Ducks will try to build on seven-game win streak vs. Bruins
BOSTON — There is a chance at least one streak will end when the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins resume their NHL seasons at TD Garden on Tuesday night.
The home team has gone 18 games without a regulation loss — last losing in 60 minutes way back on Dec. 14. The 14-0-4 is the franchise’s longest since 1968-69 and tied for the second-longest in club history.
The Bruins went 13-0-5 (that’s five ties if you’re too young to remember ties) in 68-69 and the club record is 23 games — 15-0-8 (ties) in 1940-41.
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Enter the Ducks, who just went 4-1 on a homestand and have survived a string of injuries to go 24-17-9 through 50 games.
They also have a streak entering this one — the opener of a five-game road trip: the Ducks have won seven straight against the Bruins, winning each of the last three seasons at TD Garden. They could keep that streak going and could also continue Boston’s run if the game went into overtime.
The Bruins resume play — without the suspended Brad Marchand, rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy (heart procedure) and Noel Acciari (lower body) — five points behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lighting in the Atlantic Division but two games in hand.
Bruce Cassidy, in his first full season as the Bruins coach, navigated his team through a tough and injury filled start — and into a position where some are thinking long playoff run.
“You’re always getting judged, but not as harshly when you’ve had a streak like this. You can tinker with some things,” Cassidy said the B’s ended their pre All-Star schedule with a win at Ottawa. “We want to grow our team. We’ve got a young group. It’s not a developmental league per se, but there is a lot of development going on. It’s trending that way and we want to make sure our guys are prepared for those situations.”
The Ducks, meanwhile, are in a dogfight for a wild card spot in the West. They’re 8-3-1 in their last 12, 10-4-1 in their last 15.
In their final game before the break, the Ducks saw goaltender John Gibson go down with a lower body injury late. Ryan Miller entered, didn’t face a shot through overtime but then turned aside all five shootout attempts for the win over the Winnipeg Jets.
That moved Miller past Henrik Lundqvist for the all-time NHL lead in shootout wins, with 59.
“Obviously, it’s a tough situation for the goalie,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “He goes in cold and then doesn’t see a shot until the shootout. But he’s a veteran guy and I don’t think too much fazes him. He just goes in and goes about his business.”
While Gibson’s injury looked like it might be serious but he was on the ice for practice at TD Garden Monday. He is just 1-0 lifetime against the Bruins, while Miller, an old divisional foe, is 27-11-7 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage against Boston.
One streak that likely won’t be affected Tuesday is Tuukka Rask’s 16-0-2 run in the Boston goal. Rask, just 1-6-1 with a 3.62 GAA and .865 save percentage lifetime against Anaheim, will sit in favor of backup — and former Duck — Anton Khudobin (0-1-1 against Anaheim). Rask is set to play in home games Thursday (St. Louis) and Saturday (Toronto).
McAvoy, a Calder Trophy candidate as the league’s top rookie, was back on the ice a week after his heart ablation procedure and shouldn’t be out much longer.
Asked Monday how he felt when he got his diagnosis on an irregular heartbeat, McAvoy said, “I think it was a relief, first off, to find out that it was not life threatening and not dangerous to my overall health. That was my best takeaway from that to realize that obviously, because I’m in there, I’m kind of nervous, that this is going to be something that is really bad, that I might not be able to play again or anything like that.
“To find out that it was something that was not dangerous, not life threatening, something that I could still continue to play with, that was a good takeaway right away from the overall situation.”