BRUINS (26-14-7) at AVALANCHE (24-17-6)
TV: NESN (HD), ALTITUDE (HD)
Boston 6-3-1; Colorado 4-5-1
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these clubs. In their most recent matchup, Craig Anderson made 29 saves and a shorthanded goal by David Jones
proved decisive as Colorado won 4-3 in Boston on Oct. 12, 2009.
When the Avalanche acquired Tomas Fleischmann from the Capitals on Nov. 30, they hoped the young forward would find his game in Denver and add some punch to their offense. He did exactly that, providing 8 goals and 21 points in 22 games and making up for the absence of Chris Stewart due to a broken hand. Stewart has since returned, but now the Avs will be without Fleischmann for the remainder of the season after blood clots were discovered in his lungs. The blood thinners he will have to take for the next several months will keep him off the ice.
"He's obviously been one of our best forwards since he's arrived," teammate Matt Duchene
told the Denver Post. "For me, he's been a great linemate. It's tough to lose a guy like that, but we've been a team where, all year, when we've had injuries, we've pressed forward and had other guys step up."
One of the NHL's best road teams with a 14-5-4 record, Boston has struggled to find the same level of consistent play at TD Garden, where it is just 12-9-3 after Thursday's 4-2 loss to Buffalo. The Bruins took a pair of one-goal leads courtesy of Dennis Seidenberg
and Gregory Campbell
, but the game entered the third period tied and Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville struck for the Sabres against Tuukka Rask
to lift the visitors to the two points.
"From start to finish, I don't think there's much to say here except we were totally flat tonight. From the first player to the last," coach Claude Julien said. "We came out flat tonight and never seemed to find our game. Even in the third period -- you're coming in there tied and you've got an opportunity in 20 minutes to seal your fate and it just wasn't happening tonight."
Coming off an emotional overtime win against division rival Vancouver, the news about Fleischmann may have taken the wind out of Colorado's sails, as Nashville came into the Pepsi Center and rolled 5-1 on Thursday. Duchene's goal with 3:37 remaining averted the shutout. Fleischmann's loss will particularly be felt late in games -- 14 of his points came in the third period or overtime -- but coach Joe Sacco wasn't interested in any excuses following the loss.
"We're all professionals," he said. "As much as you don't like to hear any news like that about any player, especially one of your teammates, we have to move forward. We have to carry on. I think we've been very good about dealing with injuries. I don't think that's an excuse for tonight. We got what we deserved."
Campbell has 4 goals and 4 assists in his last seven games for the Bruins. Seidenberg has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last four games. Tim Thomas
, likely to start in goal Saturday, has won his last four starts. … Milan Hejduk
has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last three games for the Avalanche.
Boston defenseman Andrew Ference
is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. … Fleischmann and defenseman Kyle Quincey
(shoulder) have seen their seasons come to an end for Colorado, and forward Ryan O'Reilly
is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
The Bruins' loss Thursday was only their second in 23 games this season when they score the first goal (18-2-3). … The Avalanche have the fourth-best goals-per-game average at 3.19 and the third-worst goals-against at 3.21.
On the bright side, Colorado got an important member of its defense back Thursday as Kyle Cumiskey
played for the first time since suffering a concussion in an Oct. 30 game and saw 19 minutes of action.
"Concussions can be scary," he said prior to the game. "You never know if you're going to be back in a week or, in my case, over two months."