After defeating two Eastern Conference foes, the Boston Bruins close out a four-game homestand with back-to-back games against two of the West’s best over a span of three days.
First up is a Saturday visit to Boston from the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
The game pits the Bruins against a team that is 7-2 over the last nine head-to-head meetings and includes a load of talent in the likes of top-flight defensemen Cale Makar and Devon Toews and elite scorers Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon.
Bruins coach Jim Montgomery is confident his team has the tools to match up.
“Their ability to read off each other … and their skating is elite,” Montgomery said of Makar and Toews, who both played collegiately in New England at UMass and Quinnipiac, respectively.
“It’s such a luxury to have two players like (Charlie) McAvoy and (Hampus) Lindholm,” the Bruins’ coach added. “Play them together against (Tampa Bay’s Brayden) Point’s line, and they do a great job 5-on-5 … or we can split them up. They’re both elite, 200-foot defensemen.”
Boston’s duo logged team-high ice time while holding the Lightning to a power-play goal in Tuesday’s 3-1 win. Taylor Hall scored twice for the Bruins, who are a league-best 13-0-0 at home.
“I feel like there’s definitely a calmness within our game,” Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo said. “There’s not a lot of times where we get overwhelmed with anything. … It starts with the coaching staff allowing us to just play a simple game.”
Though Colorado had the upper hand in recent meetings, David Pastrnak had two goals and an assist as Boston dominated in a 5-1 home win on Feb. 21 last season.
The Bruins will look to continue the home-ice momentum that has remained all season.
“I think we know (the win streak) is there, but it’s not something we focus on,” Montgomery said. “It’s more about our process that allows us to have positive outcomes. (Captain) Patrice Bergeron is driven that way mentally, and I’ve always been a process-oriented coach. … We’re together in how we think things should work.”
Colorado began its four-game road trip by losing 5-0 on Tuesday at Winnipeg before bouncing back to beat Buffalo 6-4 on Thursday.
“It wasn’t pretty, but found a way to get a win,” Colorado forward J.T. Compher said. “Stuck with it. Wasn’t the best we’ve played.”
The Avalanche’s NHL-best power play (33.8 percent) went 3-for-6 at Buffalo, tallying twice in a short second-period span to turn around a 2-1 deficit.
Before going 0-for-3 on Tuesday, the Avs scored man-up goals in eight straight games and 10 of their last 11.
“That was the best our power play has looked all year — in that 45 seconds,” coach Jared Bednar said. “Attack mentality. … I think they were hungry to go get another one.”
Just over two minutes after getting the pair of power-play goals, MacKinnon scored for a 4-2 advantage.
MacKinnon notched a season-high five points (two goals, three assists) for the fifth time in his NHL career. In the same game, he passed Milan Hejduk for fifth place in franchise history with 431 career assists and reached the 250-goal mark.
Though half of the game was played on special teams, Bednar liked his team’s 5-on-5 play with Compher coming through with two goals as part of a four-point effort.
“J.T. had a big night, too,” Bednar said. “That line (Compher, Andrew Cogliano and Logan O’Connor) was really good in the checking side of it and helped produce a bunch of offense. They (got) the big timely goal to give us another cushion.”
–Field Level Media