A month into the regular season, the Boston Bruins are off to a flying start. The New York Rangers are off to an inconsistent beginning and may have some injury concerns about their best player.
The Bruins will try to run their winning streak to a season-high five games on Friday night against the host Rangers, who are holding their breath on a lower-body injury to Artemi Panarin.
Boston made it four straight wins and improved to 8-0-1 since their only regulation loss of the season on Jan. 18 when Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway 36 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime in Wednesday's 3-2 road win over the Rangers. After coming back from an early one-goal deficit and blowing a one-goal lead in the third, the Bruins have won their last three games by one goal and are 6-1-2 in one-goal games so far.
"That's one thing that we do really well," said Marchand, who has three of his eight goals during Boston's winning streak. "Even when we're not at our best -- you can tell we weren't (and) we didn't play very well tonight -- we just have that attitude where we pick each other up, (and) we don't get down on each other.
Marchand's game-winner came after defenseman Charlie McAvoy broke up an odd-man rush in the defensive zone. He also scored on a night when the Bruins allowed a season-high 35 shots on goal, doing so after yielding an average of 25 shots in the first three games of the winning streak.
"It was probably the toughest night our D corps has had," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after Tuukka Rask made 33 saves. "We were not crisp with the puck. The group as a whole, we looked our age tonight, but we got through it."
The Rangers have gained a point in five of their last six games (3-1-2) since a four-game skid (0-3-1) from Jan. 19-26 in games that were decided by one goal. Their biggest concern after absorbing their sixth one-goal loss of the season was a lower-body injury to Panarin, whose five goals and 15 points lead the team.
Panarin was injured during the second period Wednesday, and his only minutes in the third period were a shift on a power play. The Rangers did not practice Thursday, and any further update on Panarin's condition will likely come on Friday.
"He's got a little bit of a lower-body injury and we'll assess him," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "We thought that he could get out there on the power play. It was something we just decided to try. If it wasn't going to work, we were going to pull him off early."
Regardless of whether Panarin is healthy enough to play, the Rangers are hoping to get their power play and Mika Zibanejad going. The Blueshirts are 2 for 25 on the man advantage in the last eight games and Zibanejad has one goal and two assists so far.
He scored a career-high 41 goals last season, but on Wednesday, Quinn felt better about Zibanejad, especially after he was stopped by Rask on a 2-on-1 during the second period.
"I thought he was on the puck. I thought there were great scoring chances. He had a swagger to him tonight. I think he feels pretty good right now."
Boston is 5-0-1 in the past six meetings with the Rangers.
--Field Level Media