(Photo credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)
The Boston Bruins look for revenge as they return home to renew acquaintances with Atlantic Division rival Montreal Canadiens for the second time in as many weeks on Saturday night.
Boston's Eastern Conference-leading 12-1-2 record includes a 3-2 overtime loss in Montreal last Saturday, but the 5-2 win at Buffalo that followed on Tuesday was a positive end to a two-game road trip.
"Energy, focus, we made mental and physical mistakes," Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said, listing his team's issues that led to a rare loss in Montreal. "Our execution was not what we've become accustomed to."
Boston had been on a 10-game win streak against Montreal -- its second-longest active run against any opponent -- dating to Nov. 5, 2019.
The response last time out was emphatic, as Danton Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Oskar Steen and Hampus Lindholm all scored their first goals of the season.
Before Carlo and Lindholm scored against Buffalo, defensemen had combined for only four of the Bruins' goals. The coach believes having a "more selfish" attitude from the back end could benefit the team.
David Pastrnak, meanwhile, had a goal and two assists against the Sabres. The star winger entered Thursday tied for second in the NHL with his 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 15 games.
"He makes people around him better," Montgomery said of Pastrnak earlier this week. "As good a goal scorer he is, he's an equal passer. And the way he competes as a leader on our team and our most skilled player, it shows everybody that you have to work to have success."
While the Bruins have not played since Tuesday, the rematch with Montreal starts a much busier stretch. Saturday is the first of five games in an eight-day span.
Montgomery does not expect to move away from the even goaltending rotation he has employed, meaning that Jeremy Swayman would get another crack at the team that is responsible for the only blemish on his 6-0-1 record.
The Canadiens (7-8-2) have earned four wins in overtime and another in a shootout this season, but a three-game losing streak since beating Boston has dropped them below .500 for the first time.
Two power-play goals in the final two minutes of the third period helped Vegas leave Montreal with a 6-5 Thursday win, despite Jesse Ylonen scoring twice and Cayden Primeau making 36 stops.
"If you think about the previous games, we (needed) to score more. We actually did that (Thursday)," Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. "But our details slipped a little bit, our urgency, awareness. ... You've got to do that from the start when you play against those teams."
After coming from behind to beat Boston last week, the Canadiens have a recent example of the type of effort that it takes to beat elite teams.
"We've got to take the confidence in knowing we can compete with them," defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic said. "They're one of the top teams in the league, and we know we can beat them if we play the right way. ... That's managing the puck, not starting offense for them."
Defenseman Jordan Harris will return after missing two games due to an upper-body injury. He likely takes the place of Arber Xhekaj, who exited Thursday's game with his own upper-body injury and is day-to-day.
Saturday marks a homecoming for Harris, the former Northeastern University captain who hails from Haverhill, Mass. It will be his first NHL game at TD Garden.
--Field Level Media