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NHL: Red-hot Bruins extend losing ways for ice-cold Minnesota

By Jess Myers Sports Xchange ST. PAUL -- Center David Krejci had a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins won for the fourth time in their last five games, beating the reeling Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Saturday. Left winger Brad Marchand added his 1...

By Jess Myers

Sports Xchange

ST. PAUL - Center David Krejci had a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins won for the fourth time in their last five games, beating the reeling Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Saturday.

Left winger Brad Marchand added his 12th goal in the past 12 games, right winger Loui Eriksson scored a third period insurance goal and defenseman Zdeno Chara notched an empty net goal for the Bruins (30-19-6) who got 31 saves from goaltender Jonas Gustavsson in the victory.

It was the seventh consecutive loss for Minnesota, which is still searching for its first home win of 2016. The Wild (23-22-10) got a goals from left winger Thomas Vanek and rookie defenseman Mike Reilly along with 15 saves from goalie Darcy Kuemper, but fell to 1-11-2 in their past 14 games.

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With the loss, Minnesota tied a franchise record for eight consecutive home games without a victory (0-5-3), a mark that was set in 2001 when the Wild were a first-year expansion team. They last won at home on Dec. 28.

The Bruins took two early penalties, killing the first one and scoring shorthanded on the second one. Marchand carried the puck into the Minnesota zone and passed off to Krejci, then cut to the net. Krejci’s return pass found its way through a crowd to Marchand at the left of the net, where he needed only to tap the puck in, with Kuemper still hugging the right post. It was Marchand’s 19th career shorthanded goal, which is the most by any NHLer in the past six years.

Minnesota tied the game in the second period when Vanek took advantage of a loose puck behind the Boston net. Gustavsson had left the crease to play the puck, and Vanek gained control on a Boston turnover. The goalie was sliding back into position when Vanek was able to jam a shot under Gustavsson’s left leg pad. It was the first goal in more than a month for Vanek, who was recently a healthy scratch by the Wild in hopes of sparking his offense.

But the Wild’s momentum was gone just 35 seconds later when Krejci scored off a rush to the net, taking a cross-ice pass from right winger David Pastrnak and popping a low shot off Wild right winger Nino Niederreiter and over the line. Niederreiter was sliding in an attempt to block the shot, and only to have the puck carom off his chest and over the line. Niederreiter’s momentum knocked the net off the moorings, but replay confirmed it was a good goal.

Eriksson scored on a breakaway seven minutes into the final period. Minnesota had dominated offensively to that point, pressing to tie the game, but a turnover at the far blue line sprung Eriksson, who chased down the puck and tucked a backhand shot between Kuemper’s knees.

After Chara’s empty-netter made it 4-1, Reilly got his first career goal with a wrist shot from the high slot with 36.7 seconds left. The former University of Minnesota star was playing in his seventh NHL game.

Boston was playing without center Patrice Bergeron, the team’s leading scorer, who was scratched with an undisclosed ailment. Bergeron fought Winnipeg Jets right winger Blake Wheeler in the Bruins’ 6-2 road win on Thursday and was limited to 14 minutes in that game.

NOTES: With C Patrice Bergeron sidelined on Saturday, the Bruins recalled C Joonas Kemppainen from their Providence AHL team. Kemppainen last played for Boston in a Jan. 26 home game against the Anaheim Ducks, before being sent to the minors. ... It was below zero in the Twin Cities on Saturday morning, but the early forecast for next week when the NHL Stadium Series comes to Minnesota is looking warmer. Weather watchers predict cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 30s or low 40s next Sunday when the Wild host the Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

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