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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Boston Plays Down to Calgary's Level Yet Still Comes Out On Top, 2-1 Thanks to Bergeron's PPG

When you are in the middle of a congested playoff race in the Eastern Conference with time ticking away, every point matters, particularly when the two best teams in the NHL (Chicago and Washington) are up next on the schedule. Boston (35-23-6) played one of its most boring contests of the season but they managed to beat lowly Calgary (26-33-4) 2-1 tonight at TD Garden. Take that Dougie Hamilton!

Besides the two very valuable points that they earned, the contest was most notable for the B's since it was the debut for three players: right wing Lee Stempniak (1 takeaway in 16:12), defenseman John-Michael Liles (1 hit in 16:55) and rookie center Noel Acciari (+1, 1 shot on goal, 2 hits & 4-3 on faceoffs). Stempniak (from New Jersey) and Liles (from Carolina) were acquired in trades on Monday while Acciari is an undrafted rookie from Providence College that earned a promotion from the Providence Bruins after Zac Rinaldo (also suspended 5 games), Max Talbot and Jonas Kemppainen were all sent down on Monday.

The Bruins new-look fourth line (Acciari, Landon Ferraro and Brett Connolly) came through with a goal on their first shift of the game at 7:05. Torey Krug (28th) and Connolly (16th) had the assists on Ferraro's fifth goal of the season that went top-shelf on winless Joni Ortio (23 saves). Boston was up 1-0 after the first period and the score remained the same after a sleepy second frame.

The Flames were playing in the second night of a back-to-back (they lost 5-3 in Philly last night) but they tied it at one on rookie defenseman Jakub Nakladal's 1st career NHL goal. His one-timer from Jyrki Jokipakka (1st game for Calgary after being traded by Dallas) and Michael Frolik at 5:35 put the requisite amount of angst in Bruins fans' heads. After the 1-0 lead was erased, this looked to be headed to overtime but Patrice Bergeron rescued Boston for the millionth time in his storied career when he scored on a one-timer at 16:36 from one of his favorite spots (high slot). Ryan Spooner (32nd) and David Krejci (team-leading 35th) assisted on Bergeron's 24th goal of the season (tying him for 10th all-time in Bruins history) which came on the power play thanks to a silly too many men on the ice call on Calgary.

Chicago (39-20-5) is at Detroit (32-20-11) tomorrow night before they come to Boston on Thursday (7, NESN) so the best the B's can hope is that they are a little tired and perhaps the Black and Gold can jump on them early or wear them out. Realistically, the Blackhawks will be heavily favored as they should be. The defending Stanley Cup champs loaded up at the trade deadline (Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann) and they appear to be a serious threat to repeat which is basically impossible in the NHL. I thought that Tuukka Rask (24 saves) might get this evening off but I guess that you can't risk that given how hopeless the Bruins have been at home (14-16-3) in 2015-16. Things can't go any worse for the B's than they did against the Kings on Feb. 9 (9-2 embarrassment), right?

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