Preview: Bruins at Maple Leafs
John Tavares has scored 10 of his team-leading 29 goals in his last 11 games to pay significant dividends on the seven-year, $77 million contract he signed in the summer. Fresh off tallying twice to eclipse the 300-goal plateau in his career, Tavares looks to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a split of their four-game season series against the visiting Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
"It's always that much more satisfying when it contributes in a big win," said Tavares, who also had an assist in Thursday's 4-2 win versus New Jersey to record at least three points in a contest for the fourth time this season. The 28-year-old netted his team's lone goal in a 5-1 setback in Boston on Nov. 10 and had an assist in a 4-2 victory versus the visiting Bruins two weeks later. The Original Six rivals are staring up at white-hot Tampa Bay and could be positioning for another first-round playoff meeting, and that could be music to the ears of David Pastrnak (team-leading 25 goals, 52 points). Boston's lone All-Star representative, who was held off the scoresheet in Thursday's 4-2 setback versus Washington, has erupted for eight points (five goals, three assists) in three encounters against Toronto this season -- including four in the romp on Nov. 10.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, NESN (Boston), CBC, Sportsnet1, CITY (Toronto)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (25-15-4): Brad Marchand has collected seven of his club-high 31 assists this season versus the Maple Leafs while Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and set up two others in his lone game against them on Nov. 10. "Playing (Toronto) in the playoffs last year brings that emotion level, so it should be a good task, we're looking forward to it," Jake DeBrusk, who has five points (four goals, one assist) in his last seven games, told the Boston Herald. Fellow forward David Krejci scored on the power play in the third period against the Capitals for his first goal since he netted five in an eight-game stretch during December.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (28-13-2): The status of Frederik Andersen remains in question as the veteran goaltender attempts to work his way back from a groin injury that has sidelined him since the Christmas break. "We need to get back to a point where we're comfortable and not making things worse, so that's where the main focus is and it's very close," the 29-year-old Dane told TSN after participating in practice on Friday. Coach Mike Babcock initially penciled in Michael Hutchinson to face Boston and Andersen to return for Monday's game versus Colorado, but he altered that stance on Friday by telling reporters that his final decision would be made following the morning skate.
1. Toronto's eighth-ranked power play has failed to convert on its last 10 opportunities.
2. Boston D Charlie McAvoy is "trending" toward a return to the lineup on Saturday after being sidelined with a foot infection, per coach Bruce Cassidy.
3. The Maple Leafs acquired F Gabriel Gagne from Ottawa in exchange for F Morgan Klimchuk on Friday while the Bruins secured F Paul Carey from the Senators for D Cody Goloubef.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 3