Following what can only be understated as an emotional week, the Boston Bruins take to the road on Tuesday night as they resume their quest for a Northeast Division title versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
It hasn't been about hockey lately for the Bruins ever since last Monday's tragic events at the Boston Marathon, where a pair of explosions killed three people and injured over 200 more. Boston postponed its scheduled contest versus the Ottawa Senators that night and, following a loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, had their Friday night meeting with the Pittsburgh Penguins pushed back to Saturday afternoon due to the city-wide lockdown during the hunt for the second alleged bomber.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was arrested on Friday night and has been charged with the use of a weapon of mass destruction and the malicious destruction of property resulting in death.
With the city of Boston breathing a sigh of relief following the capture of Tsarnaev, which came less than 24 hours after his older brother and other alleged bomber, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed during a getaway attempt from police, the Bruins were defeated 3-2 by the Penguins in an emotional contest on Saturday.
That was Boston's season-high fourth straight loss, but the club capped its shortened three-game homestand with a 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday. The win moved the Bruins into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division with 59 points.
The Bruins have four games left on their schedule compared to three for the Canadiens, who visit the New Jersey Devils tonight.
Tuukka Rask made 28 saves versus the Panthers for his fourth shutout of the season and 15th of his career. The netminder had been unhappy with his play in the loss to the Penguins.
"I like getting shutouts obviously but I think it was a tight game and they had some chances," Rask said of the Panthers. "I'm more happy I didn't let in a goal that let them back into the game. That hasn't always been the case for me, even this year, so that's something to take from this game and build on."
Jaromir Jagr, Dougie Hamilton and Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins, who following the victory gave their game-worn sweaters to first responders of last Monday's bombings as well as law enforcement personnel from Friday's manhunt.
"(The) postgame was really special," said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference. "More positive feelings for everybody and today I think was another step."
Boston will return home to host Tampa Bay on Thursday before making a trip to Washington on Saturday. The Bruins then head back to Boston the following day for their make up game with the Sens.
The Flyers, who will miss the postseason for only the second time in the past 18 seasons, will wear special edition jerseys with a "Boston Strong" patch on their uniforms and decals on their helmets.
Philadelphia has won three of its last four, but Friday's win by the New York Rangers officially eliminated the franchise from the postseason race. The following day, the Flyers picked up a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Wayne Simmonds notched the first hat trick of his career and added an assist, while Matt Read had a goal and two helpers. Jakub Voracek netted his career- high 20th goal of the season and Steve Mason ended with 26 saves.
"Obviously I felt pretty good out there tonight," said Simmonds. "Everyone played real strong for us tonight and we played a full 60 minutes. We're professional athletes and we're going to finish this season strong."
The Flyers will host the Islanders on Thursday before ending the season on Saturday in Ottawa.
The Bruins had won four straight over the Flyers before suffering a 3-1 setback in Philadelphia on March 30. That win was the Flyers' first in their last six at home versus Boston.