OTTAWA --The Ottawa Senators will put a three-game winning streak on the table when they host the Boston Bruins at Canadian Tire Centre on Tuesday night.
The Bruins are currently going the other way.
After an embarrassing, 7-0 season opening loss to the Washington Capitals, the Bruins (4-2-2) rebounded by winning four in a row, a stretch in which they outscored opponents 22-6.
From there, they hit the road. And the bumps.
First they were swept in Alberta, with 5-2 and 3-2 (overtime) losses to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, respectively. Then came a 2-1 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, a game in which the Bruins held a 31-22 shots advantage but had difficulty solving Jacob Markstrom.
"When you are in overtime and your goalie doesn't stand on his head to get you there, then usually you have played well enough," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game, per NHL.com. "I thought their goalie was really good, made some big saves for them. Our power play finally generated some stuff that we couldn't get behind him, so I give him a lot of credit. It easily could have gone our way."
Injuries have hit the Bruins hard during their tour of Canada. Already without defenseman Torey Krug (ankle) since training camp, they have lost defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Kevan Miller, plus winger David Backes during the road trip.
Yet the players, like their coach, feel the results could have been different.
"It's just frustrating," winger David Pastrnak said, per NHL.com. "Definitely, it doesn't go the way we wanted on this trip, but we lost back-to-back in overtime, and that can go either way."
Senators goalie Craig Anderson will aim for his fourth consecutive victory on Tuesday. Coming off a 4-3 overtime win over Montreal in which they kept the opponents under 30 shots for the first time this season, the Senators (4-2-1) know they are facing a very dangerous team, led by the line of Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
That Boston trio combined for 11 points when the Bruins beat the Senators 6-3 in Boston on Oct. 8.
"We have to prepare something against the Bergeron line," Senators coach Guy Boucher told reporters after Monday's practice. "They are outstanding, plain and simple. As dominant a line as you can get in hockey."
While the Bruins injury list is growing, the Senators are getting players back from their infirmary. Rookie winger Alex Formenton is expected to be in the lineup after missing three games with a concussion. The Senators could also be welcoming back defenseman Cody Ceci, who has missed the last three games with an upper body injury.
In either case, Boucher is leaning towards going with the 11-forward, seven defensemen alignment he has favored since the winning streak began.
"They've been playing great ... makes it that much easier," Ceci said about his teammates. "It's painful when you're out of the lineup and you wish you could help. But they've been doing a great job without me."
Winger Mark Stone feels the Senators just have to keep doing what they've been doing while losing only once in a five-game homestand that concludes against the Bruins.
"Play simple, play fast and execute plays when they're there," said Stone, who had two goals, including the OT winner, against Montreal. "We've got to find a way to limit their best players. I think that line really beat us that (Oct. 8) night. We've got to limit their time and space a little bit better than we had done, not just that game, but every game we've played against them. I know we're not the only team that's had that issue, but if you're going to beat the Boston Bruins you've got to shut down their top guys."
A difficult chore, to be sure.
"I think the way Bergeron plays the game, helps those star players play," said Stone. "He's kind of their safety valve. Marchand and Pastrnak both skate so well, they both have such tremendous skill sets, that it allows them to freelance a little bit. That line, they kind of have a little bit of everything, for sure."