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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Canadiens, Thursday 2/4

The Bruins (23-22-9) will look to end their current eight-game skid tonight at the Garden when they host Original Six rival Montreal (26-25-6).

Boston looked like they might pull a win out of their hat Tuesday night, fighting hard against the East leading Washington Capitals through the first 40 minutes of play. But, as the Bruins have been known to do this season, they weren’t able to complete the effort down the stretch, giving up three third period goals and eventually falling to the Caps, 4-1. The loss extended the woeful losing streak to eight games (0-6-2), a losing streak that marks the longest in the franchise’s history since 1955. Boston hasn’t lost nine straight since the 1924-25 season, when they lost 11 in a row.

Montreal was able to snap a three-game skid of their own on Tuesday night with an improbable win over Vancouver, 3-2, behind 45 saves from goalie Jaroslav Halak. The Habs currently occupy the East’s seventh seed, but have just a three-point advantage over Boston, who sits at 12th. Boston also has three games in hand over Montreal.

Here we go with some game notes, leading into tonight’s match-up on Causeway Street…

  • This will be the third meeting between these two division rivals. The teams haven’t faced one another in over two months, when Montreal handed the B’s a 5-1 loss back on Dec. 4, the night the Canadiens celebrated their franchise’s 100th anniversary. Before that, the Habs knocked off the Bruins 2-1 in overtime on Nov. 5. The B’s will face Montreal in four of their next 13 games.
  • Judging by early reports, tonight’s goaltender match-up will feature Boston’s Tuukka Rask against Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak (15-8-2, 2.43GAA). Halak hasn’t faced Boston yet this season, as Carey Price (11-17-4, 2.73GAA) was in net for both meetings earlier this season.
  • Montreal will be without their leading goal scorer for the next six weeks, as Mike Cammalleri was knocked out of action in Saturday’s game with Ottawa. Cammalleri injured his right knee in the game and won’t be back until mid-March. Cammalleri’s linemate, Andrei Kostitsyn, will also miss tonight’s game with a lower body injury.
  • Along with Cammalleri (26G, 22A), the Habs’ offense is led by center Tomas Plekanec (14G, 41A) and former Devil Scott Gomez (7G, 28A).
  • Tuesday, the Bruins faced the league’s top power play unit, the Capitals. Tonight, they go up against the second-ranked team on the man advantage, with Montreal at a 25.2% power play percentage. Boston currently ranks third on the penalty kill at 86.7%.
  • Only the Colorado Avalanche put less shots on goal than the Canadiens, whose 27.7 shots per game rank 29th in the league. Conversely, the Habs allow 32.9 shots per game from their opponent, good for 27th most league-wide.
  • A trio of familiar faces have jumped to the dark side of this storied rivalry. Former Bruins Paul Mara, Glen Metropolit, and Hal Gill all don the “bleu, blanc, et rouge” of Montreal nowadays. Mara will not be in action tonight however, as he is currently on injured reserve.

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