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Bruins sign BU’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to 3-year entry-level deal 04.02.17 at 5:51 pm ET
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Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has signed with the Bruins. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has signed with the Bruins. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy isn’t the only Boston University Terrier joining the Bruins organization. The B’s announced on Sunday that they have signed 2015 second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to a three-year entry-level contract.

According to the Bruins, Forsbacka Karlsson, whose name is often shortened to “JFK” by fans, is expected to join the B’s this week, suggesting he will not start in Providence like McAvoy.

The 20-year-old Forsbacka Karlsson served as an alternate captain for BU as a sophomore this season and posted 14 goals and 19 assists in 39 games. His best game came back on Jan. 5 when he registered a hat trick, including the overtime winner, in a 5-4 win over Union, a game in which BU was missing seven players due to the World Junior Championships.

Forsbacka Karlsson followed that up with two more goals in the next game, a win over UMass, then scored in each end of a weekend sweep over Boston College. The Sweden native cooled off a bit offensively following that four-game stretch, scoring four goals over BU’s final 18 games.

However, Forsbacka Karlsson’s all-around game remained strong, which is a big reason he’s now a Bruin. He’s been touted as a very good two-way center since before he was drafted, and it was easy to see why if you watched him at BU. He’s a smart player who seems to always be in good position and always making the right play. He’s not what you’d call flashy, but he also rarely makes mistakes.

That two-way play should give him a chance to stick on the Bruins’ third or fourth line even if his offense isn’t quite there yet.

 

Bruins sweep weekend, beat Blackhawks to win 5th straight 04.02.17 at 4:52 pm ET
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The Bruins won their fifth game in a row behind a 3-2 final on Sunday. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins won their fifth game in a row behind a 3-2 final on Sunday. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

Do you remember this weekend a year ago?

The Bruins were clinging to their playoff lives and had a potentially season-defining weekend slate in front of them. Both road games, both tough matchups, with the latter one coming on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back and to be played in Chicago.

The Bruins split that weekend then, with a win over the Blues and a loss to the Blackhawks. This year, in a slightly different weekend (the Bruins began the weekend at home before a game against the Blackhawks came on Sunday) and in the early signs of a reversal of last year, the Bruins completed the weekend sweep with today’s 3-2, claw-it-out finish in a winning effort against the Hawks at the United Center.

And they did it with the help of depth pieces and stars alike.

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Anton Khudobin gets call in net for Bruins vs. Blackhawks 04.02.17 at 12:25 pm ET
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Anton Khudobin will start against the Blackhawks today. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin will start against the Blackhawks today. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins enter Chicago down three forwards — Frank Vatrano and Tim Schaller were announced as out for the weekend after Friday’s practice, and Jimmy Hayes was injured in Saturday’s win over the Panthers — and have made a call to Providence for help.

An emergency recall late last night, forward Sean Kuraly is back with the Black and Gold for the second time in the last few weeks, and is expected to skate on a line with Ryan Spooner and Drew Stafford.

Kuraly comes back to the Big B’s with 14 goals and 26 points in 52 games for the P-Bruins, and has skated in five games for Boston this year, with zero points, three hits, and seven shots on goal.

With Stafford dropped back down to the third line’s right wing, Matt Beleskey will receive a bump back up to the club’s second line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak.

On the second leg of a traveling back-to-back, Anton Khudobin gets the call for the Bruins.

Khudobin has won five straight games, and stopped 18-of-19 shots in a 2-1 win over the Islanders eight days ago, and has six wins and an .899 save percentage in 12 decisions this season. The 30-year-old Khudobin, for whatever reason, has been great under Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy, though, with a perfect 5-0-0 record and .920 save percentage.

Corey Crawford gets the start in the opposite crease. Crawford has 32 wins and a .920 save percentage in 52 games this season, and has been especially dominant at the United Center, with 16 wins and a .930 save percentage in 26 home contests this year.

The Bruins lost their only prior head-to-head with the Hawks this season by a 1-0 final at TD Garden on Jan. 20.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Sean Kuraly – Ryan Spooner – Drew Stafford

Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Colin Miller – Kevan Miller

Anton Khudobin

Bruins will have to make AHL recall as Jimmy Hayes suffers lower-body injury in win 04.01.17 at 6:11 pm ET
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Jimmy Hayes has a lower-body injury. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Jimmy Hayes has a lower-body injury. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

A game against his former club lasted all of 47 seconds for Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes, who departed with a lower-body after just two shifts. That has left the Bruins, who are already down both Frank Vatrano (upper-body) and Tim Schaller (lower-body) for tomorrow’s game against the Blackhawks, to reach down to Providence for relief.

“It looks that way,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said when asked if the club will have to make an AHL recall following Hayes’ injury. “Jimmy [Hayes] has a lower body injury.”

“I don’t know the extent of where he will be tomorrow but right now he’s questionable day-to-day I’d put it at, and we’ll see after we get a further medical report,” Cassidy said of Hayes. “So, we’ll be looking at someone for sure. I can’t tell you who it will be.

“We’ll have those discussions right now.”

Given the versatility of the Big B’s roster — Drew Stafford can play both the left and right side, and players such as Dominic Moore and Riley Nash have played both center and wing this season — the Bruins seemingly have a great deal of options at their disposal.

The most obvious candidate for a recall should probably be Peter Cehlarik. Although the 21-year-old Slovak struggled to get his footing towards the end of his NHL sample this season, Cehlarik has at times been a natural fit on a second line combination with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, and putting him back there could allow the Black and Gold to roll with a third line that features Matt Beleskey on the left, Ryan Spooner in the middle, and Drew Stafford in Hayes’ spot as that line’s right winger.

Hayes has two goals and five points in 58 games this season.

Tuukka Rask’s big third period helps Bruins hang on for win over Panthers 04.01.17 at 6:01 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in a 5-2 win over the Panthers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in a 5-2 win over the Panthers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Much like they did against the Lightning a little over a week ago, the Bruins blew two leads and rather quickly against the Panthers in Saturday afternoon’s head-to-head. The first Florida goal came 4:35 after the B’s opened up the game’s scoring, and their second goal came just 1:57 after the Bruins jumped back out to a one-goal lead.

But unlike their loss to the Bolts, the Bruins did not let it spiral out of control after their third goal was scored, and that was thanks to a massive third period from B’s goaltender Tuukka Rask.

“He was terrific,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Rask’s performance. “They certainly came with the intent to get the tying goal and pushed hard, and we bent certainly but didn’t break.”

The third period epitomized the B’s bend-but-don’t-break strategy, too, as they were outshot 13-to-3 — with all 13 of the Panthers’ shots stopped by Rask — before Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a two-goal cushion with less than two minutes to play in the third period.

That barrage against Rask probably should have come with a goal or two against, but it was his poise in the crease (along with an impossibly bad 21 missed shots from Florida shooters) that allowed the Bruins to hold and then extend their lead in a 5-2 final. It also came following a first period in which the Panthers put just three shots on goal, and a second period that came with 10.

“Well, it’s easy when you make the saves,” Rask said of the gradual uptick in shots thrown his way on an afternoon that featured a few bouncing pucks. “But, if you happen to let a couple in, then it obviously becomes even tougher. Tough game kind of, mentally, to stay with it because you don’t see any pucks. But, good rhythm in the third period and I was able to keep them out.”

“Tuukka made some good stops and we were able to limit any second chance opportunities, which is important,” Cassidy said. “And, odd man rushes…we didn’t defend the neutral zone well enough, certainly they came through there quickly, we didn’t break it out well enough, but that’s going to happen from time to time. We’ll learn from it and hopefully get better at it.”

With the win, Rask improved to 3-0-0 with just three goals allowed on 75 shots against (a .960 save percentage) since missing last Saturday’s game in Brooklyn. Rask has also matched his single-season career-high in wins, set back in 2013-14, with 36.

The 30-year-old Rask will get tomorrow’s game against the Blackhawks off, as the Bruins continue to try and find some rest for their ace in the crease, and turn to Anton Khudobin on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back.

“The rest is a big factor at this point in the year,” Rask, who has played in all but 17 of the club’s 78 games to date this season, admitted. “Dobby is going to step up tomorrow and play a great game against Chicago.”

Shawn Thornton thanks fans, named 3rd Star in final game at TD Garden 04.01.17 at 5:30 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton played his final game at TD Garden on Saturday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Shawn Thornton played his final game at TD Garden on Saturday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Like the rest of his Panthers teammates following their elimination from postseason contention on Thursday night, Shawn Thornton is simply playing out the string. But for the 39-year-old Thornton, who is expected to retire this summer, it’s a little bit different.

In his third year of coming back to Boston as a visitor with the Cats, Thornton was once again cheered in today’s game against the Bruins, and with everybody in town knowing that this was his going to be his last game at the Garden he brought to its feet so many times for so many years, Thornton was given an ovation and cheered on one last time as the game’s third star in a 5-2 loss to the Bruins.

“Definitely a little emotional,” Thornton said of his final game in Boston and third star honors. “It didn’t really sink in until [Patrice Bergeron] came over and said he loved me. For the third star, I appreciate that, you know getting that and people sticking around and applauding me when I came out. That’s probably the closest I have been to getting choked up in a bit so, I mean it’s emotional but I had a good run, no regrets, no complaints, I’m very happy with my career.”

One last hurrah in the building he called his home rink from 2007 to 2014 was the least Thornton could have been given considering the fact that he did just about everything a fourth-line, enforcer could do during his time with the Black and Gold.

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Bruins roll Panthers for 4th straight win, have 5-point playoff cushion 04.01.17 at 3:40 pm ET
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The Bruins extended their win streak to four with a 3-2 final over the Panthers. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins extended their win streak to four with a 5-2 final over the Panthers. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Saturday’s Bruins win over the Panthers at TD Garden featured almost everything with the exception of a thank you note from their visitors.

In a game that meant little for the Panthers, who were eliminated on Thursday by virtue of their loss to the Canadiens combined with the B’s win over the Stars, the Panthers played that part early and often.

Helped by two first period power-play opportunities, the Bruins jumped out to a staggering 11-to-3 shot advantage over the Cats, but it was strong side to side movement from Florida third-string goaltender Reto Berra that blanked the Bruins in the attacking zone.

But then, through no fault of Berra’s, the Bruins found their opening.

Panthers defenseman Jakub Kindl flubbed his point shot, and that allowed B’s forward Noel Acciari to storm down on Berra. Without a defender in sight in front of Acciari, Kindl hooked Acciari, but it hardly mattered, as the hard-hitting Acciari ripped a shot through Berra and into the back of Berra’s cage for his second goal in three games, and on the Bruins’ 12th shot of the day.

An unassisted tally, least not from anybody wearing a B’s sweater, the ‘make ’em pay’ nature of the Bruins became a theme.

The Panthers tied things back up with Thomas Vanek’s 17th goal of the season, scored 1:38 into the second period and off some bodies in a pinball-style goal around Tuukka Rask’s crease, but the Bruins were quick to respond.

With David Pastrnak back with the Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand combination for a quick minute, Bergeron rifled his 19th goal of the season home at the 7:56 mark to put the Black and Gold back on top. But with Marchand parked in front of Berra and perhaps preventing him from being able to make the save, Panthers coach Tom Rowe issued a challenge of the call.

It was there that the goal held, and the Bruins took advantage, of course through no power of their, to rob Florida of a timeout.

(For the record, there was a fair amount of contact and I had to admit that it felt like the goal was going to come back. And that’s without mentioning the fact that it’s happened to the Bruins on six different occasions this season via a coach’s challenge.)

Florida once again refused to go away, though, and a power-play goal from Jaromir Jagr made it 2-2 just 1:57 later.

But their giving mood dommed them once more. As Berra went to the side of his net to play a dump-in (and leave his net vacant in the process), he recklessly tossed the puck along the boards, where it was intercepted by David Krejci and pounded home for his 23rd goal of the season and a 3-2 Bruins lead through 40 minutes of play.

Through two periods, the Bruins had three goals — and two credited assists. Combined.

Down by a goal, and with the Bruins sentenced to the box for the fourth time in the game, the Panthers gave it one last go, with a Vincent Trocheck deflection that went just wide of Rask, and with the 30-year-old Rask having to step up for 13 saves in a period that saw the Bruins outshot by 10 shots (13-to-3) before Vanek was whistled for a high-stick with just 2:07 left in the game.

23 seconds into the power play, and on a second-chance look, Brad Marchand put his 39th goal of the season home.

It was the deathblow to the Panthers’ comeback hopes, and Patrice Bergeron’s last-second empty-net goal put an exclamation point on that for a three-goal lead and his 20th goal of the year, and more enough for the B’s fourth win in a row.

In a weekend where points are the name of the game — especially with a scheduled loss tomorrow in Chicago — the Bruins accomplished their mission and have by all means evened out the negatives that came during their four-game losing skid last week, with four straight wins. That run has given them 90 points, and with a five-point edge on the second wild card heading into tonight’s games, with all eyes on the Lightning’s game with the Canadiens.

The Bruins return to action tomorrow against the Blackhawks.

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