RALEIGH - After a 4-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers on Saturday night in Sunrise, the Bruins feel like they have some positive momentum on their side heading into Carolina for a Sunday tilt against the Hurricanes.
Sure, the Panthers had injuries on their side, and were playing the second end of a back-to-back at home, but the Bruins needed to stop a two-game skid and they did just that.
"It's important for us," defenseman Torey Krug said following the win that started a four-game road trip through Florida, Carolina, St. Louis and Nashville. "It has to start somewhere for us, and we want to make sure we maintain the same mentality going into [Sunday] and hopefully use it as momentum."
The Bruins (21-17-4) picked up two more points from their Atlantic Division rivals to go 4-0-0 against them so far this season. Just one matchup remains between the two teams. With 46 points through 42 games, Boston was able to jump back into a playoff spot above Toronto (44 points, 39 games play) and Ottawa (44 points, 38 games played).
For the second time this season, the Bruins are playing a back-to-back in Florida and then Carolina the next night - only this time around, the Sunday game is an early 5:00 p.m ET start at PNC Arena.
Catch the game on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Here is what you need to know:
What to Watch For
The Bruins didn't have the smoothest start to the night on Saturday in Florida, allowing an early flurry of chances on Tuukka Rask, but the netminder stayed strong.
"He plays great every night - he's been extremely good this year and he gives us an opportunity to win every game," Brad Marchand said of Rask, who made 25 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, and the 35th of his career to tie Frank Brimsek on the team's all-time list.
Julien has not confirmed a starting goaltender for Sunday's game against Carolina. Zane McIntyre could get his third career NHL start, after starting his first two NHL games in New York and Montreal.
McIntyre is 10-0-0 in Providence this season with a 1.41 goals-against average and .951 save percentage, and was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for December.
The netminder is quick to note how different the adjustment is to the NHL level, but there's no doubt that he's come back to the big club with a high level of confidence.
With no morning skate on Sunday, given the earlier game time, the best indication for a starting goalie could come during Head Coach Claude Julien's pregame media availability, or more likely, during warmups around 4:30 p.m. ET.
Though the Bruins weathered an early push from the Panthers on Saturday, they withstood it, got on the board with a timely shorthanded goal by Brad Marchand, and were able to extend the lead.
David Backes scored in his first game back from a concussion that had caused him to miss three games. It was a textbook Backes deflection from the goal mouth, and marked his 10th of the season.
Video: BOS@FLA: Backes deflects Krejci's shot past Reimer
Marchand added a power play goal to make it 3-0, and Riley Nash scored on a tough angle shot that gave the Bruins a solid 4-0 cushion in the third period.
"We've had some tough nights where we've worked hard and we haven't gotten the results," said Julien. "This is one of the few games that we've been able to extend the league and get ourselves a win that we feel much better about."
Marchand's second goal marked the Bruins' sixth goal on the man advantage in their past eight games. He's been playing with Krug, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak since the Bruins made their unit switches a couple of weeks ago.
"I think we're starting to get in sync a little more," said Marchand. "We've played together for a little bit now, six or seven games and I think we're rolling around 30 percent."
"It's good that the power play is starting to score more and we're moving the puck a little better, but still with time and more opportunities, we'll get even better and it's something we'll continue to work on."
Opposing View: Carolina Hurricanes
The Bruins and Hurricanes play their third and final game of the season against each other on Sunday. The series is spilt so far, with the Bruins having earned a 2-1 overtime win on Dec. 1 in Boston and Carolina earning a 3-2 overtime win on Dec. 23 in Raleigh.
The Canes (17-15-7) open a four-game homestand on Sunday when they host the Black & Gold. They have 41 points through 39 games on the season, and aren't too far out of the playoff picture. They most recently dropped a 2-1 loss to Chicago on Friday, but will have fresher legs than the Bruins.
Carolina defenseman and Boston native Noah Hanifin has tallied four points (two goals, two assists) in five career games against his hometown team.
The Hurricanes still own the top-ranked penalty kill (87.9 percent) and are first in takeaways (364) - Jeff Skinner has 37 of them, good for fourth in the NHL. They also rank in the top-10 in faceoff win percentage.
Wait, There's More
Former Hurricane, defenseman John-Michael Liles, is getting close to a return to the lineup. He has missed the Bruins' past 20 games after sustaining a concussion on Nov. 27.
"He's probably ready to go, I think, from what I'm being told, and we have to make a decision, whether we think he's ready or not to jump in," Julien had said following Saturday morning's pregame skate in Sunrise.
"I've just been trying to work my way back after being out for a number of weeks, and I've been feeling good the last little while, so we'll see when I get in," Liles said.
Patrice Bergeron landed seven shots on goal against Florida netminder James Reimer, but couldn't find the back of the net. Frank Vatrano wasn't far behind with eight attempts and five that hit the mark. David Pastrnak was only credited with one shot on goal, but he was on the move. After nine games without a goal, and seven of those coming after he missed two games to injury, Pastrnak looks close to breaking out.
Video: Bruins speak to reporters after win at Florida