BOSTON - The Bruins will be aiming to snap their three-game losing skid when they welcome the Florida Panthers to TD Garden on Tuesday night. After a strong third period during Sunday's shootout loss to the Flyers, Boston is hoping to carry over some of the positives as they attempt to get back on track.
"You want to take what we did right in the third period against Philly and kind of bring that for a full 60-minute effort this time around," said Patrice Bergeron. "We're playing a good team, a team that has a lot of skill, but I think if we take care of the way we play and take care of details, that's when we've been successful."
With Torey Krug sidelined by an upper-body injury, Urho Vaakanainen will get the call on the back end, teaming with Connor Clifton on Boston's third defense pairing. It will be Vaakanainen's third career National Hockey League game.
"We'll mix them around as we see fit," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Home ice gives us an advantage to match up, but we'll see where it goes from there."
Krug's absence is a blow for Boston's power play, which ranks first in the NHL at 29.8%, but the Bruins are hoping that Matt Grzelcyk - who filled in at Krug's spot at the beginning of last season - can do the job in the interim.
"I wouldn't call it quarterback," Cassidy explained. "The puck will run much more through [Brad Marchand] than [David Pastrnak] and even through Bergy in the bumper. Facilitate is what we're going to ask him to do, get the puck to the elbows…we've seen him do it last year.
"Entries, Grizz is good there, we'll ask him to do that. Makes a good first pass, find a guy on the entry. And then move it around up top. If they take away the elbows, then he has to get his shot through."
- Cassidy added that, "Torey, I don't believe will be out long term. He may miss a few games, but we'll see how he goes this week."
- Tuukka Rask starts in goal for the Bruins, while Jake DeBrusk, Brett Ritchie, and David Backes all remain sidelined.
Video: Cassidy Speaks Before Tuesday's Matchup with Florida.
The Panthers, under the direction of new coach Joel Quenneville, are off to a solid start, sitting tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins (21 points each) at the top of the Eastern Conference Wild Card standings. Florida is paced offensively by its top line of Aleksander Barkov (5-17-22 in 17 games), Jonathan Huberdeau (9-12-21), and Evgenii Dadonov (8-8-16).
Former Bruins forwards Brett Connolly (six goals, 11 points) and Frank Vatrano (five goals, eight points) are also contributing to the Panthers' high-octane offensive attack, which ranks fourth in the league - with the Bruins and Canadiens - at 3.53 goals per game.
Florida's defensive numbers have not been as strong, ranking 26th in goals against (3.53 per game). Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, signed to a massive seven-year, $70 million deal in July, is 6-3-4 with a 3.39 goals against average and .884 save percentage.
Video: Bergeron Discusses Tuesday's Matchup with Florida.
Hello, Old Friend
In addition to Connolly and Vatrano, the Panthers also have old friend Noel Acciari in the mix. The 27-year-old Rhode Island native spent his first four NHL seasons in Boston and was a critical contributor to the Bruins' fourth line for the past two years, particularly during last spring's run to the Stanley Cup Final, when he teamed up with Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom, and Chris Wagner.
"I think it will [be weird]," said Kuraly. "I think it's kind of nice that we have an inside scoop of what he brings because if you don't, I think you get surprised by him. He's a strong, strong kid having a strong season, too. Definitely someone to keep an eye out for."
Acciari, who signed a three-year contract with a $1.67 average annual value on July 1, has four goals in 14 games this season. He has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, but is expected to return on Tuesday night.
"I'm excited to be here. A different side, but still excited to be back. Expecting a really good game," said Acciari. "We'll see what happens. There's still a couple more things for me to go over to see if I can play, but if I can, it's gonna be very exciting. It will be fun for me. It will be different, that's for sure.
"Boston and New England is what I knew, but I had a great opportunity here in Florida. I thought it was the best opportunity for me and my family. I thought it was the next step in my career and I'm happy with my choice."
Video: Acciari Speaks Before His Return to Face the B's.
Home of the Brave
The Bruins will host Military Appreciation Night against the Panthers, as the team honors local military members, veterans, and their families. To show their support, David Backes, Brandon Carlo, Charlie Coyle, Grzelcyk, Krug, Karson Kuhlman, Kuraly, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, John Moore, and Wagner will each purchase $2,500 worth of tickets to tonight's game for local military members.
"It's great, we love to have them," said Kuraly. "We appreciate their service and sacrifice. To have them at a game that maybe they wouldn't always be able to go to, it's something we're happy to do as players. I think it can give us some joy to bring that to others also. We get to see them after the game as well. Special night for them, special night for us."
The team will also wear camouflaged Spoked-B jerseys during warmups and will use American flag and Canadian flag stick tape during the game.
Video: Kuraly Speaks Ahead of Tuesday's Game vs. Florida.
Tuesday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen - David Krejci - Charlie Coyle
Anders Bjork - Par Lindholm - Zach Senyshyn
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk - Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen - Connor Clifton