Two of the three hottest clubs in the Eastern Conference will meet for the first time this season when the Boston Bruins visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.
Under first-year coach Jim Montgomery, the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins have won six straight games and 16 of 18 to begin theseason.
Boston dropped a 7-5 decision at the Ottawa Senators in the fourth game of the season on Oct. 18. Montgomery's group also lost 2-1 at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 5.
In Saturday's 6-1 home rout of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Bruins tied an NHL record with 11 straight home victories to start a season. After games at the Lightning and Florida Panthers (on Wednesday), the team will have a chance to own the high mark on Friday afternoon when the Carolina Hurricanes come to Beantown.
"It's a special team," said Boston captain Patrice Bergeron, who had a goal and an assist on Thursday to increase his point total to 999 in his career.
"We have a lot of depth, and I think it shows. Everyone is contributing, everyone is valued, and I think everyone has confidence, and I think that's the biggest thing, right?"
Defenseman Charlie McAvoy handed out four assists and David Pastrnak scored twice to give him 11 goals on the season. Backup goaltender Jeremy Swayman made 17 saves.
Top goalie Linus Ullmark leads the league in wins (12), goals-against average (1.89) and save percentage (.937).
Tampa Bay erased a one-goal deficit late in the third period before rallying to a 3-2 win in overtime against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Captain Steven Stamkos scored the winning goal in overtime.
Usually lurking around the top of the left circle on the Lightning's man-advantage unit, Stamkos was positioned at the point in a unique scenario. A feed from Nikita Kucherov was all Stamkos needed to finish off the Predators.
Stamkos has three goals and four assists on his four-game point streak.
The sharpshooting Stamkos said the triumph could serve as a pattern for success.
"It was just one of those games when you grind one out," Stamkos said. "It was a solid game. I don't think we gave up much. It's more of a recipe for us to follow to continue to get points."
"It's a 60-minute game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We talked about how we don't have to hurry up and win this game. We'll win it at some point if we just stick with what we're doing and they did. It takes discipline to do that, but they stuck with it."
Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev had an assist to boost his point streak to four games (two goals, six assists).
Sidelined after offseason shoulder surgery, defenseman Zach Bogosian logged 15:58 of ice time with seven hits in his season debut.
Following its game against the Bruins, Tampa Bay will host the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
--Field Level Media