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Need to Know: Bruins at Panthers

McIntyre recalled; Backes 'hopeful' for return

by Christopher Weyant @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BostonBruins.com - The recipe for success was there for a Bruins team desperate for two points against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. Unfortunately, the result was not.

A few defensive breakdowns cost the B's as they dropped a 4-3 contest to a young and high-octane Oilers team. Despite taking the play to Edmonton for better parts of the game and ringing four goal posts, the Bruins came away with no points for the second straight game.

"A wasted good effort, because I thought we played hard, we played well, we had lots of chances, and we didn't give them much," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

"Every breakdown we seemed to have ended up in the back of our net. Those are frustrating nights; they're frustrating losses, especially when you need to win."

Boston will attempt to right the ship on Saturday down south against the Florida Panthers.

Saturday night's game will mark the fourth and final meeting between the Bruins and Panthers this season. The B's have won the first three contests by an aggregate score of 9-5.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Here is what you need to know:

McIntyre Recalled; Backes 'Hopeful'

The Bruins (20-17-4, 44 points) have embarked on a four-game road trip beginning on Saturday. The trip will feature games in Florida, Carolina, St. Louis, and Nashville. They know results are a necessity in order to stay afloat in the tight Atlantic Division standings.

Zane McIntyre, who has been lighting it up in the American Hockey League with a 10-0-0 record, a 1.41 goals against average, and a .951 save percentage, was recalled from the Providence Bruins Friday morning. Goaltender Anton Khudobin was assigned to Providence to make room for McIntyre.

McIntyre's 9-0-0 record in the month of December earned him the nod as CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month.

Bruins fans caught a glimpse of McIntyre earlier this season, when he started games against the Rangers and Canadiens. Though both were losing efforts, McIntyre gained valuable experience that he believes helped him improve in the AHL.

"Obviously, the time up here, I think, helped," said McIntyre. "Getting the experience, seeing those shots day in and day out, maybe slowed down the play in a sense."

McIntyre could potentially see game action during one of the Bruins back-to-back games against Florida and Carolina this weekend, although Julien said he had not yet decided on how he will deploy his goaltenders.

Rugged forward David Backes is hoping to return from a concussion he sustained on December 29 at Buffalo, which has kept him out of the lineup the past three games.

"I'm not going to make any declaration," said Backes of his status for Saturday's game. "But, I'm better than I was yesterday and I was pretty good yesterday. So, I'm very hopeful that I'll be back in the lineup."

Julien joked that Backes had as "good [of] a test as he'll get" in practice, when the 6-foot-3, 221-punt Backes and 6-foot-4, 212-pound Adam McQuaid collided in the neutral zone during a practice drill working on entries. The only result of the collision was some snow on their jerseys and pants, and smiles exchanged. 

 

"That's a good a test as he'll get," Julien smiled. "Finished the practice. That's a good sign." 

 

"Well, I did my quick self-body assessment and I felt like I was fine and then I worry about Quaider as it's a couple of big bodies, and when he tells me he's OK, we can put that behind us," Backes smiled after practice. "Things like that happen. No injury on the play, so - both said our prayers last night, and we'll be fine moving forward."

 

Reporters caught Backes slamming his stick on the bench after the drill. 
 

"Well, that was just frustration over the whole: run into him, lose an edge, and then we don't make a play going in six times, so it was just kind of - I probably owe money to the training staff after that one, but it was a good release of frustration at the moment," Backes smiled.

Acciari Assigned, Liles Getting Close

Forward Noel Acciari was assigned to Providence on Friday afternoon, while Matt Beleskey and John-Michael Liles continue to rehab from injuries.

Beleskey, who suffered a left knee injury on December 3 in Buffalo, has missed the last 16 games. Liles, who sustained a concussion on November 27 at TD Garden when crashing into the end boards, has missed the previous 19 games.

"He's doing well," Julien said of Liles."I think he feels good enough now that we'll probably have to make a decision on him some time soon."

Opposing View: Florida Panthers

The Panthers (16-15-8, 40 points) have been bit of the bad luck bug as of late, losing four of their last five games. However, with three of those losses coming in overtime or shootouts, they have registered a point per game in that span.

Jonathan Marchessault has been a pleasant surprise for the Panthers, collecting 24 points (11 goals and 13 assists) in 32 games. The mark is good for second place on the team, trailing only Aleksander Barkov, who has 27 (9 goals and 18 assists).

Marchessault is tied with future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, who also has tallied 24 points (seven goals and 17 assists) on the season. The 44-year-old right winger has shown no sign of slowing down.

The last time the Bruins saw Jagr, on December 22, he registered his 1,888th NHL point with an assist in a 3-1 Bruins victory in Florida, passing Mark Messier for second on the NHL all-time points list.

Barring a postseason encounter, this will be the Bruins last matchup with old friend Shawn Thornton. Thornton, who is retiring after the season, has registered an assist in 15 games this season. The 14-year NHL veteran spent seven seasons in Boston, serving as a key cog on the "Merlot Line" for the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion team.

Having lost eight games in overtime or shootouts, the Panthers are a team that stays competitive in almost every game. The Bruins know they need a strong effort against a team trailing them by only four points with two games in hand.

The Panthers are 26th in scoring (2.31 goals per game) and 14th in goals allowed (2.64 per game). They boast the seventh-best penalty kill in the league (84.3%).

Wait, There's More

  • The Bruins honored Legend Milt Schmidt prior to Thursday night's game. Schmidt passed away on Wednesday at the age of 98.
  • The Bruins will wear a commemorative Milt Schmidt patch on their jerseys for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
  • Tonight will mark the 91st career meeting between the Bruins and the Panthers. The B's hold a 49-30-6-5 series advantage.
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