BUFFALO — The Bruins needed a shootout to edge the Sabres in Buffalo on Thursday night, but it didn’t matter.
The 3-2 win gave them two prime points.
“It was a very tight game, right from the bat,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 26 saves on 28 shots in the victory. “I think it was a good up and down game. Both teams had some offensive zone time with some chances and you really had to fight for every inch on the ice there.”
“I mean, you can’t be looking at the standings anymore because every team’s good and Buffalo’s a good team and they showed it today, so thankfully we got the win.”
Buffalo was coming off a 4-1 come-from-behind win in Montreal the night before.
They grabbed a 2-0 lead early in the second, when Sam Reinhart scored just 47 seconds into the period, following up Evander Kane’s first period tally.
“Nobody panicked and everybody continued to compete,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “The passes and execution just got better and our game got better as well — so I liked our game.”
BUFFALO — Jonas Gustavsson traveled with the Bruins to Buffalo, and has been cleared to play.
The announcement from the Bruins came on Thursday morning.
"The final testing is complete and all results have been reviewed by the Bruins Medical Staff,” the team’s press release said. “Jonas has been cleared to resume full on-ice participation with the team without any restrictions."
“He’s fully cleared and so it’s good to have him back,” Head Coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s pregame skate, which Gustavsson participated in.
The netminder had been back skating since Monday. He left the Bruins’ game against Anaheim on Jan. 26 after the first period for precautionary reasons, due to an elevated heart rate.
BOSTON — The Bruins struck twice in 26 seconds within the first 1:21 of the third period to take a 3-1 lead over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
The game seemed in hand, once again, on home ice.
But a quick pair of Toronto goals midway through the third made it a 3-3 game. The Leafs would take the game, 4-3, in overtime.
It marked the Bruins’ second straight loss, though the most recent defeat came a week ago on Jan. 26 before the NHL’s All-Star Break.
They had won five of seven games prior to that loss to Anaheim.
“Good teams, they put lots of games together, and it seems like we play two games good and then for a few games we let it slip away,” a frustrated David Krejci said postgame. “Obviously we have a long way to be a great team, so we have to learn from those mistakes.”
NASHVILLE — When Patrice Bergeron’s Atlantic Division team was facing off against the Metropolitan Division in the NHL All-Star Game’s semifinal on Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena, his opponents had one request.
“A few guys on the other team, they were telling me I wasn’t allowed to backcheck,” Bergeron laughed. “That it was an unwritten rule in the All-Star Game.”
“But I didn’t know about that,” he smirked.
Team Atlantic earned a 4-3 win in the semifinal to advance to the final against Team Pacific, who had topped Team Central to earn the West’s bid.
The low-scoring game saw Bergeron’s squad fall 1-0 to Team Pacific in the 20-minute game. The lone goal — from Corey Perry — was scored with just 6:22 left.
Emphasis on defense is obviously not new to the Bruin.
NASHVILLE — NHL All-Star Weekend always provides a laid back, relaxing atmosphere for all involved.
A chance to take a few days, take a step back from the grind of the regular season and enjoy what makes this game great: the players, and the fans.
The players’ hard work on the ice is showcased all season long, but it’s weekends like this that let them showcase their personalities, too.
Patrice Bergeron can be included in that group — even if it’s in a subtle way.
On Saturday, Bergeron took part in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition for the East. His squad took a 29-12 decision at the end of the night after showing off their skills.
Bergeron participated in Accuracy Shooting, in the Skills Challenge Relay as a one-time passer, and in the quick-fire NHL Shootout that capped off the night in front of some 17,000 fans at Bridgestone Arena.
Afterwards, the Bruins’ alternate captain stood in front of a white wall in the back of his crowded locker room with reporters sardined in.
’So, this win — or the Stanley Cup?’ he was jokingly asked by a reporter.
He smiled, of course.
“Ah, it’s tough to choose, but I’ll go with the Cup.”
Bergeron’s first order of duty for the night was the Accuracy Shooting challenge, which he participated in at the All-Star Game in 2015 in Columbus. He always tries to channel Ray Bourque and his famous 4-for-4 bid.
The challenge didn’t necessarily go as he had planned this time around, when the puck fumbled on him a bit.
“It didn’t go according to plan, let’s just put it that way,” he smiled.
“Tough one. Tough one on that,” he added. “It was all me on that, but I’ve got to — I’d like to do it again, you know. It’s one of those things, that when you miss a few early… last year was the opposite, I got a few early and felt good about it, so this year it was kind of the opposite and I can’t blame it on the passers either — it was Jags and Nicklas Backstrom, so it was all me.”
No. 37 redeemed himself, though, when he potted two beauties in the rapid-fire shootout for the East — slipping one past John Gibson after a deke, and putting another under the bar.
“The approach was trying to redeem myself from the accuracy shooting,” he laughed. “It was nice to get those two goals and hopefully I can bring that to Boston for the shootouts if we need it.”
He also set up one-timers during the Skills Relay, softly sending feeds to Steven Stamkos, Erik Karlsson and Aaron Ekblad.
“I was happy for that. I thought the guys were happy with my passes and I was trying to go really slow for them to have their time to take a good shot,” he said with a grin.
Bergeron’s favorite part of the night turned out to be first event of the night — the Breakaway Challenge.
“I thought obviously, the Breakaway Challenge was kind of the event that stood out to me,” said Bergeron. “ I thought the guys did a great job of doing some great things, but also making it funny for everyone and entertaining, so it was great.”
San Jose’s Brent Burns — a character with his long, hairy beard, no doubt — dressed up as Chewbacca after showing a montage of his “evolution” through the years and flew in on a breakaway.
P.K. Subban came out dressed like Jaromir Jagr with a No. 68 Florida jersey and a classic wig to try and emulate Jagr’s flowing locks.
“I mean, obviously Chewbacca was amazing, with the intro on the big screen and with the mask and then obviously P.K., that was a great idea and that was pretty funny, he was playing the role pretty good.”
All in all, Bergeron enjoyed himself — and it showed.
The night began with players introductions, with the announcer shouting out: “From the Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron!”
“It’s special. It’s always nice,” Bergeron said of the fan reaction and the atmosphere. “The fans have been great all along here, so it was fun to take that all in.”
The great experience stretches beyond the rink, as well.
“It’s been great. It’s been a lot of fun,” said a relaxed Bergeron. “I’ve enjoyed my time here and Nashville has been very welcoming and the people have been nice.”
NASHVILLE — Patrice Bergeron has been to Nashville many times before on the Bruins’ usual regular season docket.
This time around in 2016, he’s back in Music City as an NHL All-Star, 13 years after he was drafted 45th overall by Boston at the same arena in 2003.
“Brought back some memories, coming back here,” Bergeron said during Friday’s NHL-All Star Media Day at Bridgestone Arena. “I think it’s 13 years later now, so it’s definitely special and looking back, I never thought I’d be here that many years later at an All-Star Game, so it’s definitely a lot of fun.”
For the second consecutive season, Bergeron is taking in the All-Star experience. His first foray came in 2015 in Columbus.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It’s a true honor, just to be named to the All-Star Game and try to enjoy the moment and really take advantage of the whole weekend and try to have fun with it.”
It’s a unique experience for Bergeron this time around as well, given that he was able to bring his family along.
BOSTON — The site of the old Boston Garden is being transformed into a new development — “The Hub on Causeway” — that will revitalize the area around TD Garden and North Station.
An official groundbreaking ceremony ceremony took place on Wednesday, Jan. 27, with officials from Delaware North, Boston Properties, the City of Boston, and the state of Massachusetts.
The Hub on Causeway will feature 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use retail, office, hotel and residential space, as well as an expansion of TD Garden to provide a brand new entrance for fans and commuters.
The 2.5 acre site will also bring substantial improvements to North Station, will create major economic impact for the area, and strengthen the viability of this important district — merging the North End with the West End.
“The Hub on Causeway project has the potential to make this neighborhood one of the most desirable places to live and work in the entire Northeast,” said Boston Bruins Owner and Chairman of Delaware North Jeremy Jacobs.
“We will break ground on a new era of economic growth, and it will stimulate the dynamic transformation for this part of Boston.”
PHILADELPHIA — With just under eight minutes left in regulation, Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds fired in an equalizer to knot the game at 2-2.
It could have been an “Oh no, not again” moment for Boston.
In the teams’ previous two meetings, Philadelphia had rallied for third period comeback wins. The Bruins were looking to avoid the series sweep.
To see a 2-0 lead evaporate was frustrating. To utilize a Coach’s Challenge on the play leading up to Simmonds’ tying goal — when it appeared that Michael Del Zotto’s skate was clearly offside on a rush into the Bruins’ zone — and have the call on the ice stand, was even more frustrating.
“That second goal of theirs was a bit of a frustrating one — we really felt it was offside, said Head Coach Claude Julien. “But then, at the same time, our guys just stayed focused and found a way to win.”
PHILADELPHIA — Tuukka Rask will be a game-time decision on Monday night, when the Bruins face off against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
Rask took part in the team’s pregame skate at the Wells Fargo Center, and was the first netminder off the ice.
“We’re going to make a decision tonight,” Head Coach Claude Julien said after the morning skate. “If he’s 100 percent, he’s going. So that hasn’t been answered yet.”
Rask had been scheduled to play on Saturday against Columbus, but he was not 100 percent, so a last-minute change was made to put Jonas Gustavsson between the pipes. Julien stressed Saturday night that the situations was “nothing major.”
BOSTON — The Bruins grabbed the two points that they needed on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, even if it took Ryan Spooner’s shootout winner to ultimately get the 3-2 win.
Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak gave them a 2-0 lead early in the second. Columbus wiped that out quickly in a span of about three minutes. Spooner and Torey Krug both scored in the shootout, with Jonas Gustavsson stopping both Columbus shots he faced 1-on-1.
“I think the two points are really important at this time of the year,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “But it’s not so much the two goals that we gave up — it’s the way we played tonight again, you know — we need to be better.”
“I thought our intensity was good, but not good enough and we need to be better with that. When you’re a little bit more intense, so is your execution, and I thought our execution was average tonight.”
The Bruins have just one loss in their past five games, but they know they haven’t been playing their best hockey.