Bruins

Marchand shines as Bruins defeat Blues, 4-2

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Marchand shines as Bruins defeat Blues, 4-2

ST. LOUIS, MO The Bruins had to battle, grind and scrape their way through against a Blues team thats been dominant at home all season, but they managed to get a hard-fought, badly-needed victory.

The stagnant Bs offense exploded for three goals in the first period, withstood everything the competitive Blues could throw at them in the second frame and survived for a 4-2 win over the Blues at Scottrade Center.

The victory snapped Bostons two-game losing streak and handed St. Louis their first home loss since a Dec. 3 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.

It wasnt easy, but nothing has been for the Black and Gold lately.

Brad Marchand opened things up with an early going after picking the pockets of former BU defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and roofing a shot over Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Milan Lucic tipped home a Joe Corvo point shot to give the Bs a two-goal lead early, but then St. Louis punched back with everything they had.

Chris Stewart beat Tim Thomas with a whirling blast of a loose puck in front of the net, and Ryan Reaves tipped home a TJ Crombeen shot to tie things up in the opening 20 minutes.

But the Bruins answered before the first 20 minutes of scoring was up, and Chris Kelly snapped home a shot from the slot area after a smart centering pass from Lucic set everything into motion. From there it was up to Thomas to dominate with 14 saves in the second period after looking slightly shaky in the opening minutes of the contest.

Marchand added his second goal of the night after a long lead pass from Tyler Seguin freed him for a breakaway, and he tucked the puck between Elliotts pads for the backbreaking insurance goal.

GOLD STAR

Brad Marchand created the bookend scores by manufacturing a goal early when he picked Kevin Shattenkirks pocket in the first period by the blue line before firing a shot past Brian Elliott. The Nose Face Killah also ended things with a five-hole score off a breakaway set up by a sweet Tyler Seguin stretch pass in the third period to create some breathing room for the Black and Gold. The two goals snapped a six-game goal-scoring drought for Marchand and put him over 20 goals again for the second time in two NHL seasons. Marchand hadnt brought much energy lately in a performance that was symbolic of the entire team, but he brought the goods against St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE

Jordan Caron was relegated to the bench in the third period when it was pretty clear that the 20-year-old winger was a tad overwhelmed on the ice. Both Caron and Carter Camper didnt get a shift in the final 20 minutes when Claude Julien shortened his bench, and with Camper it was understandable in his first career NHL game. But Caron needs to start being more of a consistent factor when his line was a liability getting hemmed into the zone throughout the game. No shots, no hits and no presence in 5:14 of ice time on nine shifts.

TURNING POINT

Tim Thomas wasnt able to track the pucks in the first period when screens and bouncing pucks added up to a pair of goals allowed, but Thomas locked it down in the second period. The Bruins were out-shot by a 14-4 margin in the middle 20 minutes, but Thomas locked things down and finished things off with a flourishing glove save on Kris Russell from the high slot area. Thomas finished with 30 saves and the kind of bounce-back performance enjoyed by the entire team, but his ability to hold it together in the second was a big key.

HONORABLE MENTION

Zdeno Chara was second on the Bs in ice time with 23:27, finished with a plus-3, doled out five hits and was the kind of menacing defensive presence hes always been known for. Big Zee led the way with some stalwart defensive work and enjoyed his best game in about two weeks while rising to the occasion when the team needed it. His play and the teams result are inexorably linked and Wednesday nights win over the Blues just hammered that fact home.

BY THE NUMBERS

13-0-0 the record this season for the Bruins when Chris Kelly notches at least one goal. His strike at the end of the first ended up being the game-winner and tied his single-season career-high with 15 goals on the year.

QUOTE TO NOTE

What does Cam always say? The flu is just a really good sweat. Shawn Thornton when asked if the flu would ever keep him out of an NHL game after playing 11:09 of ice time while fighting through a flu bug that kept him out of the morning skate.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game. 

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

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Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.