After missing 15 games due to a partially torn MCL in his left knee, Krejci showed no ill effects from his hiatus, recording a pair of assists and logging 19 minutes, 45 seconds of ice time. Afterward, Krejci said he felt fine.
"It always happens when I miss a bunch of games: When you come back, you're a little bit more careful," Krejci said. "But as the game went along, I felt better and better. Hopefully, the next game all I'm going to think about is the game and not going to worry too much about other things."
"I enjoyed it," Krejci said of being back in the lineup. "There are things I still have to work on as a winger. It's a little different, but I thought I had a decent game. I know I can do much more Hopefully, I'll be better on Saturday."
Julien said he was pleased with Krejci's game.
"The guy's missed the first two months of the season and then five weeks just lately," Julien said. "His pace probably isn't where it should be, but he was a good addition to our hockey club tonight."
Thursday marked only Krejci's 39th game of the season. Prior to his recent absence, he also missed 20 games with a lower-body injury.
Asked how he would describe this season, Krejci said, "Tough. But I've got to stick with it, stay positive, believe in myself, believe in this group that we can do it. That's all I can control."
BOSTON -- Just as the 17,565 in attendance Thursday at TD Garden began one of the loudest “Let’s go Bruins” chants of the season, the Anaheim Ducks scored at 3:09 of overtime to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2.
It was another crushing defeat for the Bruins, and despite earning one point, Boston dropped its sixth consecutive game. Fortunately for the Bruins, the New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-1, which means Boston and Ottawa both have 85 points. The Senators, however, have a game in hand on the Bruins.
This loss for Boston is another example of how its entire season can be described.
The Bruins had a 2-1 lead in the final minute of regulation, when the Ducks pulled goaltender Frederik Andersen for the extra attacker. With a faceoff in the Boston end, coach Claude Julien called a timeout. When play resumed, the Ducks’ Corey Perry crashed the net and redirected a shot past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with 38.5 seconds remaining in the period to tie the game 2-2.
The building went silent.
In overtime, the Bruins killed off a penalty, and the fans began their chant. It reached a deafening level. Seconds later, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf beat Rask with a sniper-like shot from the high slot to give Anaheim the victory.
Again, the fans, the Bruins and their coach were stunned with the turn of events.
Afterward, Julien was not pleased the tying goal was allowed. He felt the officials should have called goaltender interference after Perry appeared to make contact with Rask just before the score.
“It’s really disappointing that goal was allowed,” Julien said. “There’s no doubt there’s goalie interference there, and that’s why they talk about reviewing those kinds of goals and coaches challenges because you can’t allow those kinds of goals. This is a big point we lost tonight on a missed call. Those are the things that are hard to swallow right now."
Rask said he didn’t know who collided with him on the equalizer, but he did not get the response he was hoping for when he asked the referee about the play.
“I asked the ref, and he said there was nothing there, so that’s what we go by,” Rask said. “I haven’t seen [the replay] yet, but somebody took my legs out.”
The Bruins have only eight games remaining in the regular season, and assistant captain Chris Kelly admitted he and his teammates were watching the out-of-town scores on the video board and knew the Rangers were beating up on the Senators.
These two points were crucial for the Bruins -- and they couldn’t hold on.
“We don’t play Ottawa again, so we can’t look at what they’re doing,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to focus on playing these eight games because if we don’t come ready to play for our eight games, it doesn’t matter what happens with Ottawa. We’ll be in a tough spot, regardless.”
With the loss, the Bruins are 8-4 in overtime this season. Julien was pleased with how his team responded after Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Thursday, the Bruins were seconds from beating the top team in the Western Conference. Instead, the Ducks answered and now have 101 points.
“We played hard,” Julien. “[Anaheim] is a team that scores a lot. [I] thought our checking game was good tonight. We checked well, as far as not giving them much, and we made it the kind of game we need to make it from here on in. We can’t keep giving up four or five goals a game. We’ve got to keep the puck out of our net, and if we do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance, and tonight, in my mind, it should have been a win.”
But it wasn’t.
“Terrible feeling, obviously,” Rask said. “We played a great game. We lost, and it’s a tough one to swallow -- again.”
Maybe Ottawa’s loss will bring the Senators (17-3-2 in their past 22 games) back down to earth for the final stretch. If that’s the case, maybe the Bruins can take advantage and win some games to separate themselves for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers, who clinched the season’s first playoff spot with their win over the Senators, did Boston a favor. The Bruins host the Rangers on Saturday, and Boston needs a better outcome because Ottawa is playing the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs.
Thursday’s loss hurts. Boston’s inability to earn more than just one point could eventually become its downfall if this team does not earn a postseason berth. The Bruins were pleased with their effort, but it wasn’t enough.
“At the end of the day, it’s a loss, right?” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “Overall, it was a pretty good checking game, a solid team effort, but it’s still a loss.”
BOSTON -- It’s been nearly a month since Brett Connolly arrived in Boston, and he’s inching closer to finally playing in a game for the Bruins.
The team acquired the 22-year-old forward from the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 2 in exchange for a pair of second-round draft picks in 2015 and 2016, but Connolly suffered a fractured right index finger during his second practice with Boston. He required surgery, and with only nine games remaining in the regular season for the Bruins, Connolly hopes to return soon.
“I hope so. I’m not too sure yet. My timetable, I know I’m getting closer and I’m expecting to be back for a few games before the [end] of the regular season, but we’ll see,” Connolly said.
Connolly participated in the team’s morning skate as the Bruins prepare to host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday at TD Garden.
“It was a good first step today,” he said. “It’s encouraging, obviously. It’s been three weeks, so we’re trying to transition into getting me on the ice and getting me in shape. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Connolly was Tampa’s first-round pick (No. 6 overall) in the 2010 draft, and the Bruins are expecting him to make an impact now and in the future.
Anaheim forward Nate Thompson spent five seasons with the Lightning and watched Connolly develop. Thompson, who also spent some time in the Bruins’ organization early in his career, compared Connolly to former Bruins forward P.J. Axlesson.
“He could be a P.J. Axelsson kind of guy with maybe more of an offensive upside. The Bruins really got a good deal. He’s a good player and a good guy and he’ll fit in well,” Thompson said. “He’s a top-10 pick with a lot of ability, but you can see he’s rounded out his game. He plays a complete game. He plays hard. He’s got a heck of a shot. He finishes his checks. He benefitted by the way Tampa brought him along, letting him develop. He’s going to be a really good NHL player for a long time.”
Krejci participated in the team’s morning skate at TD Garden and will skate in the warmup before a final decision is made.
“If I feel good enough to help the team, I’ll be in,” Krejci said.
He suffered a partially torn MCL in his left knee on Feb. 20 and has missed the last 15 games. Overall, Krejci has played only 38 games this season due to injury.
“I’m excited. It’s something new,” Krejci said. “I’m excited to play with Bergy and Marchy. It should be fun and I’m looking forward to it.”
Other than a few games at wing a few seasons ago, Krejci has been a centerman by trade his entire career.
“Probably a little less responsibility for now,” Julien said. “He’s only played half the season and we shouldn’t expect him to be our savior. Who knows how he’s going to react if he plays tonight, or how he’s going to be able to help us out. We don’t know that. When you’ve been out that long, the pace at this time of the year is pretty quick, and by putting him [at wing] probably takes a little pressure off him, as far as having to do all the dirty work down low. We’ll start him off there and see where it goes.”
Krejci has seven goals and 19 assists for 26 points this season.
UPDATE: Krejci did indeed play Thursday night, logging 19 minutes, 45 seconds of ice time and assisting on both Bruins' goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
PHILADELPHIA -- As they begin the final phase of the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks will search for a common element that has plagued them all season: consistency.
The Blackhawks, who entered the Wells Fargo Center here off a 3-1 victory Monday night in Carolina, missed a golden opportunity against the reeling Flyers, who had lost four consecutive games and whose playoff hopes were dimly lit since suffering a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on March 7.
On top of that, Flyers coach Craig Berube’s future also has recently come under fire, notably as the team spins out of playoff reach.
On Wednesday night against the Blackhawks, however, Philadelphia looked more like the team with playoff aspirations within reach as they dominated play in a 4-1 victory.
It had started out as a special night for Chicago defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who returned to the stage where he played with the Flyers since the 2007-08 season. Timonen was cheered in the pregame introductions, as well as during a video tribute during the opening period. He also received ovations during his early shifts.
On the other hand, the Blackhawks, still in the hunt for the Central Division, wasted an opportunity to gain ground on the second-place Nashville Predators and the first-place St. Louis Blues, who were both idle.
Chicago trails Nashville by four points and St. Louis by five with nine games left to play. It will take a maximum effort to get back to the postseason.
“We play better lately when we have a lead lately,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who had the lone Blackhawks goal. “We obviously have to do better than we did tonight. First and foremost, we have to be operating on all cylinders.
“Tonight wasn’t the effort we expect. We know we have to tighten things. We can still make a run at the division. In our last game, we were able to get out early. Tonight, we couldn’t get going.”
Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds scored his team-high 28th goal of the season and broke a scoreless tie when the Blackhawks had trouble clearing the zone. He took a cross-ice pass from Matt Read and beat Corey Crawford to the stick side at 7:30 of the opening period.
The Flyers made it 2-0 when Ryan White redirected Carlo Colaiacovo’s slapper from the point past Crawford’s stick side at 6:09 of the second period. Philadelphia added its second goal of the third period when Claude Giroux tapped Jakub Voracek’s shot from the right faceoff circle past Crawford at 13:58 to make it 3-0.
Andrew Shaw got the Blackhawks on the board when he scored his 13th of the season tapped in Duncan Keith’s slapper from the top of the slot past Steve Mason’s stick side on the power play at 2:24 of the final period. Chicago scored just 14 seconds into the penalty.
Philadelphia sealed the contest when Michael Raffl fired a wrist shot between Crawford’s legs on the power play that made it 4-1 at 15:55.
Chicago did outshoot the Flyers 34-33. On Monday night, they were outshot 44-24 in a victory.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quennville lately has been juggling his lineup in an effort to add some scoring punch. Left wing Bryan Bickell and defenseman Teuvo Teravainen against the Flyers were healthy scratches and were replaced by Andrew Desjardins and Daniel Carcillo.
The Blackhawks have scored five goals in their past four games after scoring 12 during the previous three games. Chicago will continue to look for scoring options to replace injured Patrick Kane, who has a team-high 64 points and has missed the past 12 games with a fractured clavicle.
“We’re looking for some energy,” Quennville said. “We’re just trying to put the best lineup out there, that’s all. There isn’t anything else to it. We missed an opportunity tonight. We gave up a couple of goals that hurt us.
“We need consistent scoring options right now. A team like Philadelphia tonight was a dangerous team. They were struggling and came right at us. We need to focus on what we can do well over the next few weeks.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is disappointed with recent results.
"Our last few efforts haven’t been good enough,” Toews said. “Goaltenders are keeping us alive, and it could’ve been worse than it was tonight. It has been a tough stretch. We haven’t played well on this road trip. As a group, we’ll figure out what’s going on and what we have to do better.
“We have to do to get everyone firing and all four lines engaged, get that energy and enthusiasm back, like we did before this road trip. Once we figure that out, just take it one game at a time and get back to how we were playing before that.”
Timonen, 40, who joined the club a month ago and has contributed sparingly, was moved by his former fans’ support.
“I had some good memories tonight in this building,” he said. “It was cool, and the fans have always been great. But it was hard for us tonight, and we have to work to chance that soon.”
The July 1 unrestricted free agent player pool this year leaves you quite cold, but luckily there should be action behind the bench that livens up the NHL offseason like rarely before.
This has the potential to be, quite frankly, one of the most intriguing and dramatic offseasons in the NHL coaching world in quite some time.
Let’s take a tour, shall we?
The San Jose Sharks will very likely miss the postseason for the first time since 2002-03. Todd McLellan has been head coach for seven seasons and the question is whether he pays the price for the team’s decline, even though the club is undergoing a very public, rebuild-on-the-fly transition. He’s got one more season left on his deal.
If McLellan is fired, he’d be a hot commodity on the open market. My sense is the Toronto Maple Leafs are among the teams that like him a lot. But the list would not be short in that regard. This guy is one of the very best coaches in the league. He’s a great hire if he indeed becomes free.
McLellan went to San Jose from Detroit in June 2008 after helping Mike Babcock coach the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup that spring. Babcock’s future, of course, looms large over the entire off-season coaching carousel. The game’s biggest pending UFA coach plans to decide after the season what he’s going to do -- re-sign with the Detroit Red Wings or hit the market for a bigger payday.
The question is whether Babcock has seen enough of the impressive next-generation core of the Red Wings this season to convince him to stay, albeit for less money than what he could make in a place like Toronto. Or Philadelphia? Or Buffalo? Or elsewhere?
The Wings will make a very good offer. His decision, either way, will have a domino effect.
The Boston Bruins are sitting out of a playoff spot as I write this and that can’t be good for head coach Claude Julien, at least if you go by the veiled hints made this season by the owner’s son Charlie Jacobs and team president Cam Neely. It seems crazy to me that Julien, one of the game’s most respected coaches and the guy who guided the Bruins to 2011 glory, could be fired. But that’s the feeling you get from the vibes coming out of Boston. And if he hits the market, holy moly, that’s another huge fish.
Media in Philadelphia over the past few days have deliberated over Craig Berube’s future as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers and have speculated that he might be in danger of being fired. General manager Ron Hextall, after all, hasn’t had the chance to hire his own coach yet. The Flyers’ job would be a plum opening for sure, the kind of big-market job most coaches salivate over.
Which brings us to Toronto, of course, where the Maple Leafs will need a new head coach. Whether it’s Babcock or McLellan or whomever, it’s doubtful it won’t be a marquee name. But the next Leafs coach also will know when he signs on the dotted line that there’s a long-term rebuild that he’s going to have to weather.
Does Dave Tippett stay with the Arizona Coyotes? He’s under contract for three more seasons and loves the Phoenix area where he’s built a home, but I don’t think he’s interested in a long, long rebuild. He needs to know that the plan is to win sooner rather than later. At least that’s my sense. If he somehow became free, he’d be in high demand. But perhaps he stays put.
It’s long been rumored that Ted Nolan could be fired at season’s end by the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres as GM Tim Murray gets to hire his first coach. There have been rumors about whether Murray likes Luke Richardson as his next guy given his former ties to the Ottawa Senators organization. But who knows if Richardson even wants to leave his AHL gig. He's said to be very happy there.
But you also have to ask yourself after seeing Sabres owner Terry Pegula shell out big bucks to lure Rex Ryan to coach his football team whether the Sabres wouldn’t want to take a similar approach with the hockey team’s coaching position -- Babcock, for example. Keep in mind that Murray had a hand in giving Babcock his first NHL coaching job in Anaheim way back.
Will the Edmonton Oilers keep interim coach Todd Nelson on board? The team has responded well to him, the players seem to like him, the power play is better and heck, Nail Yakupov is better under him. Rival scouts say the Oilers have better structure under Nelson. But can the Oilers really afford to name a first-time head coach for the third time in a row after Dallas Eakins and Ralph Krueger?
Mind you, they should have never fired Krueger. Krueger is a good coach and he was on to something with that young Oilers team.
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has to figure out his bench, too, as in not standing behind it next season and deciding either between co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens or looking elsewhere. Reached Wednesday, Lamoriello simply told ESPN.com he would make a coaching decision after the season.
First-round playoff exits could also prove costly, as they often do. I can’t imagine Bruce Boudreau can afford to lose early with the Anaheim Ducks and there are some who wonder what happens if Ken Hitchcock doesn’t get the St. Louis Blues out of the first round. (As an aside, how good a fit would Hitchcock be in his native Edmonton to teach the Oilers?)
Boudreau and Hitchcock would potentially be two other big names on the market, although I hope they have long playoff runs and they stay in place instead.
Let’s not forget that there are free agents already out there, the likes of Peter DeBoer, Dan Bylsma, Randy Carlyle, Paul MacLean, Ron Wilson, John Tortorella et al.
And another wild-card to all this: Who gets Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel? The draft lottery in April could have a big impact on how certain coaching jobs look to candidates. So in many ways, perhaps the draft lottery is the biggest domino factor of all.
Buckle up, this is shaping up to be the summer of the coach.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins can say all they want about their chances of earning a postseason berth, but their lip service is getting quite boring in light of their recent five-game losing skid.
It’s painful to hear the players say "we need to find ways to win" or “we believe in ourselves” or “we have the team to accomplish our goal.” Well, blah, blah, blah.
On the ice, the Bruins have lost their sense of urgency, physicality and emotion. In fact, this team seems to have lost its faith in itself. On Monday, the Ottawa Senators gained control of the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and pushed the Bruins to the outside.
Ottawa leads the Bruins by only one point, but with the way each team is playing, it seems like the Senators have a much wider margin in the standings. Ottawa is 17-2-2 in its last 21 games, and while the hockey world enjoys this incredible run by the Senators, fans in Boston are trying to make sense of what has happened to the Bruins this season.
Boston has nine games remaining in the regular season and that may not be enough time to fix yet another funk. After the team’s practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, all the players were answering questions with the standard company lines. But when coach Claude Julien was asked whether this team has the character to reverse its current trend and still earn a playoff spot, he gave an honest answer: “The next nine games will show that.”
There's no doubt that if the Bruins can somehow dig deep and earn a playoff spot, then they will be a dangerous opponent. The problem is that this team has shown only glimpses of that ability all season. Boston’s inconsistent play in every aspect of the game has been tough to watch. Goaltender Tuukka Rask said those inconsistencies have been the team’s Achilles heel all season.
“This is the final time to figure it out,” he said.
Perhaps it is too late for this team to regain its motivation. It hasn't given fans any reason to believe otherwise.
After a 42-minute practice Tuesday, the Bruins answered questions about their recent skid and about their confidence in their ability to earn that postseason berth.
So, begin the lip service in 3, 2, 1...
“Yeah, I do,” Rask said. “As we’ve talked about all year long, we know we can play against anybody in this league when we play our game. It is a mystery that we can’t seem to figure that out, but it’s about time to figure it out and start playing our game and believing in it.”
Added forward Milan Lucic: "I definitely believe. You have to believe at this point. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You can’t dwell on the situation that we’ve put ourselves in. You have to try to get into that positive mindset, that competitive mindset that’s going to get you over that edge, and I truly believe this group has it within itself to get ourselves in that playoff spot.”
If the Bruins fail to reach the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, changes to their roster will undoubtedly be made during the offseason. The players understand that and they believe it won’t be an issue.
“Oh, yeah we can, definitely,” said defenseman Torey Krug when asked if this team still has enough left to reach the playoffs. “We’ve just got to make sure we’re doing the right things. That commitment level hasn’t been there consistently, and if we bring that back and start playing the way we know we’re capable of then we can start winning some games.”
Boston’s schedule isn’t an easy one, either. This final stretch begins when the Bruins host the Anaheim Ducks Thursday at TD Garden. Also remaining on the schedule are the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers (two games), Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.
We’re past the point of 'put up or shut up.'
“We’ve talked enough. It’s time to go out there and play," said Rask. "When you’re living in the most crucial time of the year and you say, ‘Just go out there and play’ it’s easier said than done. It takes a lot of mental strength and that’s what we need.”
Right now, the Bruins have their heads somewhere else and they need to pull it together, show some character and finish strong. Maybe having three days off between games will help. It better, because time's running out.
Bruins coach Claude Julien would not discuss the nature of the injury after Tuesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena.
Hamilton was hurt during the second period of Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers. He attempted to return, playing only one brief shift before he was shut down for the remainder of the game. He will be evaluated again in the next few days, according to Julien.
Losing Hamilton's services in the midst of a five-game losing skid, while the team is fighting for a playoff spot, does not bode well for the Bruins. Until his injury, Hamilton had played in all 72 games this season, recording 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points. He also had a minus-3 rating.
- New York Rangers: The Bluehsirts upgraded on defense at the trade deadline and have seen backup goaltender Cam Talbot shine in Henrik Lundqvist’s absence, but the most significant development as of late is the team’s offensive outburst against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. The Rangers tallied a season high in goals in a 7-2 rout against the Ducks, with Derek Stepan and Keith Yandle chipping in with three points each. New York heads into this week’s action on top of the league standings with 99 points and 11 games remaining.
- Ottawa Senators: Those pesky Senators are making a thrilling run for the playoffs, rolling into the final weeks of the regular season. While other bubble teams like the Boston Bruins have stumbled, the Sens have surged as they look to pull off one of the most stunning pushes in recent memory. With a 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Sens recorded their sixth consecutive victory to pull within one point of the Bruins for the last wild-card spot in the East. Meanwhile, rookie goalie Andrew Hammond improved to 13-0-1 as a starter. What a story this team has become.
- Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: Price’s spectacular season continued as the star netminder reached another significant milestone over the weekend. In shutting out the San Jose Sharks 2-0 -- his second straight shutout -- Price recorded his 40th win of the season, joining elite company in doing so. Only two other Habs goalies (Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden) have recorded 40 wins in a season, and at this point the Hart Trophy is Price's to lose.
- Tampa Bay Lightning offense: The Lightning have scored 12 goals in their past three games and carry momentum into this week’s action. Most recently, the Bolts chased Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask by scoring four goals on 12 shots in the team’s 5-3 win on Sunday. The victory snapped the Bolts’ 10-game winless streak against Boston.
- Boston Bruins: With the Sens nipping at their heels, the Bruins seem rattled. Having dropped five straight, Boston has left the door wide open in the battle for the last wild-card spot in the East as pressure mounts on both coach Claude Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli. A playoff miss could bring sweeping changes in Boston, as team exec Charlie Jacobs indicated earlier this season.
- Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers chose to hold a players-only, closed-door meeting after their 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday, with several players lamenting the team’s lack of competitiveness. Philly followed up that lackluster effort with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. It was the team’s ninth consecutive road loss.
- Lundqvist nearing return: The much-anticipated return of Henrik Lundqvist is drawing near as the Rangers enter the last 11 games on the 2014-15 slate. With limited practice time remaining, and a few scheduling detours (Lundqvist missed some time recently to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's second child), speculation is rampant about when he will play for the first time since being diagnosed with a frightening vascular injury that has sidelined him since early February. Lundqvist said he is not going to “force” the issue, especially considering the way the team is playing right now, but you can bet The King is chomping at the bit to get back between the pipes.
- Isles getting healthier: Elsewhere in the Metropolitan Division, the New York Islanders returned a few key players to their ranks over the weekend. Both goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Nick Leddy returned to the lineup for the team’s 3-0 win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
What to watch for
- Rest and regroup: The Bruins have until Thursday to marinate on their situation, and they have a daunting task ahead with two of the league’s top teams coming to town. Boston hosts the Ducks on Thursday, followed by Saturday’s match against the Rangers. Points are absolutely critical with the Senators hell-bent on elbowing Boston out of contention.
- Monday match: Speaking of the Senators, Ottawa has a prime opportunity to grab two points against a reeling San Jose Sharks squad that's in the middle of a seven-game road trip. Dave Cameron’s crew hosts the Sharks for Monday’s tilt, and a win would move them into the top eight in what is becoming a captivating sprint to the finish line in the Eastern Conference.
- Hitting the road: Don’t forget about the Florida Panthers, either. The Cats are just four points behind the Bruins and three behind the Senators, and they have won two straight. Florida faces a five-game road trip before closing out the season with five straight games at home. Keep in mind that the Panthers play the Bruins twice during that span.
TAMPA, Fla. -- J.T. Brown and Anton Stralman scored 15 seconds apart soon after Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos got into a fight, and the Lightning stopped a 10-game losing streak against the Boston Bruins with a 5-3 victory Sunday.
Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Daniel Paille scored for the Bruins, who are 0-3-2 over their last five games and hold a one-point lead over Ottawa for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Senators have played two fewer games.
The Lightning trail Atlantic Division-leading Montreal by two points.
Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton suffered an undisclosed injury during the second period of Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers. He attempted to return, playing only one brief shift before he was shut down for the remainder of the game.
The Bruins face the Lightning on Sunday at Tampa Bay (5 p.m.) and needed Trotman on an emergency basis. He previously was recalled on March 13 but did not play against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Overall, he’s played 17 games with the Bruins this season.
The 24-year-old defenseman has played 38 games for the P-Bruins this season, posting two goals and 10 assists for 14 points.
With Hamilton’s status in question, his absence will leave a void on Boston’s blue line. He and Zdeno Chara have been the Bruins’ top defensive pair this season, and with the Bruins fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, if Hamilton is sidelined for an extended period of time it could hurt Boston’s chances.