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Birthday boy McAvoy sends Bruins past Jets in shootout

BOSTON — Tuukka Rask’s wire-to-wire dominance helped to ensure that Charlie McAvoy’s 20th birthday had a happy ending.
Winnipeg Jets’ Patrik Laine, of Finland, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. The Bruins won 2-1 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON — Tuukka Rask’s wire-to-wire dominance helped to ensure that Charlie McAvoy’s 20th birthday had a happy ending.

Rask was nearly impenetrable for over 65 minutes before McAvoy scored the decisive goal in the shootout for Boston as the Bruins beat the Jets 2-1 on Thursday night.

“A cherry on top of a great effort by our team,” McAvoy said after he improved to 2-for-2 lifetime in shootouts.

After Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers’ first attempt of the sudden-death portion of the shootout clanged off the post, McAvoy took the puck and meandered up the ice before tucking his shot past Connor Hellebuyck.

“I saw some room on the blocker side and I just wanted to shoot it there before he was able to recover,” McAvoy said of his winning goal.

Rask made 37 saves and recorded a point for his eighth straight game (7-0-1) as the Bruins beat the Jets for the fourth straight meeting.

It was the first shootout victory for Rask in four tries since Nov. 3, 2016 against Tampa Bay.

“Whenever the (Winnipeg) breakouts happen, then the quality chances I guess happen too and become dangerous, so it happened a few times today, but we battled through and survived,” Rask said.

Torey Krug scored his sixth goal of the season for Boston (18-10-5), which won its third straight game and sixth of its last eight.

Patrik Laine scored his team-leading 18th goal for the Jets. Hellebuyck had 32 saves.

“We had some good chances to score before my goal but (Hellebuyck) was good tonight and it was hard to get the puck past him,” Laine said.

Winnipeg (20-10-6) had its two-game winning streak snapped. The Jets have only won once in Boston since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.

Two goals less than a minute apart midway in the third period accounted for the only action through 65 minutes.

Rask and Hellebuyck matched each other before Krug’s wrister from the point beat Hellebuyck glove-side with 11:44 remaining.

Laine answered just 57 seconds later, rifling a wrist shot past an out-of-position Rask off a feed from Ehlers.

“It’s a grinder and no fun to play (in) and we did a good job of staying in that (game),” Jets coach Paul Maurice said.

NOTES: Boston C David Krejci (upper body) was placed on injured reserve Thursday before missing his third straight game. … Bruins LW Brad Marchand, C Riley Nash and C Ryan Spooner didn’t participate in the morning skate because of illness and were game-time decisions. Marchand played while Nash and Spooner sat. Rask revealed after the game that he was also sick, but did not consider sitting out. … Mariner coached his 1,401st NHL game, tying him with Ron Wilson for eighth-most in league history. … Boston recalled 22-year-old C Colby Cave on an emergency basis before the game. Cave received an interference penalty 1:11 into his NHL debut. … Bruins D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula) could return Saturday after missing 27 games. … Jets captain and RW Blake Wheeler spent his first two-plus NHL seasons with Boston. … Hellebuyck played in college at nearby UMass-Lowell.


Jets: At the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Bruins: Host Detroit on Saturday.