Preview: Hurricanes at Bruins
The Boston Bruins rode a four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes to reach the Stanley Cup Finals last season and they again look like the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. The NHL's only team without a regulation loss at home (11-0-4), Boston puts its seven-game winning streak on the line versus the visiting Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
David Pastrnak scored his league-leading 25th goal as the Bruins extended their overall point streak to 11 games (8-0-3) with a 3-1 victory over Montreal on Sunday night. "He's playing a video game out there," teammate David Backes said of Pastrnak, who joined Phil Esposito (1974) as the first Boston player to be first in the NHL to 25 goals in a season. "I don't know what's wrong with that guy. It's so impressive to see that." Carolina won for the seventh time in 10 games, rebounding from a 3-0 home loss to Nashville on Friday night with a 3-2 victory at Tampa Bay 24 hours later. "We're just working hard as a team," netminder James Reimer said after the latest win. "We've got a team in here that's got a ton of character."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Carolina, NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (16-10-1): Center Sebastian Aho set career highs across the board last season, leading the team with 30 goals and 83 points, but he struggled in October with only three tallies and three assists. The 22-year-old Finn elevated his game in November, however, collecting 10 goals and six assists after scoring and setting up another tally in Saturday's victory. Goaltender Petr Mrazek, who has lost three of his last four, permitted 10 goals in a pair of postseason matchups versus Boston last season.
ABOUT THE BRUINS (19-3-5): After Pastrnak ignited Boston's three-goal third period Sunday, Backes followed by delivering the game-winner in his first game since missing the previous 13 due to a concussion. It was the first goal and second point of the season for Backes, who had been sidelined since getting hurt on Nov. 2. "We didn't know what he'd have, to be honest with you," coach Bruce Cassidy said of Backes. "He hadn't played in a while. I thought he gave us some good energy, had a couple looks, was banging bodies."
1. Pastrnak has 10 goals in his last 10 games overall and has seven tallies and 12 points in a dozen contests versus Carolina.
2. Hurricanes D Dougie Hamilton, who played three seasons in Boston, is second on the team with 28 points.
3. Bruins F Jake DeBrusk has three goals and six points over his last five games.
PREDICTION: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2