Erik Karlsson’s absence because of injury hasn’t stymied Sharks’ success

That has been obvious for a while, but the extent of their excellence was underscored twice in the past week. First: The Lightning became the first team to clinch a playoff berth, locking up a spot Friday. Second: the Boston Bruins earned standings points in 19 straight games (15-0-4) before losing in regulation at Pittsburgh on Sunday but gained only two points on the Lightning during that streak because Tampa Bay was 15-3-2 in the same time period. Lightning winger and NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov broke Vincent Lecavalier’s franchise record of 108 points, set in the 2006-07 season, when he scored twice against Detroit last Saturday. Kucherov had 110 points through 69 games, more points than anyone since Henrik Sedin scored 112 points for Vancouver in 2009-10. The Bruins’ streak, incidentally, was second-best in franchise history to a 23-game streak in the 1940-41 season. Worth noting as the Bruins try to fend off Toronto and stay second in the Atlantic Division: Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk injured his arm Sunday and might be out for a while. The Bruins’ depth has already been tested by injuries to David Pasternak (thumb surgery), Jake DeBrusk (lower-body), Kevan Miller (upper-body) and Marcus Johansson (lung contusion).

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