Without their two top scorers, the Boston Bruins hope to get back on track offensively and resume their chase for the Northeast Division title.
The Carolina Hurricanes, meanwhile, are simply searching for a victory.
The short-handed Bruins look to win for the sixth time in eight games and sweep the season series from the free-falling Hurricanes on Saturday night.
Playing without leading goal-scorer Brad Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron Boston (26-10-4) struggled on the attack and dropped back to second place in the Northeast and fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 home loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.
Marchand was hurt a day earlier when he was elbowed in the head by New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov who was given a four-game suspension for the hit. Marchand suffered a mild concussion and there is no timetable for his return.
Bergeron, who has missed the past five games, is also out indefinitely with a concussion.
“Obviously, we do miss them,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “But, at the same time, it’s not like we can’t play without them.”
Boston, though, had a difficult time against the defensive-minded Islanders. After scoring 11 goals their previous two games, the Bruins only managed one despite getting off 31 shots.
Right wing Nathan Horton may be able to help carry the load, since he’s scored in each of the first two wins over the Hurricanes.
After outscoring Carolina 11-5 in the first two meetings, the Bruins look to beat the Hurricanes for the second time this week following their 6-2 victory on Monday.
They’re also hoping to stay close for the Northeast lead, trailing the Canadiens by one point heading into Saturday’s action with eight games remaining.
A date with the injury-depleted Hurricanes could help their cause. Carolina, which held a three-point lead atop the Southeast Division on March 12, has gone 1-13-1 in its last 15 contests to fall 12 points behind division-leading Washington and into 14th in the East.
The Hurricanes (16-22-2) dropped their seventh straight in a 3-1 road loss to the Capitals on Thursday. It’s their longest skid since going 0-10-4 from Oct. 10 - Nov. 13, 2009.
“We definitely deserve a different fate over these past 12, 13 games,” coach Kirk Muller said. “It’s not there, but this is a learning thing for them and we have to stay the course.”
Eric Staal—second on Carolina with 16 goals—hasn’t produced one during the losing streak, but he may be able to provide a spark against the Bruins. He scored in four straight meetings versus Boston before coming up empty on Monday.
The Hurricanes have struggled at both ends, getting outscored 59-24 over their last 15 contests.
Goaltender Dan Ellis (sore knee) missed Thursday’s contest and his status is uncertain against the Bruins.
Justin Peters could get the start despite going 1-4-0 with a 2.83 goals-against average in his last seven games. Peters, though, allowed two goals on four shots before Ellis replaced him in Monday’s loss.
Boston’s Tuukka Rask had 40 saves to earn the win in that meeting and improved to 3-2-0 with a 2.60 GAA in five career starts against the Hurricanes.