Bruins

Bruins snap four-game losing streak with 2-1 win over Kings

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Bruins snap four-game losing streak with 2-1 win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- The Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings were two teams going in the wrong direction, the losses suddenly piling up for both of them.

Something had to change when they met Thursday night and it did for the Bruins, who made Zdeno Chara's tiebreaking goal in the second period stand up for a 2-1 victory over the Kings.

"Our guys were sick of losing," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team snapped a four-game skid.

The Kings, however, continued their unexpected spiral. After starting the season 11-2-2 for the best record in the Western Conference, they have dropped four in a row.

"We're going to have to dig down," coach John Stevens said. "You can't have part of your lineup going. You need your whole lineup going if you're going to win. It doesn't matter who you're playing."

The Kings won in Boston on Oct. 28 in the last second of overtime off a faceoff. This time, the Bruins returned the favor.

Patrice Bergeron won a faceoff for Boston in the first period and the puck went to Charlie McAvoy, who skated across the crease and lifted a backhand over the shoulder of goalie Jonathan Quick.

"I thought we played a much more complete game," McAvoy said. "We really wanted to get a win. It's been a while. We put together a complete 60 minutes."

Los Angeles tied it 1-all at 4:33 of the second on a power play. Jussi Jokinen found Drew Doughty open in the middle and the defenseman flicked in his fourth of the season.

Boston regained the lead at 13:16 when Chara fired a slap shot from outside the lower part of the circle that deflected off the stick of Los Angeles' Trevor Lewis a few feet in front of the net. The puck nicked the back of Quick's jersey and went in for Chara's second goal this season.

"I'm real happy with the way we played," Chara said. "We battled and deserved to win."

But the Bruins still had to hang on to preserve the victory, with almost 27 minutes yet to play.

"It's been an issue for us, closing out games," Cassidy said. "We did it well, comfortable. We didn't look scrambly. We didn't look like we lost our composure or poise."

The Kings never got another puck past backup goalie Anton Khudobin, who stopped 27 shots and improved to 4-0-2.

Quick made 28 saves for Los Angeles.

"You had that sense we did not want to let it go," Chara said. "You had that feel on the bench."

The Kings aren't sure what to feel after getting off to such an impressive start and now suddenly reeling.

"I don't think we're playing a 60-minute game," Anze Kopitar said. "Parts of the games, we play like we need to be, where we're in their zone making plays, creating chances.

"And in parts of the games, we're just pretty much non-existent out there. That's got to change. We have to have a better effort from everybody for a full game."

NOTES: Boston center David Krejci returned after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury. He played 18 minutes. "I felt pretty good for my first game back," Krejci said. . Kopitar assisted on Doughty's goal, extending his point streak to a career-best nine games. . The Kings had one four-game losing streak all last season. . The Bruins earned their second road win of the season.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Head to San Jose to play the Sharks on Saturday.

Kings: Stay home Saturday to host the Florida Panthers.

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Spooner travels with Bruins but questionable for Detroit

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Spooner travels with Bruins but questionable for Detroit

BRIGHTON, Mass – Ryan Spooner has practiced in each of the past two days, but his status is still in question for the back-to-back Bruins games against the Red Wings and Capitals over the next couple of days.

Spooner has missed the past couple of games with a lower-body injury after playing in the previous five contests following a month-long layoff with a groin injury. The current injury is believed to be similar in nature to the original groin problem and that’s the reason the Bruins are treating it cautiously as they approach Wednesday night’s game in Detroit.

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“He’s practicing fully with the team, and the long and short of it is that he’s still day-to-day. We’ll decide [on Wednesday] but we just want to keep moving forward with him,” said Bruce Cassidy, who also mentioned that Kevan Miller was missing from practice to be with his wife for the birth of their child. “We’ve had a couple of stops and starts with him, so we’re going to manage it to the best of our ability so we’re moving forward [in his recovery]. He’ll travel with the team, and if we decide that he’s in the lineup [vs. the Red Wings] then Donnie [Sweeney] and I will talk about how that’s going to affect our roster.”

Spooner has played 10 games this season, with a goal and four points in the intermittent action. It’s too bad as Spooner has been pretty good when healthy and has played with speed and a higher level of competitiveness this season when he’s actually suited up.

The problem with Spooner’s return at this point, however, is that the Bruins have a third line of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes that’s been gaining traction in recent days and had a monster game vs. Arizona last week. A return from injured reserve for Spooner would mean that the Bruins finally have to make a tough roster choice. Either put a player such as Frank Vatrano on waivers or send a young player such as Sean Kuraly down who deserves to stay based on his performance.

With Spooner’s status in question for the next two games, here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Tuukka Rask set to get the start Wednesday night in Detroit:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Vatrano-Spooner-Beleskey

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Postma

McQuaid

 
Rask

Khudobin

Carlo going through learning curve in second season

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Carlo going through learning curve in second season

BRIGHTON, Mass – After a strong rookie season playing in a top defenseman role for the Bruins, Brandon Carlo knew it was going to be a healthy challenge to surpass that in his sophomore season.

Carlo, 21, is certainly experiencing that learning curve in his second go-round through the league while getting used to a different defense partner in Torey Krug and tasked with the high-leverage shutdown duties he so effectively embraced as a 20-year-old rookie with virtually zero AHL experience. Certainly, there has been plenty of good as Carlo is a plus-4 in 27 games and is averaging a solid 18:59 of ice time per game while providing his strong defensive zone presence.

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Clearly, there is more responsibility resting squarely on his 6-foot-5, 203-pound shoulders partnered with more of a free-wheeling offensive D-man in Krug, and that’s something he takes very seriously among his duties.

“It’s definitely a different situation, but I’m enjoying it. I feel like Torey and I are continuing to develop chemistry and we’re doing pretty well on the defensive aspect of things. There are a couple of mistakes here and there, but I feel like that’s going to happen to everybody,” said Carlo. “Playing with Torey gives us a chance to make a few more plays offensively when I’m moving my feet and getting up ice quickly and carrying the puck a little bit.

“Ultimately, I’m going to stick with the defensive parts of my game and let [Krug] take over the offense. I pride myself on the defensive aspect of things. I think we all know that. If he can join the rush and make something happen then that’s great, and I feel comfortable handling things on the back end. Last year, it was me and [Zdeno Chara] back together at all times, so it’s something I’ve gotten more comfortable with as we’ve gone along.”

But there are also plenty of areas where Carlo can improve with the raw skating, size, strength and shooting skills to be even more of a factor offensively than he’s been with four assists in the first 27 games. Clearly. Carlo is never going to be a Charlie McAvoy-style offensive defenseman and his absence from the power play is always going to keep his overall offensive production in check.

Still, Carlo could be more of an offensive factor if/when he can tap into a little more confidence with the puck on his stick. There are still moments like in the victory over the Arizona Coyotes last week when Carlo had a rough turnover to Christian Dvorak deep in his own end that immediately turned into a goal for the Yotes.

The turnover wasn’t the problem, as that sometimes happens to all defensemen both young and old. Perhaps Carlo could have been a little stronger on the puck or opted for a simpler play off the glass, but hockey is a fast game where stuff happens.

The problem for Carlo arrived afterward when it looked like he didn’t want the puck on his stick and it resulted in several icings in a second period where the Bruins struggled to move the puck out of their own end.

“I didn’t mind the turnover because he was trying to make a safe play off the wall and it just didn’t get there," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "It wasn’t an egregious turnover trying to beat somebody in front of your own net or a lazy pass. I think after that he struggled to find his game, and then in the third [period], he got it back. That’s an area that Brandon has to grasp as a young kid, especially at a position where those mistakes are magnified. If he makes that play as a forward there is another layer to cover up.

“That’s where Charlie [McAvoy] has an advantage over a lot of other young guys because he’s able to park that stuff. We went through some of that last year with [Carlo] and he was able to get it back. That’s why we have trust in him. The thing about Brandon is that he cares and he’ll always work his ass off to get his game back in working order. Sometimes he cares too much, and you can’t fault a kid for that.”

Carlo eventually snapped out of it and the Bruins ended up dropping six goals on the Coyotes in a happily-ever-after sort of ending, but Carlo knows that developing the reset button in his short-term memory is still a work in progress.

“I definitely agree [it’s an area to improve] and more experience in the league is going to help me with that,” said Carlo. “I tell myself to [have a short memory] but it’s easier said than done. I definitely learned from [the Arizona game] and I don’t want to grip my stick too tightly after I make a mistake. The coaching staff was great with me after that. Ultimately it was my own mental mindset that made me a little scattered after that, but overall I’m working on it and getting it under control.”

True to form, Carlo bounced back with a strong 20:11 of ice time against the Islanders on Saturday night when the Bruins put together one of their strong defensive efforts of the season. It’s all part of the learning process for one of Boston’s crop of young defensemen who are still learning and getting better all the time.