The Boston Bruins will kick off a four-game road trip and look to keep pace in the Atlantic Division when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
The Bruins (43-20-5, 91 points) are two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, who will face off against each other Monday. Boston is coming off a 5-2 home win against the Blue Jackets on Saturday and is 11-2-1 in its past 14 games.
“I feel like now we have a pretty mature group,” forward Erik Haula said. “That’s what we talked about in between the second and third (periods on Saturday). If we just stick with it, it’s going to come. And ultimately, if we do the right things, we are going to end up on top. It is nice that it happened, and it’s just a big win.”
Charlie McAvoy has been on a roll for the Bruins of late with seven points — all assists — in his past four games.
“(Hampus) Lindholm breaks up the puck very well and that frees Charlie up to activate,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They are really good at reading off each other … as long as it works out for you. Like a goal was scored the other night, but if it comes the other way it’s not going to look as good, is it?”
Linus Ullmark will get the nod in goal for Boston.
The Blue Jackets (32-32-5, 69 points) head into the rematch looking to snap a six-game slide. It’s been a rough stretch for Columbus, which is 4-7-4 in its past 15 games.
“(The Bruins) outplayed us for the majority of that game,” forward Justin Danforth said. “I feel like when you take a shift off against these guys, they jump down your throat pretty easily. … I think we battled hard, but these moral victories aren’t going to cut it for us. We want to come in here and win.”
Finding consistency has been an issue for the Blue Jackets. Against Boston, they led 2-1 before the Bruins came back, and on Thursday they fell behind 2-0 to the New York Islanders before battling back to tie it.
“It’s just not good enough, and that’s something we talked about before the game, that we didn’t like our start (against the Islanders),” forward Gustav Nyquist said.
“It’s a learning curve,” associate head coach Pascal Vincent said.
Vincent has run the bench for the Blue Jackets since coach Brad Larsen entered COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday, along with assistant coach Steve McCarthy. Vincent told reporters that Larsen was feeling better and likely to return in time for Monday’s game.
The Blue Jackets have allowed at least three goals in each of their past eight games. Elvis Merzlikins started the past five games in net and went 0-3-2 with a 3.69 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.
–Field Level Media