The regular season has slowed to a crawl for the Bruins; luckily they only have two more games left, both against teams not going to the postseason, so there is no pressure. For the second straight game, Boston (53-18-9) let a late lead slip away as Winnipeg (36-35-10) tied it at 18:03 of the third period on Evander Kane’s goal. After a scoreless overtime, Bryan Little had the lone strike as the Jets sent everyone at the MTS Centre home happy one last time in 2013-14 with a 2-1 win.
Despite the shootout loss, the B’s inched closer to the Presidents’ Trophy as another unlikely contender emerged in the Western Conference. Anaheim has 112 points, three behind Boston but one ahead of St. Louis who lost again (4-2 at Minnesota). It was a backup goaltender kind of night as former Providence Bruin Michael Hutchinson (32 saves) picked up his first NHL win and Chad Johnson (36 saves) kept Boston in it for maybe longer than they deserved.
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Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead halfway through the first period after a nifty indirect pass by Reilly Smith off the kick plate (back boards). There really wasn’t anything else notable that happened until Kane’s goal. Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron got the night off for rest while Chris Kelly was out with back spasms. Boston appeared to lose motivation in the third period as Winnipeg outshot them 15-10. Kane’s goal was ironic since he’s been a healthy scratch lately after a disappointing season and he hit the post earlier in the game.
Mercifully, the B’s wrap up their home schedule on Saturday (12:30 p.m., NESN) vs. Buffalo (21-50-9) at TD Garden. The team will do its annual shirt off their backs promotion with all the players giving away their game-worn jerseys to fans. The regular season concludes on Sunday (3, NESN) in New Jersey (34-29-17).
What they'll be saying: You have to feel for Jets fans; they haven’t experienced playoff hockey in the last three years since the team was moved there from Atlanta. If you’re keeping score at home, the franchise hasn’t been in the postseason for the last seven seasons. Ouch.
It’s time to revise your Blake Wheeler jokes; he was traded from Boston in 2011 to Atlanta (for Rich Peverley) along with Mark Stuart. Wheeler leads Winnipeg in goals (27), assists (41) and points. As much as Bruins fans don’t want to admit it, he’s become a very solid player. After all, there is a reason that he made Team USA in Sochi. He created Kane’s goal by collecting the puck in his own end and blowing through the neutral zone before dropping it back to Kane. Wheeler turns 28 in August so he is probably entering the prime of his career.
Hutchinson never really got a chance in Boston because of their logjam in goal but Winnipeg might be the spot where he gets his big break. The third round pick of Boston in 2008 (77th overall) is only 24 so don’t be surprised if he at least wins the backup job next season with the Jets.
Corey Potter was the other healthy scratch for the Bruins but expect to see plenty of him this weekend. It should be his last game(s) of the season barring some catastrophic injuries to Boston’s defensemen in the playoffs.
Krejci’s team-leading 50th assist of the season is also the second most of his career. He had 51 assists in 2008-09 which was also his most points for a campaign (72).
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate