Bruins try to stay hot in Montreal
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Boston Bruins take aim at a sixth straight victory when they visit the rival Montreal Canadiens for Wednesday's Atlantic Division clash at the Bell Centre.
The first-place Bruins set their season-high for consecutive wins on Sunday, beating the Florida Panthers 5-2 on the road for their fifth victory in a row. Boston hasn't claimed six straight contests since Feb. 17-March 2 of last season.
The Bruins' recent hot streak has helped push the club's lead atop the Atlantic to 11 points over Toronto. The Canadiens, meanwhile, are one point behind the Maple Leafs for third place, with the top three teams in each division earning an automatic bid to the postseason.
Although the Bruins enter Wednesday's clash on a hot streak and Montreal has lost two straight and three of its last four games, the Canadiens have had the upper hand in recent meetings with Boston. The Habs are 2-0 against the Bruins so far in 2013-14 and have won have five straight overall in the series.
The Canadiens are also 7-2-1 over the last 10 regular-season meetings against Boston at the Bell Centre.
Boston picked up its most recent victory against the Panthers over the weekend. The clubs were tied at 1-1 after 40 minutes before the Bruins used a dominant third period to record the 5-2 decision.
Carl Soderberg and Patrice Bergeron each posted a goal and an assist in the win. Chris Kelly, Torey Krug and Jarome Iginla also scored for the Bruins, while Chad Johnson gave up two goals on 22 shots in the win.
The victory briefly pushed the Bruins ahead of Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Penguins have won twice since then and are currently three points in front of Boston.
"We talked about it before the game that Pittsburgh wasn't playing tonight and we were only one point behind them, so it was a big game for us and I think we played a solid road game to come out with the two points," said Bergeron.
The win came in the middle test of a three-game road trip that is set to end tonight in Montreal. The Bruins have won three straight on the road and are 17-10-3 away from Beantown this season.
Montreal is glad to be home on Wednesday after going 1-3-0 on a recent tour of Pacific Division cities. The rough trek dropped the Habs to 17-14-2 as the visiting team this season. The Canadiens are 18-10-5 as the host in 2013-14 and are playing two straight and four of their next five games at the Bell Centre.
The Habs were outscored by a combined margin of 9-2 in dropping the last two games of their trip, losing 5-2 in Phoenix on Thursday before getting dealt a 4-0 setback Saturday at San Jose.
While Sharks netminder Antti Niemi pitched a shutout on Saturday, Habs goaltender Peter Budaj gave up two goals on 11 shots before being pulled early in the second period for the Canadiens. Dustin Tokarski gave up the other two goals on 22 shots in relief.
"We played terrible," said Canadiens' Max Pacioretty. "We didn't play our game plan, we just played awful."
With No. 1 goaltender Carey Price dealing with a lower-body issue, Budaj could get the start again on Wednesday. Price anchored Team Canada to a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics, but also returned from Russia with an injury that has kept him sidelined for the first seven games after the break.
Price faced shots at practice on Tuesday and could be nearing a return to game action, but he isn't expected to suit up for tonight's tilt.
The Canadiens, however, could get forward Brandon Prust back on Wednesday for the first time since the Olympic break. Prust, who has five goals and six assists over 48 games this season, last played on Feb. 8 when he suffered an upper-body injury.