BOSTON - After a perfect three-game road trip, the Bruins head home Saturday night for a showdown with the New York Rangers, during which they will be in search of their fourth consecutive victory.
The Bruins (6-4-0) are sitting in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, but are just 2 points out of second, while the Rangers (8-3-0), also winners of three straight, are tied atop the Metropolitan Division with Pittsburgh.
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at TD Garden. You can catch the game on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Here's what you need to know:
What to Watch For
The Bruins and Rangers met just 10 days ago at Madison Square Garden, where the Bruins burst out to a two-goal lead, before allowing five unanswered goals in a 5-2 loss. Zane McIntyre made his NHL debut in goal and Austin Czarnik tallied his first NHL goal in that game.
It was one of just two losses for the Black & Gold on the road this season (5-2-0). Success away from TD Garden has been a theme in recent years, as the Bruins posted a 25-13-3 road record last season.
This year, the Bruins have only played three games at TD Garden and have lost two of them. It is a trend they would not like to continue. Avenging the loss to the Rangers would be a good place to start.
"We were coming off a couple of games losing there and just to start a little streak for ourselves on the winning side of things is a lot more fun for us, plane rides are a lot better back and it's really exciting for us to be able to go home on a good note," Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said following the team's win over Tampa Bay.
New York has won three straight and six of seven. For first time since 2008 the Rangers have had eight wins in the first 11 games of the season.
The Rangers are leading the NHL in goals (45) and goals per game (4.09). It is the first time since 1990-91 that the Blueshirts have recorded at least 45 goals in the first 11 games.
New York is also tied for the league lead in goal differential (plus-20). It is the best goal differential over the first 11 games in franchise history. New York has outscored its opponents, 16-4, over the last two games alone.
Derek Stepan, who had an assist in the first meeting with the Bruins, has nine points in his last seven games against the Bruins. For his career, Stepan has registered a 6-10-16 line against Boston. Jesper Fast (1-3-4) has a four-game point streak against the Bruins.
The line of Michael Grabner, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller has been immense over the last three games, combining for 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists).
According to the Rangers Twitter account, coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Antti Raanta would start in goal against the Bruins.
Wait, There's More
- David Backes, out for the last five games with an elbow injury, resumed skating earlier this week. Bruins coach Claude Julien said there is "a chance" Backes plays against the Rangers. "I don't know yet, but I hope so," Julien said before the B's game with Tampa Bay. "He skated [this week], that's all I know. He hadn't skated in a while…we're hoping that everything goes well and maybe having a chance at Saturday."
- Sean Kuraly, who made his NHL debut against Tampa Bay Thursday, was assigned to Providence Friday afternoon.
- Brad Marchand's 12 points rank as the third-highest total in the NHL. Carlo leads all NHL rookies in plus/minus at plus-9.
- Tuukka Rask has now won all six of his starts this season. He is second in wins (6), sixth in goals against average (1.48), and sixth in save percentage (.951). It is the best start of Rask's career and best season-opening win streak for a Bruins netminder since Tim Thomas began 2010-11 with wins in his first eight games.