BLUE JACKETS (3-13-1) at BRUINS (9-7-0)
TV: FS-O (HD), NESN (HD)
Columbus 3-7-0; Boston 7-3-0
This is the first of two meetings this season. Boston took the lone game last season as Tyler Seguin
notched the only goal in the shootout to give his team the 3-2 victory in Columbus on March 15.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins have kicked their offense into high gear and are on a six-game winning streak, while the Blue Jackets have the fewest points in the League and are desperately searching for a victory.
The Columbus fans haven't had much to cheer about this season as their Blue Jackets have struggled on both ends of the ice with just a 2.24 goals-per-game average and a League-worst 3.71 goals-against average. And even when the Jackets get off to a strong start like they did Tuesday against Minnesota, they cannot carry that momentum throughout the rest of the game.
While a goal each from Antoine Vermette
and Mark Letestu
staked Columbus to a two-goal first-period lead over the visiting Wild, four unanswered from Minnesota the rest of the way led to another tough loss.
"For 30 minutes (we) absolutely dominated them, probably our best 30 minutes of the year and then we just seemed to go into a shell," coach Scott Arniel said following the game. "We just seemed to proceed to turn pucks over."
Boston has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL recently, after a mild Stanley Cup hangover resulted in its 3-7-0 record to start the season. But an offense paced by Seguin (team-leading 11 goals, tying his rookie-year output) and teammates Milan Lucic
(second on club with 14 points) and Brad Marchand
(six-game points streak) have given the Bruins the spark they needed to get right back in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.
Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the Devils was another example of Boston turning it up at precisely the right time. After the Bruins exchanged the first three goals of the game with New Jersey, newcomer Benoit Pouliot
would seal the win with just over three minutes left in regulation on a snap shot off a rebound. The goal was much needed for Pouliot, who saw his playing time drastically diminished in the Bruins' game on Nov. 10 against Edmonton and was scratched two days later against Buffalo.
"I'm trying to work hard as much as I can," Pouliot told Boston Bruins
TV after the game. "It's going to pay off in the long run. Tonight I got some more shifts out there and it went pretty well."
Marchand has 4 goals and 5 assists over his current six-game points streak for the Bruins.
Forward Kristian Huselius
(upper body) and defenseman Radek Martinek
(concussion) remain out indefinitely for Columbus. … The Bruins have two players listed as day-to-day: Daniel Paille
, who has been out since a puck deflected into his face on Nov. 7, and Andrew Ference
, who missed the last two games with a lower-body injury.
The Bruins have been a scoring machine lately, averaging 5.66 goals a game over their current six-game winning streak.
While Marchand has been one of the best forwards for the B's recently, he was not above being benched by coach Claude Julien for the last nine minutes of Tuesday's second period after picking up his second penalty of the game. But the young Canadian wasted no time getting back on the score sheet with a breakaway goal six seconds into the third period.
"Any time you get benched, the message is being sent to you. You want to respond," Marchand said. "Everyone wants to show that they can be depended on."