The Boston Bruins haven’t experienced many losses over the first few weeks of the NHL season, but they will look to bounce back from one when they return home to face the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.
Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs in Toronto snapped Boston’s seven-game win streak, which had been the longest in the league. The Bruins hadn’t lost since Oct. 18 in Ottawa.
“We weren’t very sharp,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “(Toronto) checked extremely well, they protected the middle of the ice well, but you’re on the third game of a five-day road trip and we went in the third period 2-1 and gave ourselves a chance.”
Brad Marchand scored a game-tying penalty shot in the second period, marking his 800th NHL point.
The Bruins were in the game until Matthews netted the winner with 5:53 to play. Boston’s continued high compete level has been impressive to the first-year coach.
“I just like our ability to manage games and give ourselves opportunities to have outcomes,” Montgomery said.
The Bruins will now play five of their next six games at home after beating Columbus, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers over a four-game road trip.
Only former Boston coach Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights (11-2-0) have more wins than the Bruins (10-2-0) in the entire NHL.
Thanks to such a strong start, the Bruins expect to get the best from every team they come up against.
“We have to realize that every time we play a game now, that team’s gonna be ready for us,” center David Krejci said. “That was a good test for us. We’ve got to learn from it and make sure we’re as prepared as the other team.”
Saturday marked Krejci’s return to the lineup following a three-game injury absence (upper body), while Montgomery believes forward Craig Smith “will be close” to returning against the Blues. Smith has also missed three games due to an upper-body ailment.
The Blues visit Boston having been outscored 30-10 during a six-game losing streak, but they have had more time to sit on those defeats than any NHL team as Monday will be their league-low 10th game this season.
St. Louis has been idle since a 5-2 Thursday loss to the New York Islanders, in which Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist. Prior to the game, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong held a closed-door team meeting.
“I thought we competed hard and there were a lot of good things, but the goals aren’t there,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “Chances, but I get it, we’re not producing very much.”
All six losses during the current streak have come in regulation, a first for St. Louis since the end of the 2013-14 season.
The return of veteran winger Brandon Saad could be near, as he returned to practice on Thursday and Friday after missing all six games with an upper-body injury. Saad has been out since the Blues last won on Oct. 22 in Edmonton.
“I just think he builds our game with his direct play and skating,” Berube said. “He’s on top of things, he does a lot of good things and he’s a situational guy for us. And he really drives that north kind of hockey, forechecking and skating.”
The St. Louis roster includes former Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and forward Noel Acciari, who both have points in two of their last three games.
The Blues will close a back-to-back set Tuesday at Philadelphia.
–Field Level Media