Rask solid as Bruins hold off Panthers, 2-1

Rask solid as Bruins hold off Panthers, 2-1

SUNRISE, FL – It didn’t look particularly promising for the Bruins headed into Tuesday night’s game in Florida, and it looked even less so when the availability of Patrice Bergeron was called into question after he missed morning skate. 

-- Haggerty's Talking Points: Rask stands tall
-- Bergeron: 'It's all about battling through' the injury
-- Rask continues his early season domination

But Bergeron answered the bell when it mattered against the Panthers on Tuesday night, and the Bruins bounced back from a poor first period to a 2-1 win over Florida at the BB&T Center behind another strong effort from Tuukka Rask. Now the Bruins have won two games in a row while scoring a grand total of three goals after allowing 14 goals in their previous three games, all losses, so the goaltending and defense have clearly tightened up. 

The B’s netminder stopped 33 shots to improve his record to 5-0-0 on the season, and was at his best early in the game when the Bruins were getting outshot 13-3 in the first period while struggling to get the puck out of their own end. He also helped the Bruins withstand a late barrage from the Panthers in the closing minutes.

The Bruins held a lead after one period, however, on the strength of a successful Brad Marchand penalty shot that probably gave Roberto Luongo nightmares about the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Marchand went in looking to go forehand, got Bobby Lou to drop down and then flipped a backhanded bid up high before shrugging his shoulders like it was no big deal. 

Marchand’s fourth goal of the season snapped a four game goalless streak for the left winger, and gave the Black and Gold a little margin for error after the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins bounced back with a much improved second period, and added to the lead with a Dominic Moore shorthanded strike that was upheld by video review. The Moore shot bounced off one post and then quickly ricocheted out of the net after hitting the top of the netting, but it was clear on replay that the fourth line center had his third goal of the season. 

The rest was up to Rask and a Bruins penalty killing unit that had its work cut out for them by a bevy of penalties in the second and third period as the undermanned Bruins held tightly to their modest lead. 

Backes cut by errant skate blade in scary incident during Tampa game

File Photo

Backes cut by errant skate blade in scary incident during Tampa game


TAMPA – It’s always scary when errant skate blades injure players on the ice, and that appeared to be the case in Tampa Bay on Saturday night as David Backes rushed off the ice after a scrum in the Lightning end. 

It appeared that Yanni Gourde’s skate blade cut Backes in the right thigh area after he went down to his knees while heading toward the Tampa net, and the Bruins power forward immediately skated off the ice while putting no weight on his right leg. It wasn’t immediately known whether Backes would return to the game or not for a Bruins team that was already missing Patrice Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy from the lineup with injuries. 

Backes had been moved up to the Bruins top line for Saturday night’s big game against the Lightning as a result of those injuries, and scored one of Boston’s two first period goals in taking an early lead against the Atlantic Division-leading Bolts. We’ll have more updates as they come in on Backes from Tampa Bay after that scary incident in the final minute of the first period.


Slowed after a hot start, Rick Nash looking to 'open up the gates' on offense

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Slowed after a hot start, Rick Nash looking to 'open up the gates' on offense

TAMPA, Fla. – Rick Nash stormed in smoking hot for the Bruins after his trade to Boston ahead of the NHL trade deadline. He had two goals, three points and a whopping 15 shots on net in the three games after jumping into the lineup.

But it’s been a bit of an offensive slowdown for Nash with one goal and two points in his past seven games on Boston’s second line as they’ve shouldered a bit more offensive responsibility with Patrice Bergeron out. Nash, 33, it’s been par-for-the-course for a career where goals have come in bunches and offense moves in bursts that have become more spread out as he’s gotten a little older.

“It seems like my whole career I’ve always scored in bunches,” said Nash. “The chances are there. That’s the positive thing, but usually, it takes a funny one to go in to open up the [flood] gates. If we get a bit more traffic around the goalie it helps, and get a few more shots from the inside than the outside, where it’s tougher to score. You look at the highlights every night and the goals are all scored right around the net.”

Nash has enjoyed his share of chances in those seven games with 23 shots on net and at Carolina on Tuesday night was the only real stinker for him among the bunch. He's been around the net with his 6-4, 220-pound frame, working on the chemistry with David Krejci and actually skating better than most around the Bruins might have hoped for such a big-bodied player.

So, Bruce Cassidy is expecting his big power forward to finish some of those chances as he heats up a little bit offensively.

“I think he’s had one game where he didn’t have very many opportunities, but other than that he’s been around the net every night. It just hasn’t gone in as much as we had hoped,” said Cassidy. “So I don’t know him well enough to know whether that’s a trend, or if he’s just a little snake-bitten.”

The bottom line with Nash is that he’s consistently been a beast around the net and a puck possession force that can’t be derailed by defensive players attempting to take the puck from him. It will be interesting tonight for Nash playing against a number of his former teammates with ex-Rangers Ryan Callahan, J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh now all members of the Tampa Bay Lightning. That familiarity, along with the teams vying for the Atlantic Division top spot, should make it a special night for Nash along several lines.

“His size is his biggest asset I think, and the way he can hold onto it and control the play. Sometimes he grabs the puck and you can’t take it off his hands. He reminds me a little of Jaromir Jagr when you played him, and he sticks his butt into you and you can’t do much with it,” said former New York Rangers captain and current Lightning forward Callahan. “It’s tough to see him go to Boston where it’s a divisional rivalry, but I know what kind of guy he is, what kind of player he is…and that’s a huge pickup for Boston.”

In a huge game against the Lightning, who the B's are chasing. Facing his old Rangers buddies, Saturday night would certainly be a perfect time for the Nash goal-scoring floodgates to open for an undermanned Bruins team looking to make a stand.