Owners of the NHL’s top record by a comfortable margin, the Boston Bruins nonetheless enter Tuesday’s visit to the Chicago Blackhawks with two losses in their past three games.
Boston hasn’t endured such a stretch since suffering a three-game road skid in late January, which remains the only time the club has lost consecutive games this season.
The Bruins will aim to regroup against a struggling Blackhawks team that has lost three straight and seven of eight. One key to that end: securing a better start. The Bruins fell behind 4-0 during Sunday’s eventual 5-3 loss at Detroit, a team the Bruins defeated the day before behind a late rally.
“We’ve just got to be honest with ourselves that we’re not putting forth the effort that we expect from ourselves,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “This isn’t the first game.”
Boston pulled within a goal of Detroit in the third period as Matt Grzelcyk, Jake DeBrusk, and David Pastrnak scored within a span of 9:32 over the second and third periods.
Pavel Zacha assisted on two goals during the surge, while Grzelcyk and Pastrnak each had one.
“No surprise with this locker room,” Grzelcyk said. “A ton of resilience. It is a little frustrating that we’ve had a few tough starts in a row. Obviously a great effort in the third but just a little too late there and we put ourselves behind the eight ball.”
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm missed the game with a swollen foot, but Montgomery said the team expects to have him back against the Blackhawks.
Boston routed visiting Chicago 6-1 on Nov. 19. Pastrnak scored twice and Charlie McAvoy contributed four assists. The Bruins have won four straight games against the Blackhawks while earning points in the past seven meetings.
Tuesday marks the second contest in Boston’s five-game road trip. For the Blackhawks, it’s a rare jaunt home amid a stretch of playing eight of nine away from United Center.
Chicago is coming off narrow losses last week in Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay, being outscored 11-7 and losing one of the games in overtime. The Blackhawks enter play Tuesday tied with San Jose for the fewest points in the Western Conference.
On Saturday, Chicago played reigning Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay tight, as Taylor Raddysh scored and Petr Mrazek stopped 34 shots. But Brayden Point snapped a 1-all tie with a minute to go in regulation before the Lightning added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.
“Overall, I thought our game was pretty good,” Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson said. “I thought we had a lot of chances, and Mrazek was unbelievable and kept us in it. It was a close game. … It came down to the end there. I wish that wouldn’t happen, but you have to take some positives.”
Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson agreed.
“We just have to reassure (them) that they did a lot of things right and that we’re doing in the right direction,” he said. “We’ll learn from this. When you turn the corner, the lessons of losing in the last minute turn into winning in the last minute.”
Raddysh has three goals in the past three games for Chicago.
–Field Level Media