Every team goes through ups and downs over the course of a long NHL season.
The Boston Bruins, who host the Montreal Canadiens for the only time this season on Thursday night, have just experienced far fewer downs in between the ups.
Boston (54-11-5, 113 points) has strung together four consecutive wins since dropping back-to-back games in regulation for the first time a week ago Sunday and Tuesday in Detroit and Chicago, respectively.
"The energy levels will go up and we'll be feeling really good about ourselves and guys will have tons of energy, and then you'll have cycles where the energy isn't," Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. "That's what happened to us for a little while. We couldn't make 15-foot passes. That isn't common for us."
Boston's recent streak has coincided with the power play starting to click again.
Tuesday's 2-1 win over Ottawa marked the third straight game in which the Bruins have scored a man-up goal. They tallied just one over a previous six-game stretch.
Brad Marchand has logged points (six in total, all assists) across all three of those games, including an incredible cross-ice pass to set up Jake DeBrusk's game-winning goal.
DeBrusk has netted goals in three straight, joining Marchand with six points over that span.
"I think it was just great passes from my linemates (that led to scoring), honestly," DeBrusk said. "Just trying to get to the net."
Although Marchand said he still has not returned to 100 percent after undergoing offseason hip surgery, Montgomery believes he looks closer than he has this season.
"I think he's found his groove here and he's making a lot of plays again, which is great to see," Montgomery said. "Just the way he's attacking defensemen's feet, pulling up, reading off of their joints. If their ankles or knees are turned one way, he's going the other way."
Continuing a straight goaltending rotation, Linus Ullmark made 40 saves -- including 21 in the second period -- on the way to his 10th win in 11 starts.
Jeremy Swayman, who has pitched back-to-back shutouts for the first time in his NHL career, is in line to start against Montreal.
The Canadiens (28-37-6, 62 points) are coming off just their second win in 11 games (2-7-2), a 3-2 Tuesday triumph over Tampa Bay, one of Boston's closest Atlantic Division competitors.
The game was the second in a home-and-home set with the Lightning.
"I liked our game," Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. "It's fun because you played the same team last game so you have a lot of examples. You can really show the things you need to improve and the way you want to show up against them, the things you want to do."
Conversely, the lone meeting with Boston was on Jan. 24, a 4-2 Bruins win in Montreal.
Brendan Gallagher and Kirby Dach returned for the second Tampa Bay game after missing 32 and 16 games, respectively, with lower-body injuries.
Dach, who had not played since Feb. 14, scored a goal.
"A lot of times when you're coming back from injury you're in the (locker) room working out, but I was in a (cast) so you're not able to do that," Gallagher said. "You see the game a lot different from up top. If you use that, it can be helpful."
Among the list of nine injured players as of Tuesday, forward Jake Evans and defenseman Jordan Harris appear close to returning. Both traded in non-contact jerseys and participated in Wednesday's practice.
A Massachusetts native and former Northeastern University captain, Harris has been ruled out due to a lower-body injury. Evans could play.
Forward Josh Anderson (ankle) will not travel after being injured on Tuesday.
--Field Level Media