The Boston Bruins look to get back on track when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third contest of a five-game homestand on Saturday afternoon.
Boston is 15-0-2 at home this season, but it had been literally unbeatable before a current run of three straight games decided by shootouts.
The Los Angeles Kings stole two points in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win, scoring a pair of third-period goals to erase a lead that Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand gave the Bruins through 40 minutes.
To some extent, the Bruins still looked to be recovering from a long trip to the West Coast last week.
Boston’s optional Friday morning practice was its first since last Saturday.
“I think we’re recovering a bit from that, it’s a tough trip to come back from,” Marchand said. “It’s one of those ones we’re going to have to improve upon and get ready for the next one.”
Marchand broke a four-game scoring drought with his goal, but the Bruins wound up taking their first loss when leading after two periods (15-0-1).
The chances were there against another strong offensive team in the Kings, but they didn’t fall. First-year coach Jim Montgomery saw some frustration inch into his team’s game.
“I don’t think complacency is the right word,” Montgomery said. “I saw players not executing to their ability (on Thursday). Our play was sloppy, our passing was sloppy. On the 4-on-3, we should gain the blue line pretty easily. And we weren’t.”
The Bruins will look to get back to their dominant game against a Columbus team that is just 2-5-0 in its last seven games.
“Not playing at the pace we want to play at is what I believe is the root of us not playing to my expectations,” Montgomery added.
Linus Ullmark pitched a 30-save shutout and David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist as the Bruins won 4-0 at Columbus on Oct. 28.
Ullmark is 17-1-1 this season and has started Boston’s last three games. Thursday marked his first loss since Nov. 5 in Toronto.
The Blue Jackets dropped games at Florida and Tampa Bay this week and will also play three of their next four away from home.
Kirill Marchenko scored the lone Columbus goal in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Lightning. Two nights earlier, the Jackets were shut out 4-0 by the Panthers.
“I thought we played a pretty hard game,” forward Cole Sillinger said. “Against that team, we are going to have to generate a couple more goals.”
The line of Marchenko, Sillinger and Kent Johnson earned praise from coach Brad Larsen.
“They earned (their ice time),” Larsen said. “I didn’t get them out there early, it was a matchup issue early, but they started to play and play well. It was easy to keep putting them out there. … I thought they were outstanding.”
Marchenko is the 19th Columbus player with multiple goals this season.
Danill Tarasov’s 25-save effort included a SportsCenter-worthy diving glove stop on Tampa Bay star Nikita Kucherov, but two mistakes led to a three-goal final period starting with Brayden Point’s game-winner.
“I think there’s one, maybe two of those he’d want back to be honest with you because he’s that good a goalie,” Larsen said.
The Blue Jackets played Thursday without forward Eric Robinson (illness).
Before Saturday’s game, the Bruins will honor captain Patrice Bergeron for reaching the 1,000 career points milestone last month. Bergeron is the fourth player in Bruins history to reach that mark.
–Field Level Media