When they returned from one of their longest trips of the season, the Boston Bruins turned their focus toward finishing with a winning record in their final four games before the Christmas break.
A spate of injuries hasn't made it easy but the Bruins can accomplish that goal by beating the slumping Nashville Predators on Monday night and avoiding a third consecutive road defeat.
Boston's impressive play at home has helped it keep winning despite a bevy of injuries and Shawn Thornton's 15-game suspension. There's a chance Adam McQuaid could come back from a lower-body injury in Nashville but Loui Eriksson (concussion), Daniel Paille (concussion), Dougie Hamilton (lower body) and Chris Kelly (leg) are all expected to remain out of the lineup.
The Bruins overcame those absences Saturday to earn their seventh consecutive home win, 4-1 over Buffalo, avenging a 4-2 loss at the Sabres on Thursday. Reilly Smith scored a pair of goals and David Krejci had the tiebreaking tally in the second period.
Krejci also provided an assist for his fifth multipoint performance in the last 10 games.
"(What) we talk about in the room is not losing two games in a row. That's something that we really focus on," defenseman Torey Krug told the team's website. "You go from game to game and you're not always going to get the outcome that you want."
"We played a pretty good game in Buffalo and didn't get the right outcome and then we came back and we just wanted to keep doing similar things because we knew it would produce goals for us, and play good defense. So it's nice to have that mentality."
The Bruins (24-10-2) will try to head into the Christmas break with a third win in four games by sending a streaky Nashville team to a fourth consecutive defeat.
"When we got back from our swing in western Canada, we talked about how we had four games and we wanted to go out with a bang. We're 2-1 now and 3-1 will look a lot better than 2-2," Krug said.
The Predators (16-16-4) rallied from an early three-goal deficit Saturday against Montreal but fell 4-3 in overtime.
''It was a tough start for us, and we've talked about having good starts in this building," captain Shea Weber said. "But we showed a lot of character tonight and did a lot of good things. That's going to build some confidence."
Rookie defenseman Seth Jones was forced to leave that game after being hit by a puck in the face, but there's a chance he'll play Monday.
"It was a scary injury, but I'm all good and back on the ice now," Jones tweeted Sunday.
Boston is 3-0-2 in its last five against the Predators and earned a 4-3 shootout win in its most recent matchup Feb. 11, 2012. The Bruins have also dropped their last three games in Nashville, where they haven't played since March 17, 2011.
Patrice Bergeron has scored a goal in each of his last three contests against the Predators.