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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bruins Close Out January On a High Note With 3-1 Win vs. Kings

Remember a month or two ago when we were all legitimately worried about the Bruins? That seems pretty silly now as Boston closed out January 8-1-3 overall and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games thanks to a playoff-like 3-1 win over Los Angeles tonight at TD Garden. The Kings (21-16-12), the defending Stanley Cup champs, are in serious danger of missing out on the playoffs entirely while the Bruins (27-16-7) have climbed up to sixth-place in the Eastern Conference (3 points behind Pittsburgh).

These teams play such a similar physical style with deep rosters and great goaltending so it's no wonder that the few times that they play, they usually result in very entertaining contests. LA had won 2-0 on Dec. 2 at Staples Center when the Bruins were allergic to scoring goals. It was scoreless until 17:20 of the second period when Brad Marchand was able to snipe a shot past UMass' Jonathan Quick (30 saves). Marchand's team-leading 14th goal of the season was assisted by Zdeno Chara and Gregory Campbell.

It was ironic that Marchand scored the opening goal since he thought he had one at the end of the first period except for the fact that the highlight reel sequence came a good two seconds after the final buzzer had sounded. It looked like 1-0 might hold up but Jordan Nolan of all people tied it up with seven minutes left in regulation. His shot deflected off Dougie Hamilton's stick past Tuukka Rask (30 saves). Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin assisted on Nolan's second goal of the season.

Just like the other night in Long Island, where the Bruins shook off a blown two-goal lead, they rallied quickly tonight to ensure this didn't go to overtime or the dreaded shootout. Chris Kelly had a beautiful tip-in of Carl Soderberg's shot at 14:33. Kelly's sixth goal of the season was reviewed since it went high up in the net then came out fast. It stood with Torey Krug picking up the second assist.

LA put pressure on Rask at the end, pulling Quick and regrouping when Boston head coach Claude Julien called his timeout. However, Marchand ended it with a weird empty-netter with 17 seconds left that appeared to go in slow motion after he tried to pass it ahead to either himself or Patrice Bergeron.

The Bruins are off until Wednesday (8, NBCSN) when they travel to Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers (28-15-4). Their next home game isn't until next Saturday (7, NESN) vs. Islanders (32-16-1) then the Canadiens (32-13-3) are in town the following evening (7:30, NBCSN). It should be an interesting week against three other contending Eastern Conference teams that will be in the postseason.

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