Lucic and Ference 'questionable'; Stuart 'ready'


Lucic and Ference 'questionable'; Stuart 'ready'

By Danny Picard

WILMINGTON -- Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference were not present at Bruins practice on Friday afternoon at Ristuccia Arena, but Mark Stuart was back skating with the team after participating in Thursday's morning skate.

Lucic has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, and coach Claude Julien said after Friday's practice that he's "day-to-day" after skating prior to the team's practice session.

Julien said Lucic is "questionable" for Saturday afternoon's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the TD Garden, but after that is expecting some good news because the power forward is "progressing well," according to the Bruins' coach.

Ference never returned for the third period of Thursday night's game against the Flyers, and he is also questionable for Saturday. Julien said the defenseman was dealing with an "upper body" injury and is "day-to-day."

"Ference is very questionable for Saturday, but after that, we're hoping it's minor enough that we'll see him back soon," said Julien after Friday's practice.

"Lucic is obviously another guy who's going to be questionable for Saturday, but I think after that we can expect hopefully some good news, because he's progressing well," said the B's coach.

Emergency call-up Matt Bartkowski was one of seven defensemen at Friday's practice, with Stuart (hand) being a full participant.

Julien said after practice that Stuart still hasn't been cleared to play, medically.

"He's been cleared to practice, but he hasn't been medically cleared to play," said Julien. "So it's certainly not my decision right now, as we speak."

Stuart, whose latest hand x-rays showed his fractured finger to be "progressing really well," said that he didn't have any restrictions on Friday, and that his hand has healed enough to play in a game.

"I believe it is, but that's not up to me," said Stuart.

"That's Stuey being Stuey," said Julien. "He'd play with a broken arm if you let him. That's the kind of person he is . . . That's just a player who's anxious to want to get back. But we respect him for that, because that's the kind of guy he is. He'll do whatever it takes to play, and then to be a part of this team."

Blake Wheeler hit the ice in pain midway through Friday's practice, forcing the Bruins' medical staff to run over with towels, as Wheeler held his face.

He said after the practice that he took a Daniel Paille wrist shot off the cheek bone.

"It crippled me pretty quick,' said Wheeler. "Now I know what it's like to be a boxer."

There was no blood after the fact, making his "hitting the deck" practice act a little embellished.

Teammate David Krejci gave Wheeler a hard time after practice, and told Wheeler to show the media a small, red welt on his stomach, while poking fun at his reaction to getting the wind knocked out of him earlier in the week.

"You'll probably be a game-time decision for Saturday," joked Krejci.

Here's how the practice roster looked on Friday:

Ryder -- Savard -- HortonWheeler -- Krejci --SeguinMarchand -- Bergeron -- RecchiPaille -- Campbell -- ThorntonChara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, Stuart, Kampfer, McQuaid, and Bartkowski on the blue line.Thomas -- Rask

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals didn't exactly end their overtime victory with a raucous celebration.

No, instead Washington held a players-only meeting, still salty over blowing a three-goal lead.

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 to avert a disastrous defeat Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3-3.

Backstrom saved the day, but not the Capitals from feeling uneasy.

"In the second and third period they outplayed," Backstrom said. "We were lucky that we came up with two points. We're not satisfied at all. We're happy with the two points, but not the way we played."

The locker room remained closed for approximately 15 minutes after the win, Washington's second in a row after losing three straight.

"We had a little talking here," said T.J. Oshie, who returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Nov. 18. "There are some things we've got to clean up. I think it's more of a mentality more than it is the systems or anything like that. ... Once we get a step up on someone, we have to get that mentality that we're going to finish them off."

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night. The Bruins outshot Washington 34-20.

"Hell of an effort. We got a big point for us. To comeback from 3-0 against Washington, it's not that easy," Pastrnak said. "Too bad we couldn't get the two points, but in this case the one point is huge for us."

Backstrom patiently waited on the right side before firing the winner past goaltender Tuukka Rask, who entered second in the league with a 1.68 goals-against average. Rask allowed three goals in his previous outing, too.

Williams had two goals over the first 24 games this season, but he matched that total less than eight minutes in against the Bruins. He redirected Kuznetsov's lofted centering pass past Rask for a 1-0 lead just 23 seconds into the first period.

"To be honest it's nice to see the puck go in the net," Williams said. "I've been pressing and working hard. Hopefully this can springboard me to some more production."

Matt Niskanen left with an upper-body injury and did not return. With the Caps down a defenseman, Boston outshot Washington 11-2 in the second period.

"In the second period, we just sort of sat back," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "It's hard to protect leads in the league."

The Capitals' second goal also occurred in front of the net. Williams emerged from a scramble with a shot that slithered under Rask.

NOTES: With his 673rd career win, Trotz passed Mike Keenan (672) for eighth place on the NHL's career wins list. ... Williams' first goal was the fastest for Washington since 2012. ... Boston assigned F Noel Acciari to the Providence Bruins two days after the 24-year forward returned to practice. Acciari injured his right leg on Nov. 7. ... Holtby improved to 10-2 career against the Bruins. His first career win came in relief against Boston in November 2010. ... The three-game season series resumes Feb. 1 in Washington.


Bruins: Host Colorado on Thursday night.

Capitals: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.