The Boston Bruins have allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference and are atop the Atlantic Division, but it hasn't always been easy away from home this season.
It doesn't get much more difficult than this three-game road trip.
The Bruins will visit three of the league's best home teams on their trek west, starting Tuesday night when they'll try to hand the Anaheim Ducks their first regulation loss this season at the Honda Center.
Boston (28-12-2) allows a league-best 1.71 goals per game at home but that number climbs to 2.56 on the road, where they're 10-8-0.
The Bruins have given up 16 goals and lost three of their last four away from home, and reversing those woes over the next five days isn't going to be easy. Boston's trip begins against Anaheim (31-8-5), which is 17-0-2 on its own ice and concludes with visits to Los Angeles and San Jose, who are a combined 29-6-5 at home.
"Well it's going to be a challenge, I've said it all along," coach Claude Julien told the team's official website Saturday after the Bruins beat Winnipeg 4-1. "The players know about it. ... It's a challenge that I and the rest of the team are really looking forward to, because that's the kind of challenge we need right now."
The Ducks haven't been challenged often lately, winning 13 of their last 14 overall, but they did face a tough task Sunday. Trailing 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes to visiting Vancouver, Anaheim rallied to win 4-3 in overtime, getting the tying score from Nick Bonino with 1:27 left in regulation before Corey Perry scored the winner with 1.3 seconds left in OT.
It was the second straight game the Ducks gave up two first-period goals, and their league-high 13th win when trailing first.
"We'd prefer to start playing the first 20 minutes of these games," Bonino told the NHL's official website. "We dig ourselves a hole every time, and then we allow seven or 10 shots in the last two periods combined. It's good because we have confidence that we know we can win, but we can make it a little easier on ourselves if we play a full 60 and not a 50-minute game."
Perry's goal - his NHL-best 30th winner over the past four seasons - was just Anaheim's second in 35 power-play chances over its past 11 games.
But the Ducks admit their home crowd has kept them confident - even with the occasional adversity.
"Ducks fans are passionate," said winger Matt Beleskey, who has two goals and two assists on the first three games of this homestand. "You might not have the hype of a Canadian team and the media presence, but when you come to the rink and see the fans that are coming to watch the games, they cheer every night."
The Bruins were able to slow down the Ducks on Oct. 31 at home, rallying from a pair of one-goal deficits to win 3-2 in a shootout.
Boston's Tuukka Rask made 21 stops in that victory, but Rask has been struggling lately on the road. He's 2-3-0 with a 3.60 goals-against average in his last six starts away from home.
Jonas Hiller, named Monday to the Swiss Olympic team, is 3-1-1 with a 1.78 GAA in five career starts versus the Bruins.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Boston Bruins