After their return from the NHL All-Star break ended in a loss, the Boston Bruins now get a chance to reset on the road this week.
The best team in the NHL kicks off its first of two February trips outside its time zone with a Tuesday visit to the Dallas Stars, who hold a two-point lead atop the Western Conference standings.
Boston dropped a 2-1 Saturday decision to Washington for just its second home loss of the season in regulation. Nick Foligno scored the Bruins’ lone goal.
“Our effort was there but I just think the urgency and execution weren’t,” Foligno said. “There’s no excuse for it. That’s something this group has always found a way to do. … We’ve got a good chance to go on the road now after a break and find our game and make sure we have that desperation.”
Despite winning just one of its last five games, Boston still has a seven-point lead over Carolina atop the East.
The skill and talent of players like David Pastrnak, who ranks second in the NHL with 38 goals, has helped the Bruins more often than not this season.
While desperation has been a common trait of many recent opponents, the Bruins have not reached the same level enough.
“With our skill level, usually things go our way,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said on Saturday. “But the thing we’re starting to see now is teams are fighting for their lives and there’s a lot of desperation. I think it’s only going to get amplified. We’re going to have to start matching that.”
The return of forward Jake DeBrusk from hand and lower-body injuries suffered in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic is coming soon.
“Not yet, but he is going through the steps,” Montgomery said when asked of DeBrusk’s status. “Doubtful for (Tuesday), probable for (Nashville) Thursday. … We’re missing his speed and ability to track down pucks whether it’s on the forecheck or stripping guys from behind.”
The Stars are 5-2-3 in a 10-game span after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay, a team two points behind second-place Toronto in Boston’s Atlantic Division.
Jamie Benn scored a game-tying goal in the second period, but the Lightning controlled the final frame by compiling a 15-5 shots advantage and scoring twice with less than a minute to play.
Scott Wedgewood made 28 saves in his first outing since a Jan. 19 shutout at Los Angeles.
“l didn’t like how we handled the last five minutes,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said. “It’s a good learning lesson for our group against teams like that. You can’t sit in the shell. You can’t stand around because they’ll expose you.”
The same lesson is likely true against a Boston team that won the first of two meetings in the season series, 3-1 on Oct. 25. Pastrnak had a goal and an assist.
“You learn things every time you play a team like (Tampa),” DeBoer said. “That’s a multiple Stanley Cup champion over there. That’s one of the hottest teams in the league over the past two months, so I think there’s multiple lessons out there (Saturday).”
Benn became the 379th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 career regular-season games on Feb. 6 against Anaheim.
Prior to Saturday, Roope Hintz had scored in three straight games and Jason Robertson had three assists over a pair of contests.
A first-time All-Star earlier this month, Robertson is seventh in the NHL with 33 goals. He joined Benn and Tyler Seguin as active stars to post consecutive 30-goal seasons for Dallas.
–Field Level Media