Bruins, Canucks both battling to get back into playoff chase (Feb 11, 2017)
BOSTON -- The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins, both trying to force their way back into the NHL playoffs, both scored important victories Thursday night.
Saturday, the 2011 Stanley Cup finalists meet for a TD Garden matinee.
The Canucks, who missed the playoffs last season, rode Ryan Miller to a 3-0 shutout win at Columbus on Thursday and moved to six points out of the Western Conference wild card. The win, ended a four-game losing streak.
The Bruins, meanwhile, played -- and won -- their first game under interim coach Bruce Cassidy to move past the Philadelphia Flyers into the second Eastern Conference wild card spot. They are close to the second and third spots in the Atlantic Division, but both Toronto and Ottawa have significant games in hand -- and are just six points ahead of last place in the conference.
"It's what we needed. Everyone was engaged tonight," Miller said after Vancouver's Thursday win. "I thought we played the right way ... we got a great result tonight."
The 36-year-old Miller is 8-4-2 with a .936 save percentage since Christmas. The results of the next few weeks may well determine whether he is dealt as the Canucks, who end their road trip at Buffalo Sunday, become sellers at the deadline.
For now, he's playing well. Thursday, he and his mates were rewarded.
"We've been matched up against some good teams and those teams were able to exploit (our) mistakes," he said. "Tonight, we weren't giving them that option. We pay attention to details we can play against good teams, they're a good team and we got a good result."
So did the Bruins, who needed just 52 seconds for the first goal of the Cassidy era and never trailed in defeating the San Jose Sharks, the Pacific Division's first-place team.
"Hopefully, we build from that and realize how we have to play the game and the intensity that we need," said Patrice Bergeron, who had a goal and three assists in the win. "But, that being said, we can't just rely on one game. It's about moving forward and keep pushing and definitely using that game as an example of how we need to play."
Said David Backes, who scored that first-minute goal after Cassidy moved him up to the first line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand: "We knew we needed a great effort and we certainly provided that tonight. That being said, we've got to know what it took and how hard it is to bring games and bring that same effort on Saturday afternoon and put this one behind us after we brave this snow storm."
Cassidy said Friday both goalies -- Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin -- will play one game this weekend, but didn't say who would play Saturday against Vancouver or Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens, both at home.
Rask has started 13 straight and 19 of the last 20 games, is 2-4-1 with a 2.39 goals against average and .910 save percentage against Vancouver, while he is 6-15-3 with .261/.912 against Montreal.
The Bruins, who got captain Zdeno Chara back at practice Friday after he missed three days, including Thursday's game, because of illness, back on the ice, are just 1-10-2 in games not started by Rask this season. Khudobin, who has been back and forth to the minors, is 1-5-1 with a 3.06 goals against this season, after signing a two-year contract to return to Boston.
Miller, the former Buffalo Sabre, has a long resume against the Bruins, going 27-9-7 with a 2.55 goals against average and .919 save percentage lifetime against Boston.