Bruins

Marchand's OT goal helps Bruins beat Sharks, 2-1

Marchand's OT goal helps Bruins beat Sharks, 2-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Even a week off for a bye couldn't slow the rolling Boston Bruins under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway with 2:24 left in overtime and the Bruins picked up where they left off before their break by winning their fourth straight game, 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

"This is a really hard building to win in and they've been playing well lately," Marchand said. "With five days off, it's not easy to come back here and feel good. It wasn't always pretty, but we got the two points. That's all that matters."

Ryan Spooner also scored for the Bruins, who remain unbeaten since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien. Tuukka Rask made 29 saves as the Bruins became the fourth team out of 20 to win in their first game back from the bye.

"Obviously it's been well documented that teams coming out of the break haven't been winning, so it was good to get this one," said defenseman Torey Krug, who set up the winning goal.

Patrick Marleau scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who have lost six of eight games heading into their bye week. Four of those losses came in overtime and another in a shootout, giving San Jose nine points during the span. Martin Jones made 25 saves.

San Jose heads into the break with a five-point lead in the Pacific Division over Edmonton and Anaheim

"We're pretty happy to be where we're at," Marleau said. "It's a good spot heading into the break, we're pretty happy with that. Obviously, there's some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we're still in a good spot."

The winning play started on a faceoff in the Bruins' defensive zone. Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff back to Krug, who sent a stretch pass up ice that Marchand retrieved behind the Sharks defense. He skated in all alone on Jones and beat him for his 25th goal of the season.

"We just try to read where the D was set up and Torey made a great play to get it up there after Bergy battled in the draw," Marchand said. "Luckily it kind of worked out for us."

While teams coming out of the bye week have struggled this season with a 3-12-4 record coming into Sunday, the Bruins opened the game with much more energy than the Sharks, who were playing for the second straight night after a win in Arizona on Saturday.

Frank Vatrano had a good chance early that Jones stopped, but the third line cashed in later in the opening period when Jimmy Hayes took a pass from Adam McQuaid at the point and shot it wide. Spooner recovered the puck off the back boards and tucked it into the open net for the first goal of the game.

The Sharks found their legs in the second period and nearly tied it when Brent Burns hit the post before finally getting the equalizer thanks to a fortunate bounce during 4-on-4 play. Burns' point shot was blocked by Krug and the puck went straight to Marleau, who shot it into the open net for his 21st goal of the season late in the second.

NOTES: Burns had 20 shot attempts, but only seven were on net. He had nine shots blocked and four were off target. ... Hayes recorded his 100th career point with his assist on Spooner's goal. ... Marleau tied Joe Mullen for 43rd place all-time with his 502nd career goal. ... Krug played his 300th career game.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Visit Anaheim on Wednesday.

Sharks: Visit Vancouver on Saturday after five-day bye.

Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

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Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it’s still early in the careers of all the young Bruins rookies making their way this season, it sure looks like 22-year-old Danton Heinen is among the B’s youngsters that are here to stay. The former University of Denver standout didn’t make the cut at the end of training camp this season and he failed early last year when it was clear he wasn’t ready during an eight-game audition with the big club.

But Heinen continued to look ready while scoring a pair of goals and three points in the three games on a pivotal road trip through California last week, and is now tied for fifth on the Bruins in points despite missing four games in the AHL. In all, Heinen has four goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 rating in 15 games this season, and is on pace for a really strong 21 goals and 52 points in his first full year.

This has been a really nice step forward for Heinen after being a point-per-game player for Providence during their playoff run last spring.

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“Last year’s playoff did a lot for him. When I saw him playing there, he was a different player than when he’d left [Boston],” said Bruce Cassidy. “There was a willingness to stay in the battle and his growth when it comes to winning pucks…you’ve seen it here. A lot of the things he’s down well are his second and third efforts on the puck where last year I thought he was pushed off the puck pretty easily [at the NHL level].”

There could be a period when his offense slows down or some other part of his game drags his minutes down, but right now he looks like he’s well on his way to establishing himself in a key role with the Black and Gold. The difference has been Heinen increasing his speed and also adding a little more tenacity to the skill and offense package that he was always bringing to the table.  

“I don’t want to say that because when we get our guys healthy then we’ll see where we’re at,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Heinen was a keeper at the NHL level at this point. “But I think he’s certainly shown he’s a much more consistent player than he was last year. He’s probably a bit ahead of the other younger guys because he has gone through a bit of it [at the pro level]. The fact that he’s been able to play in a lot of different situations, play left or right wing, and moved up in the lineup while being very effective with [Sean] Kuraly and [Tim] Schaller down in the lineup, as a coach it’s to have a guy like that who can move around and fit in a lot of different places.

“So he’s certainly helped himself [to stay in the NHL]. I think it’s too early to say if he’s here for good, but I don’t envision him leaving [Boston] anytime soon with the way that he’s played.”

Only time and consistently good play will allow the playmaking Heinen to truly lock up his spot on the NHL roster, but it’s increasingly difficult to envision any scenario where the fifth-round pick isn’t playing an increasingly important role for the Bruins. 

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

BRIGHTON -- In a development that was certainly much sooner than originally anticipated, David Backes has returned to the ice just a matter of weeks after having 10 inches of colon removed during surgery for diverticulitis. It remains to be seen how gradual a process it will be for the 33-year-old to actually return to game action given his original timetable for recovery was eight weeks following the early November procedure, but it seems like it might end up being ahead of the two months Backes was initially expected to be sidelined. 

For his part, Backes was happy to be back skating with his teammates and pushing his recovering body after feeling pretty sluggish for the first few days following surgery. He confirmed he’d been skating for a couple of days while the team was on the West Coast, but Monday was his first team doing anything post-surgery with the rest of the team. 

“It’s good to be back with the guys and to be around the room, and to have seen the kind of resiliency that these guys showed on the road trip. The back half of the road trip was impressive,” said Backes, who has an assist in five games with the Bruins before succumbing to the surgery. “To be on the ice and moving around after sitting around doing nothing for too long where you don’t think you’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it feels good. 

“The doc’s advice is that if it doesn’t hurt then I can keep moving forward and add more of a workload on, so that’s the update for today. It’s still non-contact, but we’ll keep moving along and hopefully I’ll be back doing what I love to do on a regular basis. I haven’t been notified that the timeline has changed at all, so I’m just going to keep putting in the work. The more I seem to do the work the better it is, and I seem to be able to do a little more each day. So those are all positive signs.”

For the Bruins it’s clearly a morale booster to see the big power forward back doing regular hockey activities, and serving notice that he’ll be bringing his size, strength, leadership and physicality back to a B’s team that definitely needs him. Clearly the return of another high-end forward would also immensely help a Bruins team that’s still very undermanned up front, but it would appear there will be some other B’s forwards getting back prior to Backes. 

Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner appear poised to return to full practice on Tuesday with a possible return to the lineup not too far beyond that after all three injured forwards took part in Monday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena. 

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