The Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens rivalry could pick up some more steam if the clubs can maintain their current positions atop the Northeast Division throughout the shortened season.
The Original Six clubs meet for the first time in 2013 as the reigning division-champion Bruins visit the Habs.
The Bruins and Canadiens have been battling in spirited contests since 1924, squaring off in the regular season 717 times in addition to countless playoff encounters. A healthy number of those meetings have been of the feisty nature and that trend is likely to continue this season given the abbreviated campaign.
Boston sits tied with Ottawa atop the Northeast Division with 13 points, one ahead of Montreal. Wednesday will be the first of four meetings between the clubs after the Bruins took the final four of six encounters in 2011-12.
Prior to Boston's current series winning streak, Montreal had won 11 of 14 against its rival. However, the Canadiens have followed up five straight home wins over the Bruins with back-to-back setbacks at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins avoided their first losing streak of the season by rebounding from last Thursday's 7-4 defeat against Buffalo -- their first regulation loss of the season -- with a tight 1-0 win at Toronto on Saturday.
Tuukka Rask was blasted for six goals on 31 shots in losing to the Sabres, but notched a 21-save performance versus the Maple Leafs to post his 12th career shutout and push Boston's record to 6-1-1.
"We just cleaned up our defensive game," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "We had enough shots on net. Their goaltender played really well. We had our chances and at the same time we had to kill a lot of penalties. Our penalty killers did a good job, but it was more about cleaning up our defensive game. I thought we were extremely sloppy against Buffalo."
Boston got all the scoring it needed in the first period on Chris Bourque's second career NHL goal and first since Dec. 30, 2008 with the Washington Capitals.
Bourque, the son of legendary Bruins defenseman Ray, was a healthy scratch against Buffalo.
"I knew I had the capability of doing it, it's just going out there and proving it," said the younger Bourque. "I had a couple chances here and there in the first six games, but tonight I wanted to really bear down when I got the chance and it ended up in the back of the net."
The former second-round pick found his way back into the lineup after Daniel Paille took a stick to the face against Toronto. Paille did not travel to Montreal, but forward Brad Marchand did after exiting the win over the Leafs early due to an undisclosed injury.
The Canadiens were sparked by a healthy return of their own on Sunday in a 2-1 victory over Ottawa, with forward Max Pacioretty returning to game action just eight days after an emergency appendectomy that was slated to sideline him for 3-to-4 weeks. He assisted on David Desharnais' game-tying tally in the first period, a score that came just 35 seconds after the Senators had taken a 1-0 lead.
"The coach made the right decision," said Pacioretty. "Actually the decision was made (Saturday) night after I told the coach that I was ready. Maybe mine was more magnified because I had surgery. But everyone plays through injuries all the time."
Erik Cole also scored and Carey Price made 32 saves for the Habs, who have won two straight and six of their first eight games this season.
Defenseman P.K. Subban notched his second assist in as many games since ending his holdout last Monday by agreeing to a two-year deal.