April 21, 2018
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Marchand goal lifts Bruins by Predators in OT

Greg M. Cooper | USA Today Sports
Greg M. Cooper | USA Today Sports
Boston Bruins right wing Reilly Smith (18) slides the puck away from Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (42) during the third period at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Thursday night. The Bruins won 3-2 in overtime.
By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins woke up after a sleepy second period and wound up winning a game 3-2 in overtime over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Left winger Brad Marchand scored off a nifty move 54 seconds into the extra period, making a winner of goaltender Niklas Svedberg in his NHL debut.

The win allowed the Bruins to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Nashville had a two-game winning streak stopped and still got a point.

Down 1-0 and outshot 16-3 in the second period, the Bruins came out a different team in the third period. Goals by defenseman Johnny Boychuk, his first in 19 games, and right winger Jarome Iginla (No. 13) gave the Bruins the lead with 7:31 left.

Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, who assisted on his team’s goal, tied the game with his 10th goal of the year with 5:25 left to send the game to overtime.

As he has done in the past, Boston coach Claude Julien elected to play three forwards and one defenseman in the 4-on-4. On the second shift, Marchand made a great move to get around center Mike Fisher before beating goaltender Marek Mazanec with his 10th goal of the season.

Fisher set up both Nashville goals and has eight points in the last three games.

Svedberg, who made 33 saves, 15 of them in the second period, was supposed to debut last Saturday night at Ottawa. But a roster problem, created when defenseman Zdeno Chara couldn’t play that night, forced the team to send Svedberg back to Providence.

Svedberg was severely tested early, but did get a break when right winger Craig Smith’s power play slapper rang off the crossbar in the first period. The Bruins then got sloppy late in a second period that saw the visitors pile up a 16-3 shots advantage. Rookie defenseman Seth Jones went all the way before being stopped by Svedberg.

Then, a bad line change led to the first NHL goal allowed by Svedberg. Weber got the puck to center Mike Fisher, whose sharp-angle shot was stopped. The rebound came right out to Stalberg, who buried it at 18:04 of the second.

It was Stalberg’s fifth goal of the season but first in eight games.

NOTES: D Dougie Hamilton (knee) and LW Carl Soderberg (head) returned to the Bruins’ lineup. Soderberg missed the previous two games for what was believed to be a concussion, but he said he was not concussed. Hamilton missed the previous 10 games. … The Predators signed D Jonathan Ismael-Diaby, a third-round pick in the 2013 draft, to a three-year entry-level contract. … The Bruins began a stretch of five consecutive games and eight of the next nine against the Western Conference. They host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and then play five of their next six on the road, starting with three in California. … The Predators opened a three-game road trip. They visit Florida to play the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. … Linesmen Lonnie Cameron and Mark Wheler, already working their second straight game in Boston, were told, because of the storm, to stay in Boston and work Saturday’s game as well.

Islanders 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Right winger Kyle Okposo scored 58 seconds into overtime Thursday night to give the New York Islanders a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at Nassau Coliseum.

An announced crowd of 13,618 turned out as a blizzard bore down on Long Island. Most of them went home happy after Okposo — one of the most controversial omissions from the U.S. Olympic hockey team — spared the Islanders yet another gut-wrenching home loss by putting back a rebound of center John Tavares’ shot.

Okposo pumped his fists and slammed his fists into the boards after the puck sailed past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. Chants of “U-S-A!” rained down on the ice as the Islanders celebrated.

Center Casey Cizikas and left winger Thomas Vanek also scored for the Islanders, who took a 2-0 lead before the Blackhawks tied it. New York (14-21-7) has blown six two-goal leads this season at Nassau Coliseum, where it was 0-4-4 in its last eight games heading into Thursday night.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook and right winger Ben Smith scored for the Blackhawks (29-7-8), who are 5-0-3 in their last eight games.

Crawford, who was playing for the first time since suffering a lower body injury on Dec. 8, had 31 saves

Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov had 37 saves.

The Blackhawks generated most of the offense in the first period, when they outshot the Islanders 12-5. But Nabokov made a series of impressive saves — including smothering the puck between his legs on a shot by center Jonathan Toews with 7:48 left — to keep the game scoreless until Cizikas’ impressive goal gave the Islanders the lead with 4:36 remaining in the period.

Cizikas stole the puck in the neutral zone and broke toward Crawford with Blackhawks left winger Bryan Bickell in pursuit. Bickell continually tried jabbing the puck loose from behind before Cizikas deked Crawford and buried the puck into the left corner of the net.

The score energized the Islanders, who dominated offensively for most of the second period before extending the lead to 2-0 with Vanek’s putback goal at the 8:09 mark. The goal was set up by a slapshot by defenseman Andrew MacDonald and an initial rebound attempt by Okposo.

The Blackhawks pulled within one on a power-play goal with 1:24 left. Seventy seconds after Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner was whistled for tripping, Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook’s slapshot sailed over Nabokov’s right shoulder. Seabrook fired the shot with such force that he fell over as the puck went into the net.

Chicago killed off a penalty of its own to end the second and begin the third and tied the game 15 seconds after 5-on-5 play resumed, when Smith capped a furious flurry in the Islanders’ goalmouth. Left winger Patrick Sharp began the sequence by nearly scoring on a wraparound. The puck bounced in the goalmouth, and Toews tried poking it in before Smith finally got the puck past Nabokov.

The Islanders had multiple chances to take the lead in the third period. Crawford stopped center John Tavares at point-blank range, center Ryan Strome and right winger Colin McDonald failed to bury putbacks and Tavares’ shot off a nifty no-look pass from Okposo skittered along the goal mouth.

A boarding penalty on Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw with 6:47 left put the Islanders on the power play, but Tavares could not put back a shot by Okposo.

The Blackhawks nearly took the lead as the power play expired when left winger Brandon Saad stole the puck in the Islanders’ zone and raced in on the breakaway, but his shot was wide of the net.

In the final two minutes, Crawford turned Okposo away from point-blank range before Islanders right winger Michael Grabner’s shot glanced off Crawford’s glove and center Frans Nielsen fired a shot off Crawford’s pads.


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