NHL Hockey

Red-hot Bruins look to topple Penguins

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Going into their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday at TD Garden, the Boston Bruins have won five games in a row and have used a nine-game point streak (7-0-2) to soar to the top of the Atlantic Division.

"We are playing well as a team and that always helps, and that's a huge pickup," Boston right wing David Pastrnak said. "We're all doing well and playing with a lot of confidence, so obviously that helps. But yeah, we're winning, and that's the major thing."

Pastrnak has an 11-game point streak (13 goals, 27 points), second on the team to linemate Brad Marchand's 12-game point streak (eight goals, 23 points). All of Pastrnak's points have come during his streak, and he leads the NHL in points and is tied for the lead in goals.

Pastrnak had a goal and two assists, and Marchand a goal and an assist Saturday when Boston's strong third period turned a 2-2 tie after two periods into a 5-2 win over Ottawa.

"He is on another level right now," Marchand said of Pastrnak. "His ability to make plays. ... He's just seeing things that other guys just could never see."

Bruins forward David Backes left Saturday's game because of an upper-body injury after a nasty collision that sent Ottawa's Scott Sabourin off the ice on a stretcher and to the hospital. The Boston Herald reported that Backes is doubtful to play on Monday.

Boston has a plus-19 goal differential, tied for best in the NHL, something that is traced not only to production from Pastrnak, Marchand and others, but also the goaltending of Tuukka Rask, who is 7-0-1 and leads the league with a 1.49 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

The Penguins, meanwhile, are 2-0-1 in their past three games, and have a new injury after finally playing one game with a full roster. They had missed at least one player -- and at times several, mostly forwards -- because of injury before center Evgeni Malkin's return Saturday in a 2-1 overtime loss to Edmonton, but now winger Patric Hornqvist is out because of a lower-body injury.

Malkin, who had missed 11 games, led his team with six shots, but Oilers goaltender Mike Smith was stifling, making 51 saves.

"He played well," Pittsburgh defenseman Justin Schultz said of Malkin. "You can obviously see the impact that he has on our team when he's in our lineup. We're certainly a much more difficult team to play against. We're harder from a matchup standpoint. For his first game back, after missing a fair amount of time, he had a pretty good game."

The Penguins enter the game at Boston without a power-play goal in eight straight games, an 0-for-19 drought, but they aren't panicking. Not only do they have Malkin back, but they also like the way they are moving the puck and getting scoring chances.

"The only thing that's missing right now is finish," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "If we weren't generating scoring chances or we didn't have (offensive) zone time or we didn't have a high success rate on the zone entries or we were losing faceoffs or things of that sort, then we could look at the structure and the process and the execution.

"As I've said to our players, we have to stay with it. We've got to hang in there. We can't get discouraged. We've just got to get more determined."

--Field Level Media

Updated November 4, 2019

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