(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Bruins will try to push their winning streak to a season-high six straight games on Saturday night when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Bruins have matched their longest winning streak of the season to assert themselves back into the playoff mix. Boston's postseason chances were starting to take a hit after a 5-6-5 mark through 16 games since the beginning of December, but the Bruins have picked up some key wins over some other playoff-contending teams like Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay over this win streak.
Boston's latest victory came over the New York Rangers, a 3-0 win in a battle of the two current holders of the East's wild card spots. Tuukka Rask made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season and 25th of his career.
"Tuukka was up to the task," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. "In my mind, he was our best player tonight."
Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Loui Eriksson all scored and Torey Krug supplied two assists for the Bruins, who matched a five-game win streak accomplished from Oct. 30-Nov. 10.
Boston hasn't won six straight since a 12-game tear from March 2-22, 2014.
Krug has amassed seven assists over a five-game point streak.
Forward David Pastrnak, the 25th overall pick of the 2014 draft, is expected to play in his 10th game of the season tonight, thus activating the first season of his entry-level contract. Pastrnak had posted consecutive two-goal games before going pointless versus the Rangers.
While Pastrnak will be on the ice, forward Brad Marchand will miss this contest as he begins a two-game suspension for a slew-footing incident on New York's Derick Brassard in the second period on Thursday.
Marchand, who was not penalized on the play, has 12 goals and 24 points in 42 games this season.
The Bruins are 5-2-0 all-time at home versus the Blue Jackets and had won seven in a row against them before taking a 6-2 loss in Columbus on Dec. 27.
Both Rask and backup Niklas Svedberg saw action in the game, with each netminder allowing three goals on 15 shots. Rask relieved Svedberg during the second period and is 4-1-0 versus Columbus with a 1.98 goals against average and .931 save percentage in six games (4 starts).
Scott Hartnell scored twice for the Blue Jackets, Kevin Connauton had a goal and two assists, and Curtis McElhinney made 26 saves for the Blue Jackets.
McElhinney is 1-2-0 with a 2.69 GAA and .914 save percentage in three games versus the Bruins and could start tonight after Sergei Bobrovsky got the call in last night's 2-1 setback to the Rangers.
Bobrovsky made 24 saves, but New York's Henrik Lundqvist was even better with 35 stops. Hartnell had the lone goal in Columbus' fourth setback in a row.
"We had our chances," Hartnell said. "Lundqvist stood on his head at times."
Ryan Johansen picked up an assist to extend his franchise-record point streak to 12 straight games, a span in which he has seven goals and seven assists.
Still, Columbus is on its longest losing streak since a six-game slide from Nov. 18-29.