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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bruins Squeak Out a 2-1 Overtime Win at Hurricanes, Thanks to Pastrnak & Rask

It was a great day overall for the Bruins (38-25-13): rookie David Pastrnak was the hero as they pulled out a thrilling 2-1 overtime win at Carolina (28-36-11) tonight at half-empty PNC Arena. Meanwhile, Florida (35-26-15) helped them out big-time by winning 4-2 at Ottawa (37-26-12). That put Boston back into eighth-place in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the Senators (who still have a game in hand).

The Panthers are four points behind Boston but on another positive note, the B's are only three points behind the Red Wings and Capitals. Most importantly, now they truly control their own playoff destiny from here on out. Boston got all four points that it needed this weekend with back-to-back wins (something they've struggled to attain) against the Rangers and Hurricanes; going back to Thursday vs. Anaheim, five points out of six is not bad for three games in four days.

Tuukka Rask (31-19-12) returned from his scary bout with a migraine headache on Saturday to make 30 saves and earn the win. Rookies scored both goals for the Bruins as Ryan Spooner beat former Boston backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (29 saves) with a quick and low just 2:21 into the tilt. Pastrnak and Adam McQuaid assisted on Spooner's seventh tally of the season.

As they have too often to count this season, Boston let an inferior team hang around and it cost them (at least temporarily). Former BC star Nathan Gerbe used a top-shelf shot to put one past Rask with 22 seconds left in the second period, tying it at one apiece. Chris Terry and Harvard's Danny Biega assisted on Gerbe's eighth goal of the season.

Both teams hit the post and each went 0 for 3 on the power play so it was not a surprise to see it proceed to overtime. Pastrnak's 10th goal of the season had to be one of the most memorable in his young life. Through traffic and without more than a quick glance, Carl Soderberg's backhand pass went right to his tape and he proceeded to crush a one-timer low between Khudobin's five-hole. Torey Krug had the second assist on Pastrnak's third game-winning goal of the season (tied for 3rd most on the team).

For all intents and purposes, Tuesday (7, NESN) could serve as a virtual elimination game for the Panthers. If Boston beats them in regulation at TD Garden, Florida would be six points back with only five games left in the regular season. That's not impossible to overcome but rather unlikely. The B's have no choice but to keep their heads down and to try to keep grinding out results in the final few weeks of their 2014-15 campaign.

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