Bruins look to build momentum after shootout loss

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Bruins look to build momentum after shootout loss

BUFFALO It wasnt quite back-to-back wins, but the Bruins that are suiting up and skating each game in Black and Gold sweaters are starting to look a little more familiar.

The Bs crew took points in consecutive games for the first time in a month and continued to build momentum with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres that could have gone either way at the First Niagara Center.

It had been a while since wed strung together two good 60-minute games. We had a good effort in St. Louis and our goal is to build momentum, said Gregory Campbell. We wanted to play a solid game against a desperate team. With 20 games left you play desperate teams and close games, and were finding our game slowly but surely. We just have to build on that.

Shootout scores from Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy were the difference-makers in a decision that dropped the Bruins to 7-2 in the shootout this season, but there werent many Bruins hanging their heads afterward.

Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in a return to form and Zdeno Chara had his second consecutive strong game after going through a two-weekdown period. Chara saved the game in overtime by sweeping a Thomas Vanek shot away from the open net, and potted the game-tying score in the third period for his ninth goal of the season.

The fourth line created the energy to start the third period that helped push the Bruins into overtime and earned a power play that led into Charas score shortly after the man advantage had expired.

The offense still wasnt moving as fluidly for the Bruins as it did during the salad days of November and December, but it was ably supported by the familiar Bs formula of grinding defense and timely goaltending.

It was a game that with a matter of luck it could have been on our side. It was a good, close game, said Chara. It was a good effort. We competed, we battled hard and it was a really close game.

Both teams played well, both goalies made big saves and it was just too bad we couldnt get the extra point in the shootout.

Even more than the defense and the goalie play, the Bruins were pleased with a second straight game that saw them finish up strong with a third period effort they could be proud of. The Bs out-shot the Sabres by a 15-5 margin while tying up the game and forcing overtime, and seemed to be walking on familiar footing headed into the overtime session on a power play.

Its a far cry from the recent four-game stretch where they were outscored 5-1 in the third period and looked like they were lacking their normal skating legs.

The first two periods I thought were pretty even. But I thought in the third period we came out, went after the goal to tie it up and we were the better team in the third period, said Julien. Im definitely happy with the way weve been coming out in the third the last couple of games.

The Bruins couldnt close the deal in OT or during the shootout, but it was an effort they could discuss with their heads cast upward.

They hadnt been able to do that in two straight games in a long, long time and the Bruins are taking that as a sign of good things to come.

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.