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Observations: Sharks 2, Bruins 1

After a two-game winning streak on home ice, the Boston Bruins began a three-game road trip with a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks Thursday night at HP Pavilion.

The Bruins are at a crucial point as the regular-season schedule is down to single digits with only nine games remaining. Boston narrowly sits in first place with 87 points in the Northeast Division, only three points ahead of second-place Ottawa.

After Boston recorded impressive wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden, the Bruins felt they had finally begun to play with confidence again.

The Bruins were a bit sluggish in the opening period and the Sharks took advantage of a turnover by Boston’s Milan Lucic and capitalized when San Jose’s Joe Pavelski notched his 27th goal of the season for a 1-0 lead at 3:57.

After a scoreless second period, San Jose gained a 2-0 advantage when the Sharks’ Daniel Winnik finished off a 3-on-2 at 2:17 of the third period.

Boston had trouble finding a way to beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi until the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara banked in a shot off the netminder at 15:45 of the third period to cut San Jose’s lead to 2-1. Unfortunately for the Bruins, that would be as close as they would get in this one.

VEZINA-LIKE: Playing in his 14th consecutive game, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas (25 saves) was solid, and despite the amount of playing time he’s getting of late, he appears ready for the stretch run and the playoffs. The Bruins have back-to-back games this weekend, so it’s likely that backup goalie Marty Turco will get the nod against either the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday or the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. With Tuukka Rask sidelined with a groin/abdominal injury, Turco signed with Boston as a free agent on March 5 and has played two games with a 0-1-0 record.

ON THE BRINK: Bruins forward Rich Peverley has missed the last 18 games with a knee injury, but he’s with the team on the road trip and he could return to the lineup Saturday at Los Angeles or Sunday in Anaheim. He suffered the injury on Feb. 15 in Montreal. In 49 games this season, Peverley has nine goals and 29 assists for 38 points.

UP NEXT: The road trip continues on Saturday when the Bruins face the Kings, which will be the 1,000th career NHL game for Chara. The Bruins captain becomes the 277th player (91st defenseman) to reach the milestone. Chara is the 11th Bruins player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. Boston then heads to Anaheim to face the Ducks on Sunday before returning home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at TD Garden.