The Boston Bruins sent a resounding message to one potential first-round playoff opponent and Original Six rival in their last game.
They’d like to do the same Saturday.
The Bruins look to cap a perfect three-game homestand and move closer to clinching the Northeast Division title as they face the New York Rangers in a possible marquee matchup of goaltenders.
The first challenge for Boston may be avoiding a letdown following Thursday’s emotional showdown with Montreal. In the rematch after Zdeno Chara’s(notes) hit seriously injured Max Pacioretty(notes) in the archrivals’ previous meeting, Chara’s Bruins overwhelmed the Canadiens in a 7-0 rout.
They scored three times in the first period and four in the third, capped by Gregory Campbell’s(notes) 3-on-5 short-handed goal. The victory greatly enhanced Boston’s chances of winning the division, taking a five-point lead on second-place Montreal with two games in hand.
“That’s the way we wish we could play every night. It should be a big confidence booster for us going forward,” goalie Tim Thomas(notes) told the Bruins’ official website. “It’s the blueprint of the type of game we want to play.”
Concern surrounded the club after a 1-3-3 stretch leading into this homestand, but the Bruins (41-22-10) have outscored their first two opponents 11-1. They outshot the Canadiens 41-24.
Boston, however, probably won’t expect another offensive outburst against New York considering the teams have averaged a combined 3.2 goals in their last 15 matchups. The road team has won 3-2 in both meetings this season, with the finale slated for April 4 in Manhattan.
If the Rangers move up one spot in the Eastern Conference - they’re two points behind Montreal for sixth - and the Bruins remain third, these teams would open the playoffs against each other.
Thomas leads the league with a 2.02 goals-against average, but Lundqvist has been the superior netminder lately, going 7-1-1 with a 1.86 GAA and two shutouts in his last nine starts. He made 29 saves through overtime Thursday against Ottawa, but allowed one shootout goal in five attempts as the Rangers lost 2-1.
“I don’t want to think about missing a point or winning a point,” Lundqvist said. “We just have to move on. Hopefully it will be more than enough in the end.”
New York (40-30-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped but remains in good position to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
“This team will respond,” coach John Tortorella said. “We take the point, stuff it in your back pocket, and move by this and get ready for a team that just spanked Montreal.”
Among Boston’s standouts against Montreal were Campbell and Nathan Horton(notes), who each scored twice. Chara, who has six points in his last two games, added three assists, as did David Krejci(notes) and Milan Lucic(notes).
“Obviously a lot of guys stepped up in their games and played huge,” Chara said.
While Callahan has just one goal in his last 13 games against Boston, Lundqvist has never allowed more than three goals in a game versus the Bruins. He’s 14-5-2 with a 1.49 GAA and four shutouts against them.