The Boston Bruins face the prospect of a daunting home-and-home without their starting goalie as they welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
After the game, Boston will travel to Pittsburgh for a rematch Sunday afternoon. While the Bruins are off between meetings, the Penguins will face the Red Wings in Detroit on Friday before returning home for Sunday's matinee.
The Bruins enter Thursday's contest with goalie Tuukka Rask on the mend after he exited a 3-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday just 1:12 into the game with a concussion. As of Wednesday night, the team had yet to offer an update on Rask, who has a history of concussions.
"He'll probably go into the protocol -- at least that's what I was told," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy after the game. "Maybe it's not as bad as they first thought. I guess we'll have a better evaluation."
Rask sustained the injury upon being struck in the head by the glove or forearm of Columbus' Emil Bemstrom and was replaced in the contest by Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced. Boston players said postgame they initially didn't realize Rask had been hit, and when they attempted to retaliate against Bemstrom, the rookie refused to drop the gloves.
"You can't take the law into your own hands," Cassidy said. "You can certainly address it with the player on the ice if you felt it was inappropriate. I think some of our guys did that. But we had to get back to playing."
On the offensive side, Boston was shut out for the first time this season as it dropped its second straight following a shootout defeat in Philadelphia on Monday. In the aftermath, the Bruins on Wednesday placed forward Brett Ritchie (two goals, four assists in 27 games) on waivers for the purpose of assignment to American Hockey League affiliate Providence.
The Penguins enter Thursday night's matchup riding a four-game winning streak. Things undoubtedly went much better for them Tuesday as they crushed the Minnesota Wild 7-3.
The game saw the return of captain Sidney Crosby to the lineup after the star center had been out since Nov. 9 due to a core muscle injury. Crosby made sure his presence was felt with a goal and three assists.
"Every player is important here in the locker room, but Sid is the captain," said teammate Evgeni Malkin, who added two goals and an assist. "He is our leader, a great player, great teammate. You see tonight, we play so much better. We have four great lines. The power play is better. We're glad he's back."
Coach Mike Sullivan concurred.
"It's hard to get surprised by what Sid accomplishes on the ice," Sullivan said. "When you watch what he's been able to do, and certainly in my time here, it's just hard to get surprised. He's just so capable."
Crosby was kept off the score sheet when the Bruins beat the Penguins 6-4 in their first meeting earlier this season in Boston. Brad Marchand had two goals and three assists in the contest, and Halak stopped 40 shots in net.
--Field Level Media