BOSTON - The Bruins are in the final stretch of the regular season.
Saturday's matchup against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden provided another opportunity to get two important points, as the push for the postseason continues.
The entire 60 minutes might not have been perfectly executed, but the Black & Gold finished strong at the end to pick up a 5-2 victory over the Panthers.
Noel Acciari scored his second NHL goal, Brad Marchand scored his 39th goal of the season, Patrice Bergeron notched two goals to reach the 20-goal mark, and David Krejci scored the game-winner. Tuukka Rask made 24 saves, including 13 in the third period.
Video: FLA@BOS: Acciari beats Berra five-hole on a breakaway
With four games now left in the season, the Bruins have 90 points and jumped Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Maple Leafs (89 points, 76 games played) face off against Detroit on Saturday night, with the Tampa Bay Lightning (85 points, 76 games played) facing the Montreal Canadiens. Ottawa, one point ahead of Boston, plays the Winnipeg Jets.
While the scoreboard watching continues, the Bruins will be resting in Chicago on Saturday night before a Sunday matinee against the Blackhawks at the United Center (12:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
The game is a quick turnaround from Saturday's tilt at TD Garden - but a four-game win streak certainly gives the Black & Gold a level of confidence heading into Chicago, especially after rebounding from a four-game losing streak last week.
"You want to build confidence this time of the year. We hit a low - it was well documented last week," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. "I think we played some good hockey during those losses. "We kind of gutted it out defensively the last three or four games and kept it out of our net and made a conscious effort to do that."
"There's still some things obviously we want to build into our game where we're better defensively and that's generally started with the puck, our decision and our execution. But we're going to carry it on the road, and we're back home next week so with the schedule the way it is."
After the quick trip to Chicago for a national TV showdown with the Hawks, the Bruins will host Tampa Bay, Ottawa, and Washington in the final three games of the season.
"It's nice to have these home games in our back pocket because as of late we've played well here and the guys are confident here, so that's a good thing."
The Black & Gold won't want it to come down to the wire. As long as they keep getting the two points each game, they'll take care of business.
"You've got to keep winning," said Torey Krug. "The other teams are going to continue to win. If we keep doing this, then we don't have to look at the standings and look for help elsewhere. So, we just need to focus on ourselves and continue to play our game, and keep looking to make improvements."
Video: Cassidy speaks to media after 5-2 win over Panthers
Acciari Making His Mark
Acciari has made his presence felt in the seven games since he was called up from the Providence Bruins.
The forward notched his second career goal on Saturday with a breakaway tally that gave Boston a 1-0 lead. He blocked a shot and then raced up ice, drew a penalty shot, and sent the puck five-hole on Panthers netminder Reto Berra.
Acciari scored his first NHL goal against Nashville two games ago in his 43rd NHL game.
"It definitely felt good," Acciari said of goal No. 2. "Made sure the first one wasn't a fluke, but I like how our line's playing right now, and we're going to continue."
Acciari, Dominic Moore, and Riley Nash have been firing on all cylinders as a line - and Acciari never shies away from throwing his body around, landing hard, clean hits on his opponents.
"I mean, playing a heavy game is part of my game, and our line, and we're going to continue to do that and open up space for each other," said Acciari. and we're going to capitalize when we can, and it's working really well right now."
Khudobin to Start in Chicago
After starting three straight games, Tuukka Rask will get the day off on Sunday in Chicago, with Anton Khudobin getting the start between the pipes.
Cassidy confirmed following Saturday's game that Khudobin would start. Rask will serve as the backup.
"The rest is a big factor at this point in the year," said Rask. "Dobby is going to step up [on Sunday] and play a great game against Chicago."
Hayes Out with Lower-Body Injury
Jimmy Hayes left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury and did not return.
When Cassidy was asked if a player would be called up from Providence for the trip to Chicago, he responded, "It looks that way."
"Jimmy has a lower body injury - I don't know the extent of where he will be [on Sunday] but right now he's questionable - day-to-day I'd put it at, and we'll see after we get a further medical report," said Cassidy. "So we'll be looking at [calling up] someone for sure. I can't tell you who it will be. We'll have those discussions right now."
Vatrano, Schaller Not Making Trip
The Bruins have to make a recall because they currently have no extra forwards, with Frank Vatrano (upper body) and Tim Schaller (upper body) not traveling to Chicago.
Both forwards are day-to-day with their respective injuries. Schaller is inching closer, as he has been skating with the team, but neither players are available for Sunday's game.
Chicago always presents a tough test, and at this point in the season, the Bruins can expect a battle.
The Blackhawks have already clinched their spot in the playoffs and sit at the top of the Central Division with 107 points. They have won two straight games.
"Yeah, it's a big time matchup," said Krug. "Every year, we play them late in the year on Sunday afternoon, and it's a fun game to play in. They're one of the best in the league. It's a good measuring stick to see where we are at - but we're going to come in there with only two points on our mind."
Projected Lineup vs. Chicago
With a callup likely in the mix, the best indication of the Bruins' lines against Chicago will come during warmups at the United Center around noon ET on Sunday (live updates available on Twitter @NHLBruins). Cassidy will be addressing media at approximately 10:20 a.m. local time (11:20 a.m. ET).