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Zdeno Chara hits Bruins milestone in losing effort 03.24.17 at 3:12 am ET
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Zdeno Chara hit a milestone with his second shorthanded goal of the season. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Zdeno Chara hit a milestone with his second shorthanded goal of the season. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

On a night of few positives as the club’s losing streak reached a season-worst four games, this one by a 6-3 final at the hands of the Lightning, the Bruins found just one as the 40-year-old Zdeno Chara accomplished something not seen in over two decades.

With the Bruins on the penalty kill in the second period, and with Chara’s go-to pairing partner in the box, the Bruins started a rush up ice and loose puck found its way to a storming Chara. And with a slight assist from the Lightning’s Victor Hedman, who helped steer the puck Chara’s with a botched clearing attempt, Chara sniped the B’s second goal of the night home against the Bolts’ Peter Budaj for a 2-1 lead.

In what was Chara’s eighth goal of the season, the shorthanded marker stood as Big Z’s second shortie of the season, which makes him the first Bruins defenseman to record multiple shorthanded goals in a season since Ray Bourque accomplished the feat in 1995-96 (two goals).

It also makes Chara just the eighth defenseman in team history to hit that milestone — Bourque did it three times, Bobby Orr accomplished it a franchise-best four times, while Don Sweeney, Glen Wesley, Dick Redmond, and Dallas Smith each scored multiple shorties one time during their respective Bruins tenures — and just the 17th NHL defender to do it since 2005.

Still, the shorthanded goal could not save a B’s penalty kill that surrendered two power-play goals in the loss, both from Nikita Kucherov, and finished the night with just three kills on five stints down a skater.

“We had obviously some bad bounces. It’s going to happen, the last one. We need to be better. Starts obviously with us, who are out on the ice,” Chara said of the team’s penalty kill, which has allowed seven goals on their last 19 times shorthanded. “We need to take away other team’s top plays, give them as little as possible, and be willing to do whatever it takes to kill those, and yeah, we need to be better. I mean, it’s been working for us the whole year. We know we can do the job. Obviously, it’s slipped the past few games. We need to go back, and bounce back and be on a roll, and kill those penalties.”

Chara has played a league-high 250:16 of shorthanded time on ice this season.

Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy after loss: ‘Tuukka needed to be better tonight’ 03.23.17 at 11:26 pm ET
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Bruce Cassidy thinks the Bruins needed more from Tuukka Rask in their loss to the Lightning. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy thought the team needed more from Tuukka Rask in their loss to the Lightning. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

A broken skate blade turned out to be the least of Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask’s worries in a 6-3 loss to the Lightning on Thursday.

In the club’s fourth straight regulation defeat (their longest such streak this season, as a four-game slide from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22 featured one shootout loss), the 30-year-old Rask struggled with five goals allowed on just 28 Tampa Bay shots thrown his way on the night.

If those numbers weren’t bad enough for Rask, the manner in which the Bolts scored against Rask was nothing short of straight-up backbreaking, with counterattack goals scored immediately after each of the B’s goals scored, and with none taking longer than 1:35 of game time to end up in the back of Rask’s net.

“Well he’s played a lot, but I don’t have the answer,” Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said when asked if Rask’s struggles were a product of fatigue or lack of focus.

“He needed to be better tonight.”

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Bruins blow three leads to Lightning, lose 4th straight 03.23.17 at 9:56 pm ET
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The Bruins blew three leads on Thursday night. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins blew three leads on Thursday night. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Present slump aside, in-game leads have been more than safe in 18 games under Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

But as the Bruins seem hellbent on dropping into the upside down world for a third straight stretch run, leads were anything but safe in the club’s near must-win against the Lightning on Thursday at TD Garden, and helped propel their downfall in a 6-3 loss to the Bolts.

After a sleepy first period in which space and time was at a premium for both the desperate Bruins and somehow-even-more-desperate Lightning — the highlight of the period came in the B’s end, with Tuukka Rask coming up with two big stops on Nikita Kucherov on a Lightning power play opportunity — the Bruins struck with a power-play courtesy of David Pastrnak just 1:33 into the middle period.

But as the Bruins were caught in their own zone right after the Pastrnak strike, the Lightning countered 44 seconds later, as Brayden Point buried a third-chance look home on Tuukka Rask.

And the theme of the night was established.

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Bruins hope to snap out of penalty killing funk against Lightning 03.23.17 at 7:08 pm ET
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Nikita Kucherov has scored a league-leading 15 power-play goals this season. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Nikita Kucherov has scored a league-leading 15 power-play goals this season. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Monday was the important game of the season for the Bruins. They lost that contest, though, by a 4-2 final in Toronto. So Tuesday then became the most important game of the season for the Bruins. And after losing that game, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Senators, Thursday against the Lightning has become the most important game of the season.

Oh, and also, do you sense a theme here?

Locked in a dogfight to the finish in search of snapping their two-year playoff drought, the Bruins find themselves mired in a three-game slide, their first under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

One of the biggest letdowns over the course of that three-game slide has been the B’s penalty killing group — which has been a standout for the Black and Gold all season long — that has surrendered five power-play goals against on their last 14 times shorthanded.

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Noel Acciari bumped to third line as Bruins look for offensive balance 03.23.17 at 1:29 pm ET
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Noel Acciari has been promoted to the third line. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Noel Acciari has been promoted to the third line for tonight’s game against the Lightning. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Forward Noel Acciari has apparently made an impression in his first two games under Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Originally an emergency recall (but transitioned into a regular recall midway through his first game up with the club), the 25-year-old banger has chipped in with an assist, four shots on goal, and five hits in a combined 20:27 of time on ice between losses to the Leafs and Senators to start the B’s increasingly do-or-die week.

It’s the workmanlike sample that’s to be expected from Acciari, and one prompted Cassidy, whose team has dropped three games in a row for the first time since he took over for Claude Julien, to give No. 55 an actual promotion for the first time in his NHL career.

Slated as the right-side complement to the Black and Gold’s third line with Ryan Spooner at center and Frank Vatrano to the left when the Bruins play host to the desperate Lightning tonight at TD Garden, Acciari’s boost up to the third line is just one of several made in another day of line changes.

Something that Cassidy has somewhat made his calling card in 18 games behind the bench.

“It gives you guys something to talk about,” Cassidy joked of his line changes after the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena.

But there is a method to the madness of moving an energy skater to the club’s third line, too.

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Ex-Bruin Marc Savard tweets that Bruins will make the playoffs 03.22.17 at 7:01 pm ET
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When concussions cut Marc Savard’s NHL career entirely too short, there was little for the playmaking extraordinaire to keep his mind at ease. It was hard to find a player that loved hockey more than No. 91, and one that loved being a member of the Bruins more than Savard did. And unable to be in Boston or with the team after his last concussion, which occurred back in Jan. 2011, Savard used Twitter to remain an active part of the B’s community, and would often chime in with his thoughts on the team.

One weird, borderline unbelievable talent of Savard’s came early in the 2011-12 season, when he would use Twitter to make predictions based on that night’s Bruins game. His accuracy was pretty remarkable, too, and nearly rivaled his passing prowess.

On Nov. 7, 2011, Savard predicted a big win over the Isles and big nights from Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. He wasn’t wrong, as the Bruins beat the Isles 6-2 while Lucic and Horton combined for three goals and five points. After that game, Savard then said that the Bruins were going to rattle off five straight wins. They won seven games in a row. Early in December, although he didn’t make a stone cold prediction, Savard said that the Bruins needed Tim Thomas to have a monster game. Thomas went on to stop 45-of-46 shots against that night, as the Bruins defeated the Penguins by a 3-1 final.

Savard, now a member of the Devils in name alone (the Bruins traded his contract to the Panthers in the Jimmy Hayes deal, and the Panthers then moved it to the Devils as a cap space maneuver of sorts), decided to dust off the magic on Wednesday.

https://twitter.com/MSavvy91/status/844579859351453697

Anything he can do to help, right?

Bruins sniper David Pastrnak hangs head after loss: ‘I’ve got to be better’ 03.22.17 at 6:25 pm ET
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David Pastrnak is battling through a scoring slump. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak is battling through a scoring slump. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The goals are not coming like they once did for Bruins winger David Pastrnak. And in anything but a shocking correlation, for a Black and Gold group that’s dropped three games in a row for the first time under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, neither are the wins.

Following his two-shot, minus-3 night in Toronto on Monday, a 4-2 loss, Pastrnak returned to the Hub and put just three of the B’s 36 shots on net in yet another zero-zero-zero night on the scoresheet, and 3-2 defeat at the hands of a Sens club that’s all three meetings this year.

After the game, Pastrnak did not hold himself back when it came to analyzing his struggles on back-to-back nights.

“I’ve got to be better,” a frustrated Pastrnak said after the game. “I’ve got to make more plays and be better. I’ve got to be better.”

The slump could not come at a worse time for the Bruins, who again have dropped three games in a row, and are set to begin the second half of this crucial week with games against the Lightning on Thursday at the Garden and Isles on Saturday in Brooklyn. It doesn’t make matters any easier that this slump has not only come in the most important week of the season for the B’s, but immediately after Pastrnak’s hottest streak of his professional career to date, with six goals and 15 points in 11 games before these two games.

“It looks like the puck’s not cooperating with him and that happens to goal scorers so he’s just going to have to play through it – he did earlier this year,” Cassidy said of Pastrnak, who went through an 18-game goal drought earlier this season, on Tuesday. “Clearly we don’t want it to be as extended as it was then, I don’t think it will be. He’s a more mature player and person but he’ll have to find his way through it and sometimes you have to score an ugly goal, get a greasy one to get out of those things.”

There’s no doubt that teams have keyed in on the 20-year-old winger of late, too, as Pastrnak has been routinely battered around through the neutral zone and around the net, and has been the subject of numerous post-whistle shoving contests.

“It’s part of the game, you know?” Pastrnak, who was involved in a massive scrum after the final horn sounded on Tuesday night, noted. “The guys are going to hit. I just need to stick with it and not let it frustrate me.”

Last night have been the height of Pastrnak’s frustration, as his attempts to weave through multiple defenders were often met with either a turnover or with him planted on his behind and the puck going the other way. And some liberties taken against him.

“You don’t want to be thrown around, so you have to go respond,” Pastrnak said. “And it’s just hockey, you know?”

A frustrated Pastrnak does little good for the B’s though, and they have to know it. Be it on the club’s first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand as perhaps the league’s best line or with David Krejci on the club’s second line — Cassidy, for what it’s worth, flipped Pastrnak around the night as went on and put him on different lines — the Bruins have been at their best when No. 88 has found a way to factor into the game’s scoring with either a goal or a timely helper for that matter.

“He’s got to keep pushing — we need him,” Cassidy said.

And ain’t that the truth; Through 73 games this season, the Bruins are a dominating 24-16-2 when Pastrnak records at least one point (50 of a possible 84 points), and 8-12-4 (20 of a possible 48 points) when Pastrnak plays but is held off the scoreboard.

“We’re relying on him to score,” continued Cassidy. “He’s not the only guy, but we’re relying on him.”

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