Two of the hottest teams in the NHL will clash in Boston on Monday as the Bruins host the Anaheim Ducks in a Columbus Day matinee.
Both the Bruins and Ducks are off to fast starts, each winning four of their first five games behind strong defenses. The meeting is the first of two between the clubs this year, with Boston visiting Anaheim on March 18.
The Bruins have won the past two meetings following a nine-game losing streak in the all-time series.
While Boston’s strong performance is no surprise as one of the favorites to contend for the Stanley Cup, longshot Anaheim has shocked the league with the strength of its play. Its 4-1 start matches its best in team history.
The goaltending duo of John Gibson and Ryan Miller have allowed a league-low-tying six goals, as the Ducks’ sole loss was the only game in which they allowed more than one score. That production in net is all the more necessary considering the offense has generated just 11 goals.
Miller was in net for Anaheim on Friday in a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Cam Fowler scored one of two goals in the second period of the win, the 60th of his career to match Scott Niedermayer for the franchise lead by a defenseman.
“We fought hard,” Fowler said. “It wasn’t pretty by any means, but I liked the fight from our guys. Millsy stepped up and kept us in it the whole night. It was a good team effort from everybody.”
The Ducks squandered a power-play opportunity in the contest and are now 0-for-10 on chances to begin the season. Conversely, the team has allowed just one goal over 16 penalty kill situations.
After getting Friday off, Gibson is expected in net for Anaheim against Boston. The contest marks the end of a four-game road trip for the Ducks.
The Bruins, meanwhile, kicked off their home slate with a 3-0 victory over the hapless New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Tuukka Rask stopped all 31 shots he faced as Boston continued its strong start in its first game at TD Garden since losing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues last season.
Like the Ducks, the Bruins have been carried by their goalies, Rask and Jaroslav Halak combining to allow eight goals. The two have alternated starts to this point, though Rask remains the No. 1 option.
“We’re still working on our game like every other team, and I thought that’s where Tuukka really stepped up and that’s when he should get the credit,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy after Saturday’s win.
Brad Marchand scored his team-leading fourth goal in the contest in addition to collecting his 300th career NHL assist.
Following Monday’s game, Boston will conclude a three-game homestand with a matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Anaheim will return home for three games, starting with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media