The Boston Bruins were eliminated from playoff contention in their last matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This time, a failure to improve defensively could lead to their first 0-3 start in 16 years.
With Brad Marchand out, the Bruins may get a lift from the possible return of captain Zdeno Chara as they host the Lightning on Monday night.
Boston’s stretch of seven straight playoff appearances ended last season, when they finished two points behind Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins’ fate was sealed with a three-game season-ending slide that included a 3-2 shootout defeat at Tampa Bay on the final day of the season.
Those struggles have carried into 2015-16, falling 6-2 to Winnipeg on Thursday and giving up the first three goals in a 4-2 loss to Montreal two days later. Boston was outshot 38-21 by the Canadiens, who needed just two attempts and 85 seconds to find the net.
"For so long, defense has been our foundation, and we still look for that to be our foundation," defenseman Torey Krug told the team’s official website. "So we’ve got to tighten up, for sure, whether it’s turnovers, (or) we’re not looking good on the backcheck, making sure we’re looking over our shoulders and finding that extra guy.
"It’s definitely not like us, but we’re going to work through that."
If not, the Bruins could lose their first three games of a season for the first time since 1999-2000.
In order to avoid matching that dubious stretch, the Bruins will have to overcome Marchand’s absence after he suffered a concussion Saturday when he was hit by Dale Weise in the third period.
Brett Connolly is expected to replace Marchand on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson. Connolly, acquired from Tampa Bay for two draft picks in March, has yet to record a point and is minus-4 through two games.
Chara might be back from an upper-body injury suffered during preseason. The 38-year-old defenseman was considered "questionable" by coach Claude Julien.
Boston has won 10 straight home regular-season meetings with the Lightning as part of a 14-3-1 stretch. However, the Bruins have lost the last two in Tampa Bay.
The Lightning, though, are aiming for their first 3-0 start since 2010-11 after winning 4-1 at Buffalo on Saturday, getting a goal from each line.
Steven Stamkos is gaining confidence after scoring his first goal of the season against the Sabres.
"You know it’s going to come, but you go through some droughts," Stamkos said. "There’s some doubts that creep into your head, but I handle it a lot better than I did earlier in my career. Confidence is big in all aspects of life."
He should have plenty Monday since he’s scored nine goals in his last 13 visits to TD Garden, including three in the last two.
Ryan Callahan, who assisted on Stamkos’ tally Saturday, has three points through two games and five in his last seven against the Bruins.
Nikita Kucherov had one goal and two assists in four matchups last season. Like Stamkos, the right wing netted his first goal this season at Buffalo.