3/23 Bruins 7 – Panthers 3
Some great news came down before the game started and that was the Zdeno Chara signed a one-year contract extension with the Bruins. It is extremely well-deserved and really a win-win for both parties. Chara gets to play for at least another year and without taking too much cap space away from a team that may try to make a decent sized signing in the off season.
After hearing the Chara news, the B’s were ready to play, and they came out hard. Not even a full three minutes into the game the Bruins were on the board as David Backes started small point streak when he found Noel Acciari in front of the net for the 1-0 lead. In the second period it only took 28 seconds for the Bruins to double their lead as the combination of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand hooked up once again leading to the Marchand goal. Less than a minute later, the Panthers would score one of their own to get it back to a one goal game.
The great night for Chara continued with about 15 minutes to play in the second period when Big Z would score his 200th career NHL goal, becoming only the 22nd defenseman in NHL history to score 200 or more goals in their career.
The Bruins continued to roll as less than two minutes later, Karson Kuhlman would steal the puck in the neutral zone and snipe one past Samuel Montembeault, the Panthers goalie, for the 4-1 lead. With just under 10 minutes to play in the second period the Panthers would get one back, but the Bruins wouldn’t waver, as Steven Kampfer would score a power play goal to make it 5-2. The Bruins stayed hot in the second period as David Pastrnak got his name on the scoresheet as he displayed his puck handling and speed skating through the Panthers defense and making it a 6-2 game.
As the game went to the third period, the Panthers would score their final goal of the game early in the period but late in their power play opportunity. Now with three goal lead, the Bruins played to drain the clock and eventually Bergeron would score on an empty net with under a minute to play ending the hopes for the Panthers. Not only was this game a great win on a great day for Zdeno Chara, the Bruins secured themselves a playoff spot with the win, and it is becoming more and more likely that the Bruins will take 2nd place in the Atlantic Division and take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
3/25 Bruins 4 – Lightning 5
With both the Bruins and the Lightning securely in the playoffs, the two teams matched up for the third of four matchups this season splitting the first two games. In this one it was the Lightning who would get the win after coming from behind late. They started the scoring in this one as Steven Stamkos would score his first of two in the game and his 40th of the season. Halfway through the first period, the Bruins would tie the game on a power play goal by Brad Marchand set up by David Pastrnak. With about five minutes to play in the period, Stamkos would get the lead back for the Lightning with another rocket past Tuukka Rask.
In the second period the Bruins would have another strong showing for the second game in a row as they tacked on three straight goals. It started with Charlie Coyle showing a tremendous display of skill as David Backes poked checked the puck right to Coyle in front of the net where he dangled to beat the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy to tie the game. With just over six minutes to play in the period, Brandon Carlo took drop pass from David Krejci and scored just his second goal of the season. Only about a minute later, Brad Marchand would score his 34th goal of the season after his shot was blocked and went over the head of Vasilevskiy into the back of the net to give the Bruins a 4-2 lead. Unfortunately the third period would be a different story as the Lightning would go on to score three unanswered goals of their own and take a 5-4 lead. They got the game winner with just under a minute to play not giving the Bruins much of a chance to tie it late.
3/27 Bruins 6 – Ranger 3
In the final matchup of these original six teams, the Bruins came out on top for the first time this over the New York Rangers. Since his return from injury, David Pastrnak has proved that his thumb will not be an issue as he has recorded at least a point in four of those five games. He led the way in this game as he recorded his third hat trick of the season, becoming the first Bruin since Cam Neely in 1993-1994 to have three in a season. Pasta ended the game with five points on the night as he also threw in two assists.
After Pastrnak’s first two goals gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead midway through the second period, Jake DeBrusk got his 24th goal of the season. Early in the third period, the Rangers would get a goal back to make it a 3-2 game, but the Bruins would not let them back in the game as they exploded for three more goals. With about seven minutes to play, David Pastrnak got his third goal of the game coming on the power play where he has become one of the most lethal players in the NHL. Later in the period the Bruins power play would keep producing as Pastrnak fired a shot that was deflected in front by Patrice Bergeron to make it a 5-2 game. Charlie McAvoy would get a power play goal less than a minute later to add to the Bruins lead. The Rangers would score one more with about four seconds to play but ultimately could not handle the strength of the B’s power play and succumbed to defeat. It was an all-around great game for the Bruins who have shown that when full strength, are not to be messed with and will be a force in the playoffs.
The Week Ahead
As the Bruins enter the final stretch of the season with five games remaining, we will take a look at the next four in the coming week. They start out on Saturday at 1pm against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. They will be in action the following night at 730pm in Detroit against the Red Wings. On Tuesday at 7pm the Bruins will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road and wrap up the week on Thursday night at 8pm in Minnesota against the Wild.
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