BRUINS (24-9-1) at STARS (20-15-1)
TV: NESN (HD), TXA 21
Boston 8-2-0; Dallas 5-5-0
This is the only meeting of the season between these inter-conference opponents. The Bruins doubled up the Stars 6-3 at TD Garden on Feb. 3, with Patrice Bergeron
scoring twice and adding an assist in a physical affair that featured three fights in the first four seconds after the opening faceoff.
The Bruins returned their Stanley Cup-winning team from a year ago mostly intact, but one player who left via free agency was Michael Ryder
. He signed a free-agent deal with the Stars this offseason, and has been producing. His 14 goals lead the team, and he has 25 points in 36 games.
Ryder said of the matchup, "It’s just another hockey game and there's definitely going to be a little bit of emotion involved there. We're definitely going to want to beat those guys, especially me."
The hottest team in the NHL for the past two months stayed that way in Phoenix on Wednesday. The Bruins beat the Coyotes 2-1 on Dennis Seidenberg
's goal 58 seconds into overtime. Tuukka Rask
failed in a bid for his third consecutive shutout, but still turned aside 21 of 22 shots.
The win was Boston's 21st in its past 24 games.
"We take pride in our defensive game without the puck," coach Claude Julien said. "Confidence grows with each game, and we believe 99 percent of the time, we will get great goaltending. However, we know there will be challenges ahead, so we have to guard against overconfidence."
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen
returned from a 12-game absence due to a groin injury Thursday, but he and the Stars weren't at their best.
Lehtonen made 25 saves, but allowed all four goals in a 4-1 home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Steve Mason made 30 saves to hold the Stars at bay.
"The first half we were all over them, but their goalie played good," Lehtonen said. "That was a big key for them. I had an OK game, but their goalie was just phenomenal."
Boston's David Krejci
has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last four games. … Radek Dvorak
has 4 assists in his last five games for the Stars.
Injury Report: Sheldon Souray
(ankle) and Stephane Robidas
(foot) missed the Stars' previous game. Brenden Morrow
(knee) left the previous game with a knee injury.
Despite the Bruins allowing the fifth-most shots in the League per game, they have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL this season.
"Kari gave us exactly what we needed. I thought he looked like Kari and we just couldn't reward him by putting something in the net. I was encouraged by his first game for sure." -- Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan, speaking about Lehtonen's game Thursday.