, including Marchand’s penchant for his on-ice chatter, and those that come to the rink and try to outduel his war of words on the ice before, during, and after play.

“Don’t. Just don’t. You won’t win. Nobody ever wins,” Bergeron wrote as advice to those trying to find ways to get under Marchand’s skin.

“But one thing you absolutely have to know is that you will not outchirp Marshy. You just won’t. The guy always gets the final word. As soon as a guy on the other team messes up, Marshy will be right there to skate by him and say, “That’s the best play you’ll make all night. Keep going.” That’s if he’s in a good mood and going easy on the guy.”

To be honest, this is nothing you didn’t already know about Boston’s favorite agitator.

And fresh off his two-game ban, you can expect Marchand to begin this series with a mouthful for any and everybody on a pesky Senators group that will do anything they can to get under anybody on the Black and Gold’s skin.

After three years away, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is ready for return to playoff stage 04.12.17 at 2:00 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask could backstop the Bruins to the second round. (Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports)

If he’s on his game, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask could backstop the team to the second round. (Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports)

It’s painfully obvious, borderline insulting even, of me to write that strong goaltender can take you far this time of year. Especially in this town, as Tim Thomas told you exactly that with more than anything I could write back in 2011’s wild run to the Stanley Cup, and when Tuukka Rask nearly did the same in 2013’s bid that came just two victories shy of Boston’s second Cup in three seasons.

But it bears repeating that as a starter, Rask, who has been called everything in the book since he first arrived on the B’s scene in 2009, has never failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.

In his first year as a playoff starter back in 2010, Rask bested the Sabres in a six-game round one matchup, and posted a .927 save percentage over the course of the series, complete with a double-overtime, 35-save effort in a series-changing Game 4 victory. In a return to a starting role in 2013, Rask outlasted the Maple Leafs in seven games, with a .923 save percentage and back-to-back 45-save games in Games 3 and 4. And in his last trip to the playoffs, which came back in 2014, Rask handled the Red Wings in the first round with just six goals allowed and a dominant .961 save percentage in a five-game series win.

When it comes to the first round, Rask has been money, and Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy’s club will need that in what’s expected to be a tight-checking, low-scoring opening round series with the Senators that begins tonight in Ottawa.

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Bruins pair Charlie McAvoy with ‘big brother’ Zdeno Chara ahead of Game 1 04.11.17 at 3:09 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara enjoys his mentoring role for the Bruins. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will rely on Zdeno Chara to be an on-ice mentor for Charlie McAvoy in the first round. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

It’s hard to have a bigger brother than the 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara.

A giant on the ice in skates and in the B’s locker room with his lead-by-example actions, the 40-year-old Chara has had his share of siblings over his 11-year run in Boston. He’s helped accelerate the development of prospects into legitimate top-four talents — from Dennis Wideman to Johnny Boychuk to Dougie Hamilton and now Brandon Carlo — and has helped inexperienced first-timers ‘escape’ getting feasted on via unfavorable matchups. Fringe players like Steven Kampfer, Zach Trotman, and teenagers like Hamilton (again), and even Carlo (in the first few weeks of the season) come to mind there in that latter group.

Chara has a new sibling that fits both criterias now, as Charlie McAvoy appears set to make his NHL debut to Chara’s right when the puck drops on the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs tomorrow night in Ottawa.

“We like the young guys with Z,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Tuesday’s practice.

“Z likes to be the big brother. He relishes that role.”

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