The NHL-leading Boston Bruins conclude a two-game Western Conference road trip Thursday night in Nashville, meeting the Predators for the first time in more than a year.
Boston was just 1-3-1 in its previous five games before Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win over the West-leading Dallas Stars.
David Pastrnak scored the deciding goal on Boston’s only shot of the extra period as the Bruins (40-8-5) became the first NHL team to reach the 40-win mark this season. They also matched the 2015-16 Washington Capitals for the NHL record for fewest games to hit that plateau.
“It was nice to win a game where we had to overcome so many struggles within the game, the penalty kills, playing really well but not having a lead, trailing. (We) keep pushing, keep believing,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “There’s a lot of belief in that locker room that if we play the right way, we’ve got a lot of depth that can overcome a lot of adversity.”
The Bruins endured a third-period deficit and earned Montgomery his 100th win as a NHL head coach despite winning just 12 of the game’s 62 faceoffs.
It was an example of what Bruins hockey is all about.
Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha each had a goal and an assist, while Taylor Hall rounded out Boston’s scoring against former Boston University goaltender Jake Oettinger.
“We kept coming, especially in the third period,” Zacha said. “We played great overall, playing it simple in the neutral zone, trying to get chances there. You can see the depth in our team, blocking shots in the end, great penalty kill. Just overall a good game for us and a big win.”
Zacha’s 37 points (12 goals and 25 assists) set a new career-high mark, passing his 36 from last season in New Jersey.
Nashville fell 4-2 on Monday against Arizona, its second loss in three games since the All-Star break but just its third over a nine-game span.
Roman Josi and Colton Sissons scored for the Predators.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” Josi said. “I thought we had more chances and more O-zone time, especially in the second. We had a lot of good looks and a lot of O-zone time, but we just couldn’t find a way to score more goals. … I wish that we’d had more of a push and tied it up.”
Josi, who has a team-leading 44 points, is riding a six-game point streak and has points in 15 of his last 18 games.
Prior to Monday, Matt Duchene had scored in three straight games.
The Predators received a recent boost from forward Philip Tomasino, a second-year player who was recalled from AHL Milwaukee and made his season debut on Monday.
“I thought Tomasino came in and he played fast,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “That was one of the things we wanted to see. I thought he was competitive on the puck. He made some nice plays. … He looks like he’s got more substance to his game.”
Boston and Nashville have not met since Jan. 15, 2022, a 4-3 overtime win for the Bruins. Hall scored the deciding goal and had an assist in that game.
Boston is 4-0-1 in the last five head-to-head meetings, winning each of the last three. The Bruins’ last regulation loss in the series was in November 2018.
–Field Level Media