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Bruins Head Into Bye Week on a High

Boston has won three straight as it heads into five-day break

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - The Bruins wouldn't mind playing a few games this week. Boston is on a roll, having won three straight and six of its last eight.

During that stretch, they have potted 34 goals - a mark of 4.25 goals per game - and have jumped back into the playoff picture with a three-point lead for the final spot in the Atlantic Division.

Unfortunately, the Bruins do not control the schedule. Their CBA-mandated bye week has arrived, meaning the Black & Gold will be away from the rink until Saturday, when they travel to San Jose for the start of a nine-day, four-game road trip out West.

The team is not allowed to practice or hold any team activities, meaning the players are free to do as they please. Some are headed away from the snow to warmer climates, while others will enjoy the rest and relaxation at home.

"We'll take it. It's our break, so yeah, I think it's good," said Adam McQuaid, who scored the Bruins first goal in their 4-0 win over Montreal Sunday night.

"I think maybe when you're stringing together a few wins, you might want to keep playing, but we get a little break, just [have to] come back with the same mindset."

Video: Rask, Bruins blank Canadiens, 4-0

Boston is 3-0-0 since Bruce Cassidy took over as interim head coach and appears to be building confidence as the stretch run approaches.

"I think we've found that groove now," said Tuukka Rask. "We're kind of making plays for the most part, at least in the offensive zone. We're kind of moving as a unit up the ice and down the ice. So, that's great to see.

"We're skating hard and that's something we need to continue to do. Butchy addressed that. We were going to practice with pace and we were going to keep the pace going so we could translate to games, and it paid off the last three games."

The Bruins will certainly take the rest, having played a league-high 58 games to this point, but they know when they return Saturday for the flight to San Jose, they must take the momentum they have accrued with them.

"It's easy if we're playing two days from now," said David Backes. "But, it's something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we're doing, make sure we're moving on the break and not just sitting idle and getting rusty.

"Make sure that, mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. Again, it's something that doesn't show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that's winning culture and that's what we're building."

Rask, Bruins Break Through Against Habs

Rask made 25 saves against Montreal for his sixth shutout of the season and the 36th of his career. The shutout moved him into second place on the Bruins all-time list, just ahead of Frank Brimsek. It was Rask's first shutout against Montreal since Feb. 7, 2010 and the first time the netminder has beaten the Habs at home in his career.

"I wouldn't call it a statement," said Rask. "I think we played a great game overall. It was a back-to-back situation for both teams. Even though they might have outplayed us just a little bit in the first, we still had the lead and we extended it greatly on two nice power play goals. So, it was a great game."

Video: MTL@BOS: Rask denies Galchenyuk's one-timer in 1st

The victory snapped the Bruins 0-7-2 stretch against Montreal at home. Boston has also won three straight overall at TD Garden, bringing their home record to 15-13-0 this season.

"I'm aware of the rivalry, I know all the players in the room are as well," said Cassidy. "It's been a while here in this building - we talked about this. We want to re-establish our presence in this building, make it difficult to come here and take points out."

Cehlarik Impresses

Forward Peter Cehlarik made his NHL debut this week, playing in two games, against the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens. The 21-year-old winger notched his first two career points with two assists against the Habs on Sunday night.

Cehlarik found McQuaid breaking back door on the Bruins' first goal and later made a slick touch pass to David Backes, who found David Krejci for a power-play tally late in the second. The Slovakia native skated on the left wing alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak and also played on the second power-play unit.

"He has the hockey IQ and the hands, big enough body guy," said Cassidy. "You just don't know when they come up - if they can handle the pace, the pressure, time and space issues. So far, so good."

Video: MTL@BOS: McQuaid buries a one-timer from Cehlarik

The Bruins 2013 third-round pick, who is the ninth Bruin to make his NHL debut this season, has quickly gained the trust of Krejci and Pastrnak.

"It's good for him, obviously very happy," said Krejci, who had a goal and assist against Montreal and has eight points (three goals, five assists) over his last six games.

"He's been playing really well…he makes lots of good plays out there. It's fun to play with him."

"I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to play with those kind of players that I play with," added Cehlarik. "I want to make it count and I want to fit there. So I think we're playing pretty well, hopefully we are going to keep going."

The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder was assigned to Providence on Monday morning. He is pacing the P-Bruins with a team-leading 18 goals this season.

Odds and Ends

  • The Bruins power play has been immense of late. Boston went just 1 for 7 against Montreal, but their one tally gave them man-up goals in eight straight games. Over the last 18 games, Boston is 20 of 63 (31.7%) and has moved up to 14th in the league.
  • David Pastrnak had an assist against Montreal, extending his point streak to five games (five goals, five assists). He has a 6-9-15 line over his last nine games.
  • Brad Marchand's helper against the Habs gave him seven goals and six assists over his last eight games. He has 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) over his last 18 contests and sits fifth in the league in scoring this season (24 goals, 34 assists).
  • Frank Vatrano has goals in back-to-back games and four points overall during his last two contests.
  • The Boston-Montreal rivalry was on full display Sunday. Torey Krug fought Andrew Shaw just 58 seconds into the game and Kevan Miller and Michael McCarron dropped the gloves with 2:37 remaining in the third.

Video: Backes "crushes" postgame interview

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