The Boston Bruins (34-18-5, 73 points) continue their homestand at TD Garden (7:05 pm, NESN, NBCS-Chicago) with their only home date of the season against the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks (21-29-8, 50 points). The Bruins dropped a 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night where they surrendered a game-tying goal in the final minute.
It was the third time in the last couple of weeks that the Boston Bruins were pushed into giving up a costly goal in the final seconds of regulation and has Boston wary of ending that trend as quickly as possible.
“The positive is we’re in a position where we’re right there to finish the game. So that’s the positive,” said Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “This team historically has had guys here that have been very good at it. So, we’ve just got to get back to that mentality going into the playoffs…it should be in their heads that we’ve done this for years, closed out games.
“At the end of the day, it’s part of playing winning hockey, closing out games. I don’t want to say it’s in our heads, but we’re aware of it. [We] have to be aware of it. And come crunch time, we’re going to be in a lot of those types of games and typically we have been good. So, I’m also not going to overreact for a 10 day stretch of some goals late. But it’s like I said, we’ve got to address it and fix it.”
Jeremy Swayman gets the start for the Boston Bruins as he looks to keep building on a March where he’s posted a 7-1-1 record with a 1.53 goals against average and .947 save percentage since the NHL All-Star break.
Backup goaltender Kevin Lankinen is expected to get the start for the Chicago Blackhawks and is 3-6-4 this season with a 3.57 goals against average and .885 save percentage.
Boston Bruins Notes
-Craig Smith has been red-hot for the Boston Bruins and continued that high level play in Monday night’s loss by scoring a goal and continuing a stretch where he’s got five goals and six points in his last three games.
-Charlie Coyle had a pair of nifty assists in Monday night’s loss, but also had a rough turnover in overtime that led to the game-winning goal for the Los Angeles Kings. In general, the Boston Bruins third line of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith has been very productive as of late from an offensive standpoint.
-Matt Grzelcyk will miss his second straight game after waking up and feeling “under the weather” on Thursday morning. Rookie defenseman Jack Ahcan will again replace Grzelcyk in the Boston Bruins lineup skating in a pairing with Brandon Carlo.
-Patrick Kane posted a career-high six points (1G, 5A) on Tuesday night in a blowout win against the Anaheim Ducks. He became the first Blackhawks skater to record six points in a game since Bernie Nicholls on Feb. 5, 1995.
-The red-hot Alex DeBrincat has goals in four straight games for the Blackhawks and has scored 33 times on the season.
-The Blackhawks removed forward Reese Johnson from long-term injured reserve (right clavicle) and re-assigned him to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Thursday morning.
Boston Bruins Lines:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Nick Foligno-Tomas Nosek-Curtis Lazar
Mike Reilly – Charlie McAvoy
Jack Ahcan – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Chicago Blackhawks Lines:
Alex Debrincat–Dylan Strome–Patrick Kane
Brandon Hagel–Jonathan Toews–Kirby Dach
Dominik Kubalik–Tyler Johnson–Philipp Kurashev
Henrik Borgstrom–Ryan Carpenter–Sam Lafferty
Calvin De Haan–Seth Jones
Jake McCabe–Connor Murphy
Riley Stillman–Alec Regula