The Boston Bruins will try to record consecutive victories for the first time in over a month when they visit the Winnipeg Jets tonight at MTS Centre.
The Bruins went 25-4-1 from Nov. 1-Jan. 12, but the defending Stanley Cup champions have played mediocre hockey since then, posting a 7-7-1 record over their last 15 contests.
Despite Boston's erratic play of late, the club is still four points ahead of Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead and, more importantly, the B's have five games in hand over the Senators. The Bruins have given up ground in the race for the conference's top seed, as the New York Rangers are currently seven points ahead of Boston atop the East.
The Bruins last posted consecutive wins with victories over Winnipeg and Montreal on Jan. 10 and 12, respectively. Boston posted a win Wednesday night against the Canadiens to start a six-game road trip and Claude Julien hopes his club can make it two in a row tonight in Winnipeg.
Boston led the Canadiens by a 3-1 score after two periods on Wednesday, but allowed the Habs to tie the game in the third and send it to overtime. Tyler Seguin eventually scored the winner in the shootout to lift the B's to the 4-3 win at Bell Centre.
Seguin scored on the second chance of the shootout when he blew a wrister past Carey Price. Tim Thomas then stopped Lars Eller's wrister with his blocker to give the Bruins their third win in the past five games.
"I've been lucky so far in shootouts but I'll take it," said Thomas. "It was a bit more passionate game that we played tonight. We brought the effort with team energy and part of that was how Montreal came at us."
Bruins forward Rich Peverley suffered an injury to his right knee in the third period of Wednesday's game and he was sent back to Boston to be evaluated.
Boston has a solid 17-8-0 record as the guest this year and will also visit Minnesota, St. Louis, Buffalo and Ottawa during this swing.
The Bruins have taken two of three from Winnipeg this season and tonight's meeting is the final scheduled encounter between the clubs this year. Boston has taken three of four and 14 of the last 17 matchups against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, but the B's dropped a 2-1 decision when they visited the MTS Centre on Dec. 6.
The Jets won last night in Minnesota and will try to carry that momentum into tonight's opening game of an eight-game homestand. Winnipeg has performed much better on home ice this season, posting a 16-9-2 record as the host compared to an 11-17-4 road mark.
Winnipeg will try to boost its playoff chances during its lengthy residency. The Jets are currently four points out of a postseason berth in the East and are also five points in back of Florida for the Southeast Division lead.
After losing consecutive outings, the Jets made their way back into the win column with Thursday's shootout win over the Wild. Evander Kane scored twice in regulation and also record the winner in the shootout to lift Winnipeg to the 4-3 decision at Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota's Dany Heatley was stopped by Chris Mason in the fourth round of the shootout and Kane followed by winning it with a wrister. Kane also had an assist while Alexander Burmistrov had a goal and an assist for the Jets. Mason made 22 stops in the win.
"Every game has such magnitude," said Mason. "Every game is a must win but chances are we're not going to win every one, so we take what's in front of us."
The Jets played Thursday without defenseman Zach Bogosian, who sustained an upper-body injury in Winnipeg's previous contest. Bogosian, who averages 23 minutes, 30 seconds of ice time a game, is considered day-to-day and is questionable for tonight.