BOSTON - The Bruins were 15 seconds away from not even earning a point.
With 14.1 on the clock in regulation, an extra attacker on the ice for a 6-on-4 power play, and Tuukka Rask watching from the bench, Brad Marchand fought his way to the front and tipped in a Dougie Hamilton shot from the right point to force extra time.
Marchand has scored big-time goals before, and this celebration was no different. The arms went up, the piercing shout no doubt resounded on the ice, and the determined look meant the Bruins had life. The home crowd at TD Garden followed suit.
The goal tied the game at 2-2. Boston had fought for a point, and they had the momentum heading into OT.
"I thought that everybody had that killing instinct going into that 6-on-4," said captain Zdeno Chara, who said he wasn't surprised Rask was pulled right at the start of the power play, with 2:03 to go in the third. "I mean, it’s do or die."
That killer instinct hasn't necessarily been there for the Bruins all season. Marchand helped them regain that.
Then, in overtime, the Black and Gold rolled out their sets of three forwards and one defenseman, pushing the pace, and playing to win.
With 1:08 to go, Marchand got the Bruins their second point, backhanding in the overtime winner to lift them to the 3-2 win.
BOSTON - The Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden in a four-point game that has important implications in the playoff race.
Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
Boston has been holding on to the second Wild Card spot in the East with 72 points through 63 games. Philadelphia is gunning for that spot, sitting just four points back of the Bruins , though the Black and Gold have two games in hand.
The Florida Panthers (70 points, 65 games) and Ottawa Senators (69 points, 63 games) are both chasing the Bruins as well.
Needless to say, the Bruins need to start creating separation in the standings. Saturday's game is yet another opportunity to do that.
"I think the intensity has been high for a while," Dennis Seidenberg said pregame from TD Garden. "We all know what we're playing for, especially today, we're playing against a team that's a few points back behind us so we all know the importance of this game, and we're looking forward to it."
"Every team we're going to play, it's going to be a fight, it's going to be a battle," said captain Zdeno Chara. "We have a number of teams that are really closing on us and some teams ahead of us that we're going to be facing and pretty much every game, it's going to be a big battle for every point."
Krug's one-year extension keeps him in Black and Gold through at least the 2015-16 season, with Smith signed a two-year extension through 2016-17.
"I want to play in Boston as long as I can, but I've got to prove myself," Krug said after signing the extension. "And that comes with defending better, and taking on a bigger role with the team."
"I want to be a top-four defenseman and I want to prove it to myself, I want to prove it to Peter [Chiarelli] and the coaching staff as well, so, in time, hopefully, it leads to something bigger and better."
With Smith's two-year extension, he's embracing the pressure that it brings, to keep improving.
"I welcome it. It's probably a little bit more pressure, but as a hockey player, and playing in this organization and at this level, you welcome that every day," Smith said. "Because people get better every day and just being able to cope with the challenges and the changes in this League, I think it's something that every player, they dream to do."
Krug and Smith are both in their third pro seasons, and just their second full-time NHL seasons. Smith spent most of the lockout season in the AHL, before joining Dallas. His first real full-time, top-six role came with the Bruins last season.
BOSTON - In the eighth round of the shootout on Thursday night at TD Garden, Calgary Flames defensemen David Schlemko dangled in and pushed the puck by Tuukka Rask to hand the Bruins a 4-3 loss.
"Well [Coach] just asked me, 'Are you good at these things?' I just told him I was 1-for-1 and [Kris] Russell said, 'He was good in juniors,' so yeah, just went out there and tried my move and it worked," said Schlemko, who was making his Flames debut after being claimed off waivers.
And just like that, amidst the Bruins' playoff race for the second Wild Card spot in the East - currently held by the Black and Gold - the all-important second point wasn't earned.
Patrice Bergeron was the lone Bruin to score in the seventh round. Boston's shootout woes are well-documented.
"Well, it’s always tough to take, and you go back – I don’t know how many years – look at my comments about them," said Rask, who stopped the Flames' first six shots in the shootout. "It’s such an emotional difference between winning and losing in a shootout, and this season we haven’t been really good at them."
"But again, that’s not the reason we lost tonight," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "I think we’ve definitely been challenged in that area. We’ve been challenged all year with shootouts."
The Bruins knew they could have ended the game way before it even became a shootout.
For the sixth straight game, they struck first, at 7:46 into the first period, when Brad Marchand notched his team-leading 19th goal of the season. The winger wrapped around the goal and banked it off Karri Ramo, after Patrice Bergeron tipped a Dougie Hamilton just wide.
BostonBruins.com - The 2015 trade deadline has come and gone, and as is customary, General Manager Peter Chiarelli held his annual post-deadline press conference at TD Garden on Monday evening.
"Going into this deadline, we identified some needs, obviously," Chiarelli told the reporters gathered, a couple of hours after the deadline had passed. "We’ve tried to address these needs. A couple of injuries that have happened maybe put us in a different direction."
A few weeks ago, the Bruins lost defenseman Kevan Miller for the season after he re-injured his right shoulder and required surgery. David Krejci sustained a partially torn MCL in his left knee and is out four to six weeks.
The Black and Gold started deadline day by acquiring forward Brett Connolly from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the early hours of the morning, in exchange for the Bruins' natural second round draft pick in 2015 and the Bruins' natural second round draft pick in 2016.
By the deadline, they had acquired forwards Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Jordan Caron and the Bruins' sixth round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. In a depth deal, Boston acquired forward Zack Phillips from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Jared Knight to wrap up the day.
Boston also explored adding defensive depth.
"And notwithstanding some injuries, specifically on defense, the exercise that we went through was the depth defensemen that we looked to add: Do they equate to the depth players that we signed in the first place? And we made a conscious effort this year to see if that was the case," said Chiarelli, later noting blueliners like Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman and David Warsofsky who have all shown their progress on the back end. "We had chances to add a lot — a number of different depth defensemen, and in the end, we didn’t"
BostonBruins.com - At 2:00 a.m. ET on Monday morning, the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning made the first trade of deadline day, with Boston acquiring forward Brett Connolly in exchange for two second round draft picks in 2015 and 2016.
The 22-year-old Connolly is a right-shot right wing, who added edge to his game in the second half of 2014-15 for the Lightning in a bottom-six role.
"He's a young player, can really shoot the puck, he's got some size, he was drafted sixth overall. He's just starting to come into his own a little bit," General Manager Peter Chiarelli told BostonBruins.com on Monday morning from his office at TD Garden. "He's kind of a straight line player, but he makes plays and he can really shoot the puck."
"He's a player we kind of looked at for a while," said Chiarelli. "They've got a lot of right wings in Tampa and it kind of loosened up last night so we jumped on it. It got done early this morning. But he's a guy that we think can come in and help us right away and still could have a long future for us."
Through 50 games, the Prince George, BC native has 12 goals and three assists. He's been a mainstay in Tampa Bay's lineup this season in his fourth year pro, aside from being sidelined for 12 games with an upper-body injury in October and November. He has a strong shot in his arsenal but doesn't shy away from the dirty areas in front for tips.
BOSTON - Facing the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night didn't exactly present the Bruins with their toughest challenge. The Coyotes were coming in having lost eight straight, including three straight before closing out a four-game road trip in Boston.
Combined with the impending trade deadline coming up on March 2, there was a cloud hanging over the Coyotes heading into this one, whether they wanted it there or not.
"I haven’t really - to be honest with you - I haven’t looked at their record of eight straight losses more than I’ve looked at ours, saying this is an important game, as important as [Saturday's] was to win," Head Coach Claude Julien had said an hour before puck drop.
"We really have been taking a focus on our team, not just who we play, but how well we play. That’s the main thing right now."
The Bruins came out of a fairly stress-free night with a 4-1 win over Arizona and two straight wins for the first time in a month, having earned a 3-2 overtime win on Friday night in New Jersey.
Boston needed to take care of business, and they made it easy on themselves, for once, to push for the full 60 minutes, in all three zones.
Milan Lucic put the Bruins on the board just 2:40 in, taking advantage of a harmless David Pastrnak dump-in that jumped over goalie Mike Smith's stick. Lucic banked the puck off of Smith's skate and in for his 13th of the season.
NEWARK - Ryan Spooner had gone 34 NHL games without finding the back of the net.
He picked an opportune time to hit the twine, firing in the overtime winner to lift the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jerseys Devils on Friday night at the Prudential Center.
The Bruins needed the two points, and Spooner needed the goal.
"Thanks," he smiled to reporters when they congratulated him postgame in locker room. "Finally."
Boston had given up a 2-0 lead in the third period, with the Devils tying it up 2-2 off two goals just 2:09 apart.
Early in overtime, Claude Julien was forced to a call a timeout with his team caught on an icing. It also offered a chance for the bench boss to drive home the message.
"He said, just go out there and play, and stick to our game. And we did that, and scored," said Spooner.
Niklas Svedberg, starting between the pipes with Tuukka Rask ill and not able to suit up, blocked away a shot from Martin Havlat. The Bruins got on their horse and went up ice with a four-on-two rush.
NEWARK - Tuukka Rask was not on the ice for pregame skate at the Prudential Center on Friday morning in New Jersey.
"He's actually under the weather right now, so we'll see how he is," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the skate. "We're obviously taking some precautions here, whether he can make it or not, and there's probably a goaltender that we'll try and get here for game time."
"If he's not feeling well, I'd rather not have him on the bench. We'll see. He talked to me this morning - feeling a little bit better, so we'll have to make some decisions here."
Niklas Svedberg was the only goalie on the ice for the skate, along with Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa.
Later in the afternoon, around 1:00 p.m., the Bruins announced that goaltender Jeremy Smith had been recalled from the Providence Bruins on an emergency basis. Smith will join the team in New Jersey and be eligible for the matchup with the Devils.
Given the situation, Julien did not confirm a starting goaltender.
"I don't have the answer. I know you're going to ask me who's going to be in nets - I don't know," Julien said before the recall was announced. "You know, Sveddy's here, obviously. I'll see how Tuukka is first, before I announce anything here…I'm not in the position to kind of say this is what's happening tonight."
BostonBruins.com - Sometimes, it just takes one. One game, one shift, one goal.
For Daniel Paille, that's all it took to feel good again.
After sitting out two straight games as a healthy scratch, and going through a stretch of 36 games without a goal, the 10-year veteran pounced on a rebound just 1:05 into his first game back, and powered it into the twine.
His last goal had come back on Nov. 21 in Columbus. The next one, on Feb. 24, snapped a 16-game pointless streak. His 13:27 in ice time was his 10th highest total all season.
The Bruins eventually fell 2-1 to Vancouver, and given the result, scoring was no consolation for Paille. But after netting his first goal in more than three months, he finally had the feeling back of finding the back of the net.
"Sometimes when you’re in the stretch that I was in, it’s good to take a step back before you take two steps forward," said Paille. "I think I was just in a bad place for a long time, couldn’t figure out how to get out of it, and after watching the last couple of games just tried to calm down a little bit and at the same time get some anger in there for when I get back in there."
Through 58 games this season, Paille now has two goals and seven assists.
"You know, I thought talking with Claude, he’s been really clear with me what he wants or what he needs from me," said Paille. "So there’s no miscommunication there, I just needed to have a better effort. That was my goal and I think I did a good job refocusing, but it’s only one game."