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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bruins Tie Season-Best Win Streak (5 games) With a 3-0 Shutout of the Rangers

Things can change pretty fast in the NHL. A few weeks ago, the Bruins were circling the drain in the Eastern Conference and looked headed for the Draft Lottery in the spring rather than the playoffs. Now, they are playing like what we all thought they would be this season: one of the main contenders. Boston (24-15-6) won their fifth straight game (tying a season-high), 3-0 tonight at TD Garden vs. the Rangers (24-13-4).

Tuukka Rask made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season and 25th of his NHL career. Three different Bruins scored goals-all even-strength-as Boston flexed their muscles against what had been the hottest team not only in the East but in the entire league. Patrice Bergeron didn't wait long to give the B's an early lead as he followed up Dougie Hamilton's shot and knocked in the rebound at 4:00 of the first period. Bergeron is second on the team with 11 goals.

David Krejci doubled Boston's lead in the second period, Torey Krug found him for an easy tip-in that looked straight out of practice. Poor Cam Talbot (29 saves) didn't have a chance as Krejci potted his sixth goal of the season with Adam McQuaid picking up the second assist. Speaking of McQuaid, he stood up for David Pastrnak after Ivy League educated (Dartmouth) goon Tanner Glass was slashing the rookie on the back of his leg.

Things only get more chippy in the third period when former BC star Chris Kreider boarded Carl Soderberg. Chris Kelly ended up tangling with Kreider, who came out of the scrap with a cut on his chin. Boston put it away a few minutes later as Loui Eriksson roofed a pretty shot by Talbot from in close. His 10th goal of the season (8th straight season of 10+ goals, most on the Bruins) was assisted by Krug and Kevan Miller.

Saturday's meeting (7, NESN) at the Garden is the third of four this season between the Bruins and Blue Jackets. Boston won 4-3 in a shootout at Columbus on November 21 then returned there right after Christmas break for a disgraceful 6-2 loss on December 27 (their lowest point of the season). The Blue Jackets (18-20-3) are in 14th place (out of 16) in the East and 13 points behind the Rangers for eighth-place. In other words, expect some payback by the home team.

It's also the last home game for the Bruins before the All-Star break, they play two games on the road next week before they get some real time off. Tonight's two points put Boston two ahead of the Rangers. Believe it or not, the B's are only six points behind Tampa Bay who is still the top club in the Eastern Conference. They might have been off the rails for a while but now Boston has a chance to get back to where they belong with plenty of games left in the regular season.

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