The Boston Bruins hope the rest of their five-game homestand goes better than the opener, starting Saturday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time in nearly five years.
The Bruins (17-11-3) opened the homestand with a 3-1 loss to New Jersey on Thursday after sweeping a three-game road trip. Bruins coach Claude Julien is wary of the team becoming too relaxed at home, where it has lost its last two games after going 7-2-1 at the TD Banknorth Garden.
"There is no doubt that it is good to be back home," Julien told the team's official Web site. "But it's all about being cautious. The minute you start feeling comfortable is the minute you get yourself into trouble.
"I like the fact that we're home. It's something that's good, but nonetheless, all this work we've done on the road will not do us much good if we can't continue to do the same thing on this home stretch."
The Bruins also play Ottawa, Pittsburgh and St. Louis on the homestand.
Boston has received outstanding play from goaltender Alex Auld, who is likely to make his fifth consecutive start after being acquired from Phoenix for a minor leaguer and a fifth-round draft pick on Dec. 6.
One night earlier, the Bruins lost top goaltender Tim Thomas to a groin injury in a loss to New Jersey. The team lost backup goalie Manny Fernandez for the season after he underwent knee surgery last week.
The injuries have thrust Auld into the starting role and he's responded with a 3-1-0 record and a 1.76 goals-against average. He struggled in nine games with the Coyotes, going 3-6-0 with a 3.54 GAA.
Auld has won his last two starts against Columbus (14-11-6), allowing six goals on 57 shots.
Marc Savard, who scored Boston's lone goal Thursday, has three goals and one assist in the last three contests after enduring a six-game goal drought. The center has eight goals and a team-leading 37 points.
The Blue Jackets have split the only two games they have played in Boston, the last one being a 7-2 loss on Jan. 18, 2003. Columbus beat the Bruins 5-4 in overtime in the only meeting last season.
The Blue Jackets are coming off a 2-1-2 homestand, having closed it with a 4-2 win over Colorado on Wednesday.
Fredrik Norrena could get a second consecutive start after making 15 saves against the Avalanche. The goaltender has won his last three appearances and has a 2.02 GAA in his last six. Norrena stopped 22 shots to win last season's game against Boston.
"He's a solid NHL goalie and the reason we were .500 last year," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's nice to know that you have two goalies and it doesn't matter who you put in right now."
That other netminder is Pascal Leclaire, who has not won in five starts since a 3-2 shootout victory over Detroit on Nov. 24. He has a 3.32 GAA in his last three games.
The Jackets activated Jiri Novotny from the injured list Wednesday, and the center had an assist in his return after missing eight games due to a concussion.
After visiting Boston, Columbus will play six of its next seven games at home, starting Tuesday against Calgary.