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Bruins brace for stern test from streaking Flyers

Jan 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) celebrates his goal as Toronto Maple Leafs center Calle Jarnkrok (19) looks on during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It has already been a milestone season for the Boston Bruins, but one stands above the rest thus far.

The NHL-leading Bruins enter Monday’s home matinee against the streaking Philadelphia Flyers not having lost back-to-back games all season.

Two nights after Seattle became the first team to win in regulation at TD Garden this season, the Bruins — who are now 20-1-3 at home — bounced back for a 4-3 win against Atlantic Division rival Toronto.

“I think the game meant more to us than I imagined before the game. I’m glad it did,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “We’re proud of not having lost two in a row. There was a purpose to what we were doing.”

Philadelphia, meanwhile, is in the midst of its best run this season with three straight wins and a 7-1-0 mark in its last eight games.

The Flyers’ lone loss during that extended streak was Jan. 8 against the Maple Leafs.

Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk scored Saturday’s winner with 1:16 left in the third period as the Bruins extended their lead in the division standings to 11 points over Toronto.

“Those are the type of games we’re going to see down the road, and probably in the playoffs,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said.

It may only be mid-January, but the win also felt different within the Boston dressing room.

It was a statement that the Bruins will look to build upon in their final game before a midweek back-to-back against the Islanders and Rangers in New York.

“I think it was the first time in a while that we felt that good about our game and, obviously, we know the rivalry and how good of a team they are, so it was kind of a statement game for us we felt like,” Grzelcyk said.

Both Grzelcyk and A.J. Greer each scored their first goals since October. Reigning NHL First Star of the Week David Pastrnak netted his eighth goal in a five-game span, and Bergeron also scored for Boston.

Philadelphia will visit Boston in the midst of a five-game road win streak.

The Flyers scored twice in a 49-second span in the second period en route to recording a 3-1 win over Washington on Saturday.

“Timely goals,” Philadelphia coach John Tortorella said. “Some grinding with (Wade Allison’s) goal. That’s a big goal. I thought we were protecting the puck well. No one particular thing (tonight). I just thought we played well as a team.”

Carter Hart stopped 39 of the 40 shots on Saturday, including 19 in the third period.

Nine of Hart’s 13 wins this season have come when he faces at least 30 shots.

“When Hartsy plays the way he does like that, that makes it a little easier on everyone else, too,” forward James van Riemsdyk said. “So, he was outstanding.”

Prior to Saturday, Travis Konecny had the NHL’s longest active point streak at 10 consecutive games.

Multiple other Flyers are in the midst of strong runs. Scott Laughton is a point-per-game player with eight goals over his last 18 games, and defenseman Tony DeAngelo has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his last 10 outings.

Boston has a three-game head-to-head win streak after a 4-1 triumph in the Nov. 17 meeting this season. David Krejci, who scored twice for the Bruins in that contest, is slated to play in his 1,000th NHL game on Monday.

–Field Level Media