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Hot goaltending and poor finishing makes for rough night for Bruins 03.22.17 at 12:06 am ET
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Craig Anderson made 34 saves in a 3-2 win over the Bruins on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Craig Anderson made 34 saves in a 3-2 win over the Bruins on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Down by a goal late in the second period, but with pressured cranked on Craig Anderson, Noel Acciari broke through the Ottawa defense and fired a backhand chance on net from 16 feet away. The shot brought the Garden crowd to their feet and Acciari’s arms and stick raised in celebration, but the puck was tucked deep in Anderson’s glove.

The sellout crowd sighed — almost with enough force to push Anderson’s glove over the line needed for the game-tying goal, or so they hoped — and Acciari looked towards the heavens.

It was the confirmation that the Bruins were going up against a goaltender that didn’t need to get much hotter than the .928 save percentage he rolled into Boston with on the year, and one that spelled all the bad news the B’s needed in a 3-2 loss on Tuesday night.

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Senators hand Bruins 3rd straight loss in spirited bout 03.21.17 at 9:47 pm ET
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The Sens beat the Bruins 3-2 in Boston on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Sens beat the Bruins 3-2 in Boston on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Important games against the Senators have been far from the bread and butter of the Bruins in recent years.

They’re actually the stuff of nightmares, to be honest.

Tuesday night at TD Garden was no exception, as the Sens took the third of three head-to-heads between the teams this season by a 3-2 final and hammered home the fact that the Bruins are going to put themselves in serious postseason danger for the third season in a row.

And though it didn’t become official until the final horn sounded and 17,565 dejected fans experiencing deja-vu made their way out to the streets of Boston, the writing was more than on the wall before then.

It’s never a good sign when the opposition scores on their first shot of the game, especially when it comes after near four full minutes of sustained pressure poured on the other end and without a goal to show for it.

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Bruins in near must-win situation against Senators 03.21.17 at 7:09 pm ET
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The Bruins go against the Sens for the third time this season. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins go against the Sens for the third time this season. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

It’s late in the season and the Bruins find themselves in a near must-win against the Senators. Hello darkness my old friend.

In what’s been their demise in back-to-back seasons, the Bruins come into action on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back (the Sens were resting in a Boston hotel as the Bruins lost to the Maple Leafs last night) with two straight losses to their name for the first time since Bruce Cassidy took over for Claude Julien. But the B’s do catch a break with a Sens club that’s struggled with losses in four straight. Even with that factored in, though, this is still a team that the B’s have struggled against in a major way, with two losses in as many meetings this year, and losses in all but five of their last 16 head-to-head meetings.

A loss here would also make three in a row for the Bruins, and inch the club closer towards taking their fate out of their own hands, which is something that this team can ill afford given what’s happened since 2015.

Like last night’s game in Toronto came with everything you didn’t want to see play out before your eyes, the pregame scope of this crucial head-to-head comes with everything you don’t want to read.

But the Bruins aren’t waving the white towel just yet.

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Bruins winger Brad Marchand trash talks Leo Komarov, offers to give him an autograph 03.21.17 at 6:05 am ET
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It was the battle of mouthy agitators at the Air Canada Centre on Monday, as Bruins winger Brad Marchand and Toronto forward Leo Komarov engaged in a 60-minute war of words on and off the ice. Fortunately for the viewers, TSN’s between the benches feed was able to pick up a little bit of the heat that the Bruins’ 5-foot-9 sniper was throwing Komarov’s way.

There’s big leaguing somebody, and then there’s offering to send them a signed stick.

It’s a chirp that the 28-year-old Marchand has earned the right to say, too, especially in a night in which he became the first Bruins player to record 80 points in a single season since Marc Savard did it back in 2008-09. It’s also worth noting that Marchand has scored 37 goals this season and Komarov has scored 42 in his entire 242-game NHL career.

After the game, Komarov acknowledged the war of words and shoves with Boston’s favorite agitator.

Komarov, known for his deadpan sense of humor, also noted that he was just asking Marchand about his day.

Unfortunately for fans of hot mics, the Bruins and Leafs do not play again this season.

Should Leafs’ Soshnikov face hearing for hit on Patrice Bergeron? 03.21.17 at 5:56 am ET
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It didn’t take long for tempers to flare in Monday’s head-to-head between the Bruins and Maple Leafs.

With the Bruins out to a 1-0 lead, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron skated back towards his own corner to retrieve a puck when Maple Leafs forward Nikita Soshnikov charged in and drilled Bergeron from behind with a brutal boarding from behind.

It was as gutless a move as they come and perhaps the most unnecessary hit of the evening.

What’s infuriating for Bergeron is that it’s just uncalled for. It’s a simple retrieval play from Bergeron, and with his back to the forechecker, there’s no need for Soshnikov to come in with his stick planted square into Bergeron’s numbers and drive No. 37’s face right into the dasher. For a player with a concussion history as detailed as Bergeron’s, his anger was obviously warranted.

Somehow this sequence ended with the Bruins and Leafs skating four-on-four, as Bergeron’s gloved punches to Soshnikov were deemed as dangerous as his board from behind, which makes a whole lot of sense if you’re a complete bozo.

Despite the cheap shot, Bergeron would not not miss a shift, and finished with four shots on goal in 17:25 of time on ice in the 4-2 loss.

Brad Marchand held without a shot on goal in loss to Maple Leafs 03.21.17 at 3:26 am ET
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The Maple Leafs held Brad Marchand without a shot on goal. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

The Maple Leafs held Brad Marchand without a shot on goal. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

By now, it’s widely known that it’s impossible to contain Bruins winger Brad Marchand. But the Maple Leafs came as close as one team can with their 60-minute effort against the league’s hottest scorer.

Riding into action fresh off being named the NHL’s First Star of the Week, and with points in three straight games, the 28-year-old Marchand was held without a shot on goal in the B’s 4-2 defeat at the hands of the surging Maple Leafs on Monday night.

Denied on two shot attempts that were blocked and a missed shot, Marchand’s failure to put a shot on goal in this game made it just the sixth game that’s come without a shot for No. 63, and his first since Jan. 18’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Red Wings back in Detroit.

Fittingly enough, Marchand played a big factor in the B’s first goal of the night, even without a shot on goal to his credit. In a masterful sequence of moves into the attacking zone, it was Marchand that found Bruins winger David Backes for Backes’ 16th goal of the season, scored 7:26 into the first period of the game. That assist, by the way, gives Marchand 80 points on the season and in doing so makes him the first Bruins player to record 80 points in a season since Marc Savard accomplished the feat in 2008-09.

“We gave Marchand way too much room early,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock admitted after the win. “Then I thought we got more and more competitive as the game went on. I thought we played better and better. A real good win for our team obviously.”

The Bruins are 1-4-1 this season when Marchand is held without a shot on goal.

Questionable penalty against Bruins helps push Leafs to victory 03.20.17 at 11:15 pm ET
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The Bruins and Leafs skated in a playoff atmosphere in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins and Leafs skated in a playoff atmosphere in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

It was the most important game of the season for the Bruins. Same for the Maple Leafs, too, actually. And it lived up to the billing.

It was a game that would have led you to believe that it was being played in April and not March. No check went unfinished. No whistle went without some post-whistle shoving. No line change went unmatched by Bruce Cassidy and the Leafs’ Mike Babcock.

It was the kind of game you would never want to see decided by a questionable penalty call one way or the other.

So naturally, that’s exactly how a 4-2 final between the Bruins and Leafs ended in their fourth and final regular season head-to-head.

With the Bruins in pursuit of the go-ahead goal against the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, B’s forward Dominic Moore was whistled for an interference on a drive to the front of the Toronto net. Matched up with Nikita Soshnikov, Moore outmuscled the Maple Leaf forward, who knew he was coming, and as Soshnikov tumbled down to the ice, the hands of the official went up almost immediately.

Wait, really?

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