As a 15-1-3 run and a 12-point lead in the Atlantic Division standings suggest, the Boston Bruins have needed little help racking up wins this season.
Following a two-game sweep of the Islanders and Rangers in New York, the Bruins will return home to face the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
Boston has won 10 consecutive games against San Jose dating to 2016.
Their home-and-home season series began Jan. 7 as part of Boston’s three-game California road trip. Brad Marchand had three points (one goal, two assists) and David Pastrnak scored twice in a 4-2 Boston win.
“It’s really beneficial to see the same team quickly because it’s still fresh in our minds what San Jose is good at,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “Their speed, transition game and how well they attacked our net gave us a little bit of (trouble). With how they managed pucks, they made us work in our own D-zone.”
Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Rangers was Boston’s fourth straight, but it came at a cost as forward Tomas Nosek suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left foot. He will miss at least four weeks.
Nosek also has been dealing with an upper-body injury that prevented him from taking faceoffs in recent games, giving center Joona Koppanen an opportunity to play in his first NHL games this past week.
“You’re going to sometimes be in situations where you’re going to say, ‘Next time, I’m going to be more aggressive or next time I’m going to do this. But he didn’t hurt us at all,” Montgomery said. “He helped us win that game. And then I think (Saturday) in practice is the best I’ve seen him look.”
With Jake DeBrusk also out for the foreseeable future (hand and leg injuries), Montgomery said he expects the team to recall another forward from AHL Providence before it begins a five-game road swing Tuesday at Montreal.
In positive injury news, defenseman Brandon Carlo is expected to play Sunday. He left Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot.
The Sharks have lost six of their past eight games after beginning an eight-game trip with Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to NHL-worst Columbus.
After Nico Sturm scored 1:53 into the third period to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead, the Blue Jackets netted the final three goals of the game.
San Jose logged just five shots on goal in each of the last two periods.
“We just wanted it to be easy. We thought it would be easy and we were wrong,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “We just didn’t pay a price to win a hockey game. At this level, you’d better pay a price. … It seemed like it was more important to Columbus as that game went on.”
Sturm had a goal and an assist to lead San Jose.
Timo Meier has scored 15 of his team-leading 27 goals on the road. He has seven goals and 10 points in nine January games.
Boston University product Nick Bonino made the score 2-0 San Jose in the second period.
Meier and Bonino are in the midst of three-game goal scoring streaks, but their efforts were not enough in the first game of the back-to-back.
“Just a lackluster effort, and they (Blue Jackets) deserved to win at the end,” Sturm said. “No offense to that team, but we look at the other teams we play on this road trip, and if we play like that, we’re going to get killed.”
–Field Level Media