Two teams veering off in completely opposite directions will open the post-holiday break when the Ottawa Senators visit the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night in a matchup of Atlantic Division rivals. While Ottawa has been in a spiral for over five weeks, the resurgent Bruins are seeking their fifth win in row.
Boston matched its season-high winning streak with a 3-1 win over Detroit on Saturday, capping a span in which it has surrendered only four goals. “It’s always good to go into a break feeling good and on a little streak,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “But we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. We have to make sure when we come back we’re playing the same way.” A seven-game slide to close out November was the start of a lengthy slump for the Senators, who have dropped 15 of their last 18 (3-12-3). Ottawa has lost three in a row, but played well in its last two — a shootout defeat at league-best Tampa Bay and a 1-0 setback at Florida.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TVAS, TSN5 (Ottawa), NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE SENATORS (11-15-8): Ottawa could have reinforcements in the lineup — netminder Craig Anderson missed the final game before the break due to illness and defenseman Dion Phaneuf was away to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s child. Bobby Ryan scored three goals in four games before missing Saturday’s loss at Florida, but coach Guy Boucher was hopeful he could return after the break. Anderson won all four regular-season meetings last season, allowing six goals.
ABOUT THE BRUINS (19-10-5): Boston’s turnaround is due in no small start to No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask, who is 8-0-1 in his last nine starts and was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week. Rask, who had permitted at least three goals in six consecutive starts prior to his hot streak, compiled a 3-0-0 record with a 1.30 goals-against average and .954 save percentage last week. Boston’s top line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has yet to yield an allow even-strength goal.
1. Marchand has seven goals and 10 assists in the past dozen games.
2. Ottawa has won six in a row in Boston, including all three playoff games last season.
3. Bergeron has scored half his 10 goals in the past six games.
PREDICTION: Bruins 4, Senators 2