BOSTON — The Bruins fell just short of their second consecutive upset victory Saturday night, taking the NHL-leading Washington Capitals to overtime but losing 2-1 on a Matt Niskanen goal in the extra session.
The Bruins, who scored an impressive win over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks two nights earlier, now will travel to the Sunshine State for a back-to-back against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, both of whom sit just ahead of Boston in the Atlantic Division standings. The Bruins trail the second-place Panthers by one point and the division-leading Lightning by three.
As the B’s prepare for their brief two-game trip, which begins Monday night, let’s take a spin through some notes from Saturday night.
— Tuukka Rask once again was strong in net for the Bruins, particularly early in the game. The goaltender, who finished with 32 saves, is playing his best hockey of the season, allowing a total of six even-strength goals in regulation over his last six starts.
— The Bruins were burned by yet another video review in the loss.
Torey Krug’s second-period goal, which would have given Boston a 2-0 lead, was wiped away when Capitals coach Barry Trotz challenged the call and referees determined Bruins winger Loui Eriksson had been offside when he entered the offensive zone on the play.
Bruins coach Claude Julien, who’s been critical of review decisions and procedures on several occasions this season, simply said calls like the one on Eriksson are ones “you’ve got to live with.” Winger Brad Marchand, however, was more vocal about his disdain for the video review system.
“I’m not a big fan of it,” Marchand said. “Just because everyone is complaining about how the scoring is down in the league, and they’ve taken away a lot of goals this year. They’re also taking a lot away from the referees, but if that’s … It’s not my call and my job to really care about that, so whatever happens, happens with that.”
— Providence call-up Noel Acciari has proven to be a valuable addition in his three games with the big club. Boston’s fourth line of Landon Ferraro, Acciari and Brett Connolly was active against the Capitals, and Acciari provided the hit of the night when he demolished Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik late in the third period.
— Capitals winger T.J. Oshie would have vaulted himself into Goal of the Year contention had he been able to put this one past Rask:
— Chris Kelly returned to the ice Tuesday for the first time since he fractured his femur back on Nov. 3. The veteran forward was noncommittal when asked about his chances of potentially returning this season, not ruling it out but not setting any timetables, either.
Julien offered a similar response when asked about Kelly’s recovery after Saturday’s morning skate.
“It’s one of those injuries that it’s really hard to determine the exact date,” Julien told reporters. “As you know, having been out for four months or something, this is probably his fourth or fifth day of skating. You have to give him a lot of time to get himself back in shape. But also, everybody has to make sure it’s safe to go. You don’t want another situation to happen because we put him out there too early. So, there’s going to be a lot of factors that determine whether he can before the regular season or whether he can (return) this year. And some of it will be how he feels, and some of it will be how the doctors see his situation and everything else and whether he’s strong enough and all that kind of stuff.
“So, I think there’s too much right now to look at to be able to determine whether he’s two weeks away, three weeks away, four weeks away or even the playoffs or out for the year. So, I think it’s still a little early to determine that.”
— Milt Schmidt, Bruins legend and the oldest living former NHL player, turned 98 on Saturday.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images