Flyers-Bruins Preview (Jan 14, 2017)
BOSTON -- The Bruins played well but weren't able to get at least one point out of their game in Nashville on Thursday night.
But that doesn't mean Claude Julien's team didn't leave Bridgestone Arena feeling fortunate.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask left the game in the first period after taking a Roman Josi shot high. He was able to make his own way to the locker room, where he went through the concussion protocol. He said Thursday night he was "OK" and was on the ice for practice Friday in preparation for Saturday's home matinee against the Philadelphia.
"I'll be good (for Saturday)," Rask said. "It caught part of my jaw too, so I had to go through the concussion testing there. I just had to make sure the breathing was normal and stuff, so it's all good."
Said Julien: "Tuukka's good. I don't know if we dodged a bullet. He's just fine. There's a risk in every game for every player, and he's fine. That's the most important thing right now."
Also in Nashville, rookie Anton Blidh was given a five-minute penalty and game misconduct for his interference hit on Josi, but apparently there will be no discipline handed down by the NHL.
The Bruins, who lost 2-1 in Nashville (the 26th time in45 games they have scored two goals or less), went 2-1-1 on their four-game road trip. But they are just 2-3-1 in the last six and sit at one game under actual .500 at 22-18-5. They face a Flyers team that nipped the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout Thursday but is just 3-6-3 since winning 10 straight games.
Steve Mason, who has been struggling after a heavy workload because of the Michael Neuvirth injury, was pulled after two periods -- four goals allowed -- Thursday. Neuvirth relieved and shut the Canucks through the shootout, getting the win.
Mason made 45 saves in 65 minutes and then was 8 of 9 in the shootout in a 3-2 win over the Bruins in Philadelphia Nov. 29. He is 6-2-3 with a 2.12 goals against average against Boston, while Neuvirth is just 1-4-0 in eight games with a 3.70 average and .868 save percentage against the Bruins. But it looks like Neuvirth will be in goal Saturday, coach Dave Hakstol not committing to a starter in Sunday's day game at Washington -- before the Flyers have their bye week.
Neuvirth returned last weekend after missing almost two months with a knee injury -- Mason starting 22 of 24 games with his backup out.
The Flyers were trailing 4-3 when Neuvirth entered the game Thursday. He stopped 10 shots in the third period, one in overtime and all three in the shootout.
"We thought it was a good time for a change for our team," Hakstol said after the game. "Just coming out of the second period it was a tough second period for us. There were a lot of different things going on there. So it was probably two-fold. It was time to make a change for our team and push for a change in direction and our focus. 'Neuvy' went in and did a good job."
Friday, he said, "He looked really calm and settled right away as soon as he went in at the start of the third period."
Defenseman Mark Streit, out since Dec. 11 with a shoulder injury was returned to the roster yesterday, with Boyd Gordon placed on waivers. Hakstol wouldn't commit to Streit playing Saturday but it appears he will play.
The Bruins likely will be without defenseman Colin Miller for a second straight game because of a lower body injury.
Matt Beleskey, out since December 3 with a knee injury, rejoined his teammates for practice Friday but still hadn't been cleared for contact.
The Flyers (22-16-6) and Bruins, two old rivals, could wind up fighting for a wild card playoff spot down the road. They come into this game with the Flyers ahead of the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings.
Rask is 10-2-3 with a 2.12 goals against average and .926 lifetime against the Flyers; and the Bruins still have only one win this season in games started by anyone but him -- rookie Zane McIntyre, who relieved and lost Thursday, and Anton Khudobin a combined 1-8-2.
The Bruins are just 9-10-0 at home, while the Flyers are 8-10-3 on the road this season.