Strong play on the road is keeping the Boston Bruins in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Now, they'll try to win a fourth consecutive game at Toronto for the first time in more than 29 years on Saturday night when they face the last-place Maple Leafs.
|Zdeno Chara reeled in Evgeni Malkin on Wednesday, helping the Bruins win 2-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Including two victories this season, Boston (29-23-5) has won three in a row and five of six at Toronto (23-27-9). The Bruins haven't won four straight road games against their Original Six rival since a six-game winning streak from March 26, 1977-Dec. 5, 1978.
They had won all three meetings this season before dropping the last one in Boston, 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 17.
The Bruins opened a five-game road trip Wednesday with a 2-1 win at Pittsburgh. That was the team's third road victory in a row and fifth in the last six. The Bruins last posted four consecutive road wins from Feb. 17-23 of last season.
Their current road success, though, has been canceled out by a four-game home losing streak. That uneven play has the Bruins tied with the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, one point ahead of Atlanta.
"It seems like we're playing better on the road, so we just have to play like we did tonight (for the rest of the trip), lots of big efforts and hard work," Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara told the team's official Web site after Wednesday's victory. "Then, when we come back home from the road, we just have to continue to play that way."
Chuck Kobasew, who is tied with Marco Sturm for the team lead with 19 goals, could be back in the lineup after sitting out Wednesday with a back injury. The right wing has gone pointless in three games in a row and hasn't scored in four straight, but has three goals in two games at Toronto this season.
|Mats Sundin (center) has two goals in his last three games, but only one in four meetings with Boston. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Boston also could see Aaron Ward return after receiving a scare when he was taken to the hospital with a neck injury suffered against the Penguins.
Ward was skating in to hit Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar near the end boards when Gonchar accidentally got either his forearm or his stick up and struck Ward in the neck. There was no penalty on the play, and Bruins coach Claude Julien said the defenseman was coughing up blood.
"I got there and he was making a choking sound, holding his throat and gasping for air," Chara said.
Toronto, which has a conference-low 55 points, is looking to avoid a third consecutive loss after allowing four power-play goals in Thursday's 5-4 defeat to the New York Islanders.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," said Maple Leafs left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who had a goal and an assist. "We still have to play. You can't just give up and do nothing."
The Leafs' penalty-killing unit has struggled all season, preventing opponents from scoring just 78.4 percent of the time to rank ahead of only Carolina (77.7) in the East.
Mats Sundin, Toronto's leader with 24 goals and 59 points, has two goals in the last three games after being held to just as many in the previous 14. The center has scored only once in four season meetings with Boston.