Monthly Archives: October 2017

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The Bruins were searching at the end of the first period. Down by two goals, Boston was just trying to get to intermission and regroup.

But the final shift of the opening frame seemed like it would never end. Columbus was bullying the Bruins as the Blue Jackets landed five heavy hits in the last 30 seconds of the period. Boston finally escaped, having put just four shots on goal, and retreated to the dressing room where head coach Bruce Cassidy delivered a stern message to his club: their start was unacceptable.

“We deserved it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Sometimes you need that ugly truth, I guess. Every second of the first period we didn’t like. We didn’t compete, we didn’t play well.”

Knowing that the team needed a spark, Zdeno Chara wasted little time showing Cassidy – and his teammates – that the message was received. The captain dropped the gloves with Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson just 40 seconds into the middle period and set the tone for the remainder of the night.

Boston went on to allow another goal midway through the second and fell into a three-goal hole, but the momentum had clearly shifted. The Bruins erased the deficit and were able to grab a point in what eventually turned into a 4-3 shootout loss – courtesy of Oliver Bjorkstrom’s winner in the third round – on Monday night at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s a huge boost,” Torey Krug said of Chara’s scrap. “He’s a guy that plays a lot of minutes for us and has a lot of other things to worry about than dropping the gloves…he stepped up and he did just that. Guys started playing. I know they got one…but I think our guys responded regardless.”

The Bruins were pleased with their ability to overcome the deficit and steal away a point, but felt two points was easily within their grasp had they come out with a better start.

“You just can’t have those starts,” said Cassidy. “We need better. We put ourselves in a bad spot and we fought our way out of it, so that’s the positive. I don’t like to see us start like that. I take a lot of pride in being ready to go and I thought we weren’t as a group.

“But we corrected it, gave ourselves a chance to get two points, just didn’t work out in the shootout.”

Boston began to chip away at the 3-0 hole when Patrice Bergeron delivered with a power-play tally late in the second. After drilling the post with a slapper, Torey Krug collected the rebound and found David Pastrnak behind the net. Pastrnak (three assists) sent it to Danton Heinen, who delivered a feed to Bergeron at the top of the right circle. Bergeron finished it off by slamming a one-timer by Sergei Bobrovsky with 4:23 remaining in the period to cut the deficit to 3-1.

The Bruins got within a goal at the 10:26 marker of the third on Torey Krug’s second goal of the season. Kevan Miller trickled down into the corner and zipped a pass through the slot to Krug, who was charging to the post. Krug then ripped one by the glove of Bobrovsky to make it 3-2.

Boston tied the game just 1:21 later with its second power-play marker of the night. Krug collected the puck behind the Bruins net and dropped the puck off to Pastrnak, who soared through the neutral zone and left a pass for Bergeron just inside the Columbus blue line.

Bergeron found a wide-open Marchand in the slot, where the winger fired a wrister glove-side for his 200th career goal. It was a strong display of puck movement from the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak trio, which had been reunited earlier in the night.

“We know how to play with each other, we have chemistry, it’s always been there,” said Bergeron. “Right away, I could see it was still there form the first shift on. We created some good things on the power play, too, and carried that over to 5-on-5 play.

“I go back to what we didn’t do in the first, same thing for our line. We competed harder and got pucks back and good things happen when you do that.”

The Bruins, however, did not have much luck in the shootout. Kenny Agostino and Marchand were blanked in the first two rounds, but goals from Artemi Panarin and Bjorkstrand secured the victory for Columbus.

“We have a lot of character in our dressing room, so you realize that it wasn’t the way we want to play and you get [angry] at yourself and start playing better,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 29 saves. “We found a way to battle back and get a point. It’s a big point.”

Miller Steps Up

The Bruins also received quite the boost from Miller late in the third period. Following a heavy hit on Krug by Bjorkstrand in the corner, Miller took exception and dropped the gloves with just over five minutes to go in regulation.

Bjorkstrand was handed a five-minute major for boarding, while Miller received a two-minute instigator, a five-minute major for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct, and a game misconduct. But Miller’s teammates were hardly disappointed.

“We need that, we need to show that we’re a team, that we’re a family in here,” said Marchand. “That carries onto the ice. Guys did a great job of standing up for each other.”

“It’s part of Kevan Miller what he does,” added Cassidy. “He’s got to stick up for his teammates. It’s difficult to get upset with him even though we could have been on a five-minute power play. Over the course of the season, that’s what brings teams together.”

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There is no denying the sour taste that was left in the Bruins’ mouths following Saturday night’s last-second overtime loss to Los Angeles.

Tyler Toffoli’s miracle winner as time expired put a damper on an otherwise strong effort from the Bruins, which earned them a point and extended their points streak to four games (2-0-2). The stretch has been an encouraging one for Boston, considering the injuries that have left the B’s roster in a constant state of flux for much of the first three weeks.

“To get three out of four points is a positive,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, referring to the last two games against San Jose and L.A. “You always want four, you’re at home. But it could have gone either way…those things happen. We’re pleased, but certainly not content, if that makes sense.”

The Bruins gathered at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday morning for a film session rather than a full on-ice practice, allowing Cassidy to highlight some of the positive things his team has been doing of late, particularly in the defensive end.

“We’re getting better every day as a team,” said David Pastrnak. “I think we had a strong game [Saturday] against a heavy team. It’s always tough to play against a West team, but I think we’ve gotten a lot better in the last couple weeks.”

While Cassidy has been pleased with the way the Bruins have improved defensively since the season’s first few games, he has seen a dip in their offensive production. Boston has scored just three goals over the past two games as it adjusts to being without David Krejci, who has missed three straight contests with an upper-body injury.

“We want to get back to our identity of being hard to play against and still have our offense,” said Cassidy. “We’re getting some of that identity offensively and make sure we don’t lose our ability to score goals.”

Opposing View

The Blue Jackets are off to a good start with a 7-4-0 record, which places them third in the Metropolitan Division (14 points), two points shy of first-place New Jersey. Columbus fell, 4-1, to St. Louis on Saturday night.

Artemi Panarin, acquired from Chicago during the offseason, paces Columbus with 10 points (goal, nine assists), while Sonny Milano leads the way with five goals. Young blue liner Seth Jones is second on the team with eight points and headlines a strong defensive corps that also includes Jack Johnson and Zach Werenski.

“They’ve got a D corps that gets up the ice,” said Cassidy. “They’re gonna attack in waves, they do a good job with that. They’re good around the net, get to the net and get second chances. For us, to have success there we’ve got to get on top of their D and get behind them, play in their end.

“Being patient with [the puck], I think that’s the formula with a team against Columbus that has a good D corps but wants to break up plays and gets going.”

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is 6-2-0 with a 1.86 goals against average (fourth in the NHL) and .940 save percentage (sixth).

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Frank Vatrano has always been a goal scorer. His elite shot has been the bane of many a goalies’ existence at every level.

In his last 38 games in the American Hockey League, Vatrano has 38 goals. Vatrano scored in his first career NHL game and potted a hat trick against the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins as a rookie.

Goals, however, have not been as easy to come by of late. Vatrano is without a point in seven games this season and has found himself playing a bottom-six role.

But there are signs that Vatrano’s game is rounding into form. The 23-year-old native of East Longmeadow has fired six shots on goal over the past two games – including a team-high four against San Jose on Thursday – after landing just four shots over his first five games.

“When I move my feet like I did last night, I created turnovers and chances for my teammates,” said Vatrano, who came close to beating Sharks goalie Martin Jones on more than one occasion. “And in the D-zone you have more confidence to make the extra play instead of hammering it up the glass or whatever. I felt confidence yesterday and I thought my game was good.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has seen a noticeable uptick in Vatrano’s energy on the puck and has been encouraged by the recent play of the UMass product.

“He’s got good straight-line speed, he’s using it more effectively now to create loose pucks situations,” said Cassidy, who has positioned Vatrano alongside Kenny Agostino and Riley Nash. “He’s hanging on to it longer in the offensive zone, and as a result some pucks are finding him, just because it’s on our sticks a little more, him and his line mates. He’s been pretty good in terms of not hurting us away from the puck.

“He’s trying to be more of a student of the game, which we’ve asked him to do. If he’s not gonna see a lot of special teams time, he’s got to stay in it and keep his energy level up. That’s not easy for a young guy, so I give him credit.”

Vatrano’s improved play has led to him gaining more confidence from the coaching staff and, in turn, more ice time.

“I think I’ve been doing a good job in earning trust with [Cassidy] and more and more shifts,” said Vatrano. “The more shifts I get, the more confident I get. I’m feeling the puck more, making the plays that I’m used to making. I think I just gotta go out there and not think…just play the game I know how to play.”

At the same time, Vatrano has tried to expand his game given his current position. While offense is still expected, Vatrano must also provide energy and a strong all-around game when playing in less of a skilled role.

“I’m trying to, not reevaluate my game or recreate, but since I haven’t been scoring, kind of playing in a shutdown, fourth-line energy role,” said Vatrano. “I’ve been focusing on that and that’s when the goals come. I’ve always put up points and scored goals. For me, obviously defensively is where I had to be a little bit better.”

Khudobin Rebounds

After a game in which the Bruins surrendered two three-goal leads, Boston made sure to tighten things up defensively against the Sharks. Leading the charge was Anton Khudobin, who picked up his third win of the year while making 36 saves. It was likely Khudobin’s last start before the return of Tuukka Rask, who Cassidy expects to be back between the pipes on Saturday night.

“Very good, very good,” Cassidy said of Khudobin’s performance. “Dobby is always going to have a bit of energy, for lack of a better word, in there and [more] movement than most, but I thought he was very composed and under control for his game. Puck play was solid, very focused, seemed like he was taking care of the little details in terms of positioning.

“He’s not your typical technically robotic goaltender, but I thought it was a very good bounce-back game. Got us points again, every start he’s had his points.”

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Tuukka Rask’s return is creeping closer.

The ace netminder has been medically cleared following his concussion and will be Anton Khudobin’s backup on Thursday night when the Bruins host the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden.

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to give Rask an extra day of practice before getting him back between the pipes on Saturday night against Los Angeles.

“We’re all in agreement, training staff, coach, player himself, that another practice tomorrow will be the best preparation for him to go in Saturday,” Cassidy said following Thursday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena.

Rask took part in the optional pregame skate and tried to replicate his normal game-day routine as best as possible.

“It gives me a couple extra days of work,” said Rask. “I’m gonna prepare like I’m playing tonight to get into the normal routine again. Practice tomorrow and get ready for Saturday.

“We’ve got three big games coming up so you figured Dobby’s gonna play one of those anyways. I think it’s fair that I get a couple extra days of work and I’ll be more ready on Saturday.”

With his symptoms subsided, Rask said his focus is now on conditioning.

“I felt good. No symptoms whatsoever,” said Rask. “When you don’t skate for four or five days it doesn’t matter if you skate for five days or a month you have to get back in shape.”

Cassidy also said defenseman Kevan Miller “looks good, so he should play” against the Sharks, but will remain a game-time decision.

Heinen Recalled

After a strong weekend in Providence, during which he had a goal and five assists, Danton Heinen was recalled from the P-Bruins on Thursday morning and could be in the lineup. Heinen also has three assists in three games with Boston this season.

“He played well when he was here,” said Cassidy. “We’re not definitive on the forward group tonight, I will say that. We’ll make a decision tonight. But we liked what Danton brought. He went down to Providence, had a really good weekend, worked on his game, played well and now he’s back.”

Seeing Sharks

Rookie Charlie McAvoy will get his first look at the Sharks, a team he says he has the utmost respect for.

“They’re a great team. They have some players that are the best in the league, who I’ve been watching for a while,” said McAvoy. “They made the Cup [Final] a couple years ago, they still have a lot of those guys. They’re a great team and they should be respected.

“But we’re confident in here that we can go out and put our best foot forward. We expect to get 2 points every night.”

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David Backes is no stranger to playing center in the National Hockey League.

The 33-year-old manned the middle of the ice for 10 seasons (2006-16) with the St. Louis Blues – not to mention his tours of duty with Team USA at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. So with center David Krejci (upper body) expected to miss this weekend’s games – and potentially more – Head Coach Bruce Cassidy is turning to Backes to fill the void left by No. 46′s absence.

“You play center for so long, I don’t think it ever really escapes you,” Backes said following Wednesday’s practice.

 

“It’s just getting back into the flow of things and trying to stay off the wall and stay out of other peoples’ positions and support pucks, talk it out and be the other guys’ eyes so the plays get made. We’ve got a couple holes with injuries and we’re going to try to plug one with myself moving up a little bit and playing a different position, but that’s what this league is all about – you’re going to have injuries and you’re going to have other places where you need help and you need guys to step up. This is an opportunity for me to do so.”

Since arriving in Boston, Backes has embraced his role as a physical presence on the ice and a leader off the ice. Now presented with an opportunity to move up the lineup, the Minnesota native is excited to take on additional responsibilities.

“There’s something to be said about leading a line and taking control,” Backes said about his return to the center position.

“You’re kind of the director of the orchestra as you got your plays being made around you. You’ve got to support at times, you’ve got to push the pace at times and be defensively responsible and play a full 200-foot game. There’s a lot of pride to be taken in that and helping your team win doing the ugly things.”

As the lineup shuffling continues due to mounting injuries, Cassidy is tasked with finding wingers that mesh with Backes’ physical brand of hockey.

“I think David for the most part wants a line that fits his character, how he plays the game … straight lines, cycles, get it behind their D, possess it, wear them down,” said Cassidy. “Get your chances more on abrasiveness than finesse.”

During Wednesday’s practice, Cassidy deployed 21-year-olds Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak on Backes’ wings in a move that aims to add speed and skill to Backes’ size and strength.

“I feel like they have extra peps in their step and hopefully I can put pucks far enough in front of them to keep them going and to score more goals,” said Backes of playing between the young forwards. “Pasta has the ability. JD has the wheels and the finish and just needs more repetition and more opportunities. When pucks start to fall for him it’s going to be another dangerous weapon to have.”

After fielding several questions about playing alongside two forwards more than a decade younger than him, Backes took some time to reflect on his new status as an “old guy.”

“It’s funny how quickly the shoe goes on the other foot in this league,” remarked Backes.

“It feels like yesterday I was coming in as a 22-year-old kid wondering how all these old guys were still doing it, and wondering if I’d ever be that old guy … I had them over for dinner and they’re wondering what the heck is going on when I’ve got kids running around and dogs and a house to take care of and they’re worried about what Xbox game is coming out next.”

Krejci Week-To-Week

David Krejci, who was previously deemed “day-to-day” with an upper-body injury, was downgraded to “week-to-week” by Head Coach Bruce Cassidy on Wednesday in his post-practice press conference. The Czech centerman will not play in either of the next two home games against the Sharks and Kings, and will be reevaluated after this weekend.

Miller Cleared For Contact

Defenseman Kevan Miller tossed aside the burgundy non-contact jersey that he’s donned the last two days of practice and traded it in for a classic black practice sweater Wednesday morning. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound blueliner is “progressing well” according to Cassidy and appears ready to suit up for Thursday’s game barring any setbacks.

“It feels good,” Miller told reporters following Wednesday’s skate. “It’s been a few days of progress now, so I think this is one day closer to being ready for tomorrow.”

Known primarily for his grit and toughness, the Los Angeles native has put his versatility on display this season, as injuries have required him to play both the left and right side, as well as with different defense partners on a nightly basis. Despite the lack of continuity, Miller has proven to be a stabilizing, physical force on the Bruins back end, as he leads the team with 21 hits and 11 blocked shots.

“At this point I’ve played with pretty much everybody,” said Miller. “We all know each others’ tendencies out there and I’m looking forward to just hopefully getting the opportunity to play.”

Tuukka Time

Goaltender Tuukka Rask was a full participant in practice for the second consecutive day, and Cassidy told reporters that things are looking “positive” for the B’s netminder’s availability for Thursday’s game against the Sharks.

“Tuukka is continuing in the protocol and doing well so tomorrow morning he’ll get looked at,” said Cassidy. “If it’s all systems go then we’ll know tomorrow whether he gets cleared.”

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Tuukka Rask did not have much of a choice. It was only practice, but the decision between leaving himself vulnerable to injury or vulnerable to allowing a goal was the same as it would have been in the middle of a game.

He was standing his ground.

Unfortunately for the Bruins ace netminder, the decision was costly.

During last Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Rask was on the wrong end of a high-speed collision with Anders Bjork in the crease. Rask got up wobbly and needed assistance while retreating to the dressing room and was later diagnosed with a concussion. The backstop missed the Bruins last two games as he proceeded through the NHL’s concussion protocols.

“That’s a tough play because the guy’s driving and you have to respect the shot short-side so you’re holding your ground,” said Rask. “He was pushed in, so it’s just a tough play…you’re either exposing yourself to get scored on or you’re exposing yourself to possibly get hit.”

Rask escaped any major damage, however, and returned to practice on Tuesday in a limited fashion. If all goes according to plan, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said it is a “possibility” that Rask could be back between the pipes on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden.

“It’s been a good few days,” said Rask, who has not had any prior diagnosed concussions. “Skated [Monday] a little bit, today ramped it up a little more. [I'll] go through the concussion computer test and get cleared and we’ll talk tomorrow.

“If I feel good I’m gonna go out there. Why not, right? I just gotta pass that test. Hopefully my baseline wasn’t too high.”

During Tuesday’s practice, Rask appeared to be moving well in the crease and reported no ill effects from the session, though he did sit out some of the more high-intensity battle drills towards the end of the session.

“No, not really,” Rask said when asked if he practiced with any hesitations. “They didn’t want me to do contact, whatever that means for a goalie. I stayed out of the last couple drills. But I didn’t feel hesitant. I can’t go out there and try to be too careful.

“The drills that we did were set up in a way that it was only shots. The chances of being run down are slim. [Wednesday] will be full tilt.”

Rask said he battled through minor headaches, sensitivity to light, and some body-clock issues during the first few days after the collision, but was fortunate to not have any lingering symptoms.

“Luckily I didn’t lose consciousness or anything,” said Rask. “That helps and the doctors say, generally, if you haven’t had too many of those [concussions] you bounce back quickly. If it happens at an older age you tend to bounce back quicker.

“First two days it was a little foggy, but turned the corner pretty quickly. The whole protocol thing with the league you have to be careful that you don’t come back too early.”

Those concussion protocols have been thrust into the spotlight over the last 24 hours after Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick was removed from Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs following a collision. One of the NHL’s concussion spotters deemed it necessary for Quick to exit the game, but Quick never went through the protocol and returned to the game moments later.

“It’s a fine line. The spotters, if they see something and they pull you out there’s nothing you can do,” said Rask. “You can be fine, but it doesn’t help if you tell them you’re fine and they still pull you out. It’s a tough situation. The rules are the rules. We just have to go by them.”

The situation for position players is far less intrusive. Even if the player is unnecessarily removed from the game, there are plenty of others to take his spot. If a goaltender is forced to leave, the backup is suddenly thrust into the game with little preparation.

“It’s tough. LA went through it…clearly that’s one that you hope they accelerate if the guy recovers quickly,” said Cassidy. “It’s a position where the other guy is coming in so cold – if it happens to one of your players…that’s a tough one. I guess it’s a work in progress.”

Despite the complexities of the rules, Rask expressed his support for the importance the league has placed on preventing and recognizing head injuries.

“I like it. A lot of times you feel fine and you got out there and get a second hit and you take two steps back,” said Rask. “Worst case you could ruin the rest of your life. It’s good that they’re being careful. Even though I felt fine a couple days after, there’s no reason to rush it. You’ve got to think about life outside hockey.”

Injury Notes

  • Kevan Miller (upper-body) practiced for the second consecutive day in a red non-contact jersey and could make a return to the lineup on Thursday against the Sharks.”He’s progressing well. He’s going in a good direction,” said Cassidy. “I’ve been wrong up here a few times with these, but he looks good for Thursday…but it’s day-to-day.”
  • David Krejci (upper-body) missed his second consecutive practice and was set to be re-evaluated on Tuesday afternoon. “He’s day-to-day as well. Getting re-evaluated today…a little more discomfort, so we’ll have a better idea on him tomorrow,” said Cassidy. “But obviously didn’t practice, but a little better measuring stick for Thursday.”

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Danton Heinen and Jordan Szwarz helped carry the Providence Bruins to a perfect 3-0 weekend, combining for six goals and seven assists. Szwarz also notched the shootout winner in the P-Bruins’ 3-2 victory over Belleville on Saturday night.

Heinen, who was assigned to Providence early last week after registering three assists in three games with Boston, and Szwarz are tied for the P-Bruins team lead with eight points apiece.

During Friday’s 5-2 victory over Springfield, Szwarz and Austin Czarnik tallied two goals each, while Heinen notched a goal and three assists.

Szwarz was back at it on Saturday against Belleville, as he and Peter Cehlarik scored third-period goals to tie the game, 2-2. Szwarz then sealed a 3-2 win with his shootout tally. Daniel Vladar made 25 saves on 27 shots in his first game of the season.

Providence closed out its impressive weekend on Sunday with a 4-1 win over Laval. Swarz added two more goals, while Anton Blidh potted his first two goals of the season. Heinen and Czarnik had two assists each, while Zane McIntyre stopped 29 of 30 shots.

Providence is now 5-1-0 and sits in second place in the Atlantic Division, 1 point behind Lehigh Valley.

Wisconsin Wonders

Trent Frederic and Cameron Hughes of the Wisconsin Badgers are leading all Bruins NCAA prospects in scoring. The Badgers squad is ranked No. 5 in the nation, and 2016 first-round pick (29th overall) Frederic leads them in goals and points (4-4-8). The sophomore standout recorded two goals and two assists over the weekend, as the Badgers split a pair of games with Northern Michigan.

Forward Cameron Hughes, a sixth-round pick (165th overall) in 2015, notched a goal and two assists in the Badgers’ 4-0 win on Saturday. The senior serves as Wisconsin’s captain, and is tied for fourth on the team with 5 points this season.

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The fight for the first hat trick was on and everything was looking just fine.

Entering the third period, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had two goals apiece. And with the Bruins holding on to a two-goal lead over the Buffalo Sabres, they were searching for some insurance and their second consecutive victory.

But the hat tricks and the extra cushion never came.

Boston surrendered the lead in the third and ultimately fell in overtime on Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly’s tally with 2:01 remaining in the extra session.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Pastrnak said following the 5-4 loss to Buffalo at TD Garden on Saturday night. “We got one point…we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us. 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.”

There was some question about whether or not there was goalie interference on the winning goal after Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen knocked into Anton Khudobin in the crease. But after an officials’ review it was determined that Torey Krug initiated the contact that led to the collision.

“Well you guys saw it,” said Khudobin, who made 37 saves. “I think that’s interference. He crushed me, pretty much. I mean, we have the referees and it’s their call, but I felt like I didn’t have a chance to even move there. So maybe they said that our guy cross-checked him or whatever, but maybe that’s a penalty, not a goal.”

Ultimately, the Bruins felt they could have done much more to prevent the extra session. Boston held two three-goal leads and entered the third period with a 4-2 advantage. But tallies from former Bruin Benoit Pouliot early in the final frame and Evander Kane with just 2:08 to go in regulation – just seconds after the expiration of Brandon Carlo’s interference penalty – forced overtime.

“Just let it slip away from us,” said Krug, who picked up his first assist of the season. “We needed a big play, needed to get out of a mess and we just couldn’t do it. We hold ourselves accountable and it hurts. Especially with the long layoff before the next game.”

The Bruins appeared to be en route to a blowout early on. With Buffalo on the second end of a back-to-back after falling to Vancouver on Friday night, Boston opened the scoring with goals from Pastrnak and Marchand (on the power play) later in the first and added another on Marchand’s second of the night just 37 seconds into the middle period to build a 3-0 lead.

Jason Pominville got Buffalo on the board at 8:01 of the second, before Pastrnak grabbed his second of the night just over three minutes later to extend Boston’s lead back to three goals.

“We came out in the third and we wanted to continue pouring it on,” said Charlie McAvoy, who had his fifth and sixth assists of the season. “And we had some good shifts when we played in their zone. They were getting it up and getting it in, they were working hard. They had a good forecheck and good sticks. And it’s up to us to protect that lead.”

But Jack Eichel’s tally with 3:53 to go in the second brought Buffalo within two and provided the Sabres with some hope heading into the third. It proved to be the first of four unanswered goals for Buffalo.

“They obviously had the momentum and we really didn’t regain it at any point,” said Marchand. “You always have those momentum swings in the games, but it’s kind of how you handle them and we didn’t do a good job with that tonight.

“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 gonna have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one.”

The injuries to Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller forced Paul Postma into action for the first time this season. Postma, paired with Rob O’Gara for much of the night, played well, landing three shots on goal and three hits with a plus-1 rating in 11 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time.

“Actually pretty good, a little nervous at the start,” Postma said of how he felt. “You can skate in practice as much as you want, but you can’t compare that to a game, and the first couple shifts got the nerves going a little bit, but once I got my feet under me, I felt pretty good.”

O’Gara, recalled from Providence on an emergency basis Saturday morning, was also making his season debut. The blue liner landed one hit and blocked three shots in 14 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time.

“It’s been a long day today with the drive up from Providence this morning, but it felt good,” said O’Gara. “Just trying to stay within myself, playing psychical, being assertive. I think doing that more and more just a little each game…when I’m comfortable and confident is when I play my best.

“I think that will take a little bit of time, but I felt good with how I did tonight.”

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The Bruins returned home from their road trip and claimed a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. Five different scorers found the back of the net for the Bruins, paced by the first line of Brad Marchand, Anders Bjork, and Patrice Bergeron. The trio accounted for 10 points, led by Bergeron in his first game back from injury (1-3-4).

The B’s continue the homestand with a Saturday-night tilt against the Buffalo Sabres. Boston’s leading scorer, Brad Marchand (4-5-9), spoke about building on the positive momentum gained from the victory over Vancouver.

“We want to try to string a few good games together here,” said Marchand. “We definitely can take some positives out of last game and build on them, and errors we can always clean up. If we can do that, then hopefully we continue to improve our game.”

McQuaid Out, Postma In?

In what has become a common theme early this season, the Bruins have lost another veteran player to injury. Adam McQuaid will miss eight weeks with a broken right fibula after blocking a shot for the second time in as many games on Thursday against Vancouver.

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy commended McQuaid for his willingness to sacrifice his body.

“He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room,” said Cassidy. “Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates…every team needs Adam McQuaids, and we’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

In the absence of McQuaid, Bruins offseason free agent signing Paul Postma is ready to fill in should he get the call.

“You never want to see injuries,” said Postma. “Adam is a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve and those things happen. Obviously, wish him the best and we’re going to miss him a lot, but it’s up to the other guys to step up. I’m going to get a chance to play now and make the most of it.

“I’m ready and I’m excited. I’m excited to play my first game as a Bruin.”

Opposing Views

Similar to the Bruins, a number of Sabres have been felled by injuries already during the young season. Seven Buffalo players missed practice on Thursday, including Jacob Josefson, Josh Gorges, Zemgus Girgensons, Zach Bogosian, Justin Falk, Evan Rodrigues and starting goaltender Robin Lehner.

Buffalo has compiled a 1-4-2 record thus far, and their last matchup came against the upstart Vegas Golden Knights. The Sabres came back from a three-goal third-period deficit, before ultimately falling to the Knights in overtime.

Buffalo will be coming off a back-to-back as they battled the Bruins previous opponent, the Vancouver Canucks.

Forward Evander Kane paces the Sabres on the attack. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound forward leads Buffalo in goals (5) and points (10), and leads the NHL with two short-handed goals. The Sabres scoring is supplemented by veteran Jason Pominville (4-5-9) and young star Jack Eichel (2-7-9).

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Boston Bruins starting goalie Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion and is out indefinitely, the team said.

Rask was injured in a collision with rookie forward Anders Bjork during practice Wednesday. He needed assistance to leave the ice.

Anton Khudobin started in goal against the Canucks on Thursday. Zane McIntyre was brought up from Providence to serve as Khudobin’s backup.

Center Patrice Bergeron made his season debut Thursday after being sidelined by a lower-body injury. Coach Bruce Cassidy had called Bergeron a game-time decision after Bergeron wore a non-contact jersey during the morning skate.