NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 24th (All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (39-26-7) at Boston Bruins (49-17-5), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The hottest team in the NHL will shoot for a 13th straight victory on Monday, as the playoff-bound Boston Bruins try to continue their roll in a home test against the rival Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins had already clinched a playoff spot on Friday, but that didn't slow them down in Saturday's road tilt against Phoenix. Shawn Thornton scored the game-winner late in the third period of a 4-2 win, giving Boston its 12th consecutive win and an NHL-leading 103 points this season.
The Bruins became the first team to clinch a playoff spot with Friday's 2-0 blanking of Colorado, and the team has now ripped off its longest winning streak since a 13-game run from Feb. 23-March 20, 1971. The team has twice won 13 games in a row, with the other occurring from Dec. 3, 1929-Jan. 9, 1930, when Boston recorded a club-record 14 straight victories under legendary head coach Art Ross.
Saturday's victory also pushed the team two points ahead of St. Louis for the best record in the NHL, but the Blues drew even with the Bruins after beating Pittsburgh on Sunday. Boston is six points ahead of the Penguins for the top spot in the East and also holds a nearly insurmountable 17-point cushion over Tampa Bay for the Atlantic Division lead.
Jarome Iginla scored twice on Saturday and Patrice Bergeron had the other marker for the Bruins, who got 30 saves from Tuukka Rask. Boston trailed 2-1 heading into the third period before scoring three unanswered goals over the game's final 20 minutes.
"We don't want any easy games, we want to get better as a team and this was the kind of game where you can do that," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "Tonight, in my mind, it showed our character where we came back in the third and won it."
Iginla has been on fire lately for the Bruins, registering eight goals over his last six games. The 36-year-old winger leads Boston with 28 goals this season and is second on the club with 58 points.
Boston, which hasn't lost since a home setback against Washington on March 1, has won its last five games as the host. The Bruins boast a 28-7-2 mark at TD Garden this season.
Montreal hopes it has what it takes to end Boston's epic winning streak. The Canadiens won the first two of four scheduled meetings between the club's this season before the Bruins halted a five-game slide in the series with a 4-1 triumph in Montreal on March 12. Rask stopped 35 shots for Boston in that win, but the goaltender is still only 3-10-2 with a 2.75 goals against average in 16 career appearances against the Habs.
The Canadiens have won three straight in Boston and expect to go with Carey Price in net on Monday. Price is 17-8-3 with a 2.50 GAA in 29 career games against the Bruins.
Montreal currently sits third in the Atlantic and is five points ahead of Detroit and Toronto for the last of the division's three automatic playoff bids.
The Habs are 4-1-0 since losing to Boston on March 12 and picked up a big win Saturday in Toronto. Tomas Plekanec scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and the Canadiens held off the Maple Leafs for the 4-3 win.
Max Pacioretty, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta also scored for the Canadiens.
"That's a huge game," said Gionta. "Them right on our heels, it's a four-point swing."
Price made 33 saves for Montreal, improving his season record to 29-18-5.
Beginning with tonight's tilt in Beantown, the Canadiens are playing two straight and six of their next seven on the road. Montreal is 19-14-2 as the guest in 2013-14.
03/24 10:47:26 ET