BRUINS (30-15-2) at BLACKHAWKS (31-8-11)
TV: NBC; NHLN-CA
Last 10: Boston 5-5-0; Chicago 4-1-5
Season series: The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are meeting for the first time since June 24, when Chicago beat Boston in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The teams play again in Boston on March 27.
Big story: The first game of the season between last spring's Stanley Cup Finalists finds each hanging on to first place in its division after an up-and-down start in the New Year.
Bruins: It's been seven months since the Bruins had to watch the Blackhawks celebrate their Stanley Cup victory on the ice at TD Garden. Time has erased some of the pain, but center Patrice Bergeron said Saturday that the loss still stings.
"It's hard still," he said. "It hurts to see that 2013 on the wall there? But it's in the past, and you move on."
More important to the Bruins now is looking ahead. A 4-2 road win against the Dallas Stars on Thursday kept Boston in first place in the Atlantic Division, and Bergeron said the Bruins have to be ready for an early start in a building packed with more than 21,000 fans.
"Obviously there's going to be some emotions, and an atmosphere that's going to be great," he said. "We need to make sure we're ready."
Blackhawks: Chicago has been just as inconsistent as the Bruins since the start of the New Year. But the Blackhawks are coming into this game after one of their best efforts of the season, a 4-2 victory against the League-leading Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Ordinarily, there might be a letdown after an emotional victory such as the one against Anaheim. But Chicago captain Jonathan Toews feels that seeing team they had to beat to win the Stanley Cup will eliminate any chance of a drop-off.
"There's going to be that history there," Toews said Saturday. "I think it's fresh in their memory and it's definitely fresh in ours, that we still want to prove we're the defending Stanley Cup champions. I think there's a lot of respect between both teams, considering the way that series was played, but [this] is a game that we want to win ... probably more than any other game throughout the season."
Who's hot: Bergeron has had a goal and an assist in each of the Bruins' past two games. … Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa scored twice against Anaheim and has four goals and two assists during a four-game points streak.
Injury report: The Bruins are missing two of their regular defensemen, Dougie Hamilton (concussion) and Dennis Seidenberg (season-ending knee injury), as well as forwards Jordan Caron (back) and Chris Kelly (broken right leg). … Chicago forward Kris Versteeg left the game against the Ducks with an upper-body injury but passed concussion protocols, skated at practice Saturday and will play, according to coach Joel Quenneville. Backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (shoulder surgery) is out for the season.
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