Blues-Bruins Preview

BY foxsports • December 22, 2015

The Boston Bruins are knocking at the door.

Riding their hottest stretch of the season and looking to take advantage of another team's slump, the Bruins can take over first place in the Atlantic Division on Tuesday night when they host the St. Louis Blues.

A month ago that might have seemed impossible. Boston (19-9-4) opened the season 8-8-1 and fell far behind the hot Montreal Canadiens. Since, the Bruins are 11-1-3 and have taken advantage of a prolonged Montreal slump.

Boston clawed within one point of the division lead with Sunday's 2-1 shootout win over New Jersey, and the Bruins can leapfrog Montreal with a fourth straight victory Tuesday.

Loui Eriksson scored for the second straight game against the Devils and Ryan Spooner's shootout goal clinched Boston's fifth win in six games.

"You know, it's easy to be feeling comfortable," Zdeno Chara told the team's official website. "It's easy to be feeling complacent at this point, but that would be the biggest mistake we can make. We've just got to look at it as one game at a time, no matter what's happening. We're getting results, that's nice to see, but it's our job to be winning and doing the job."

Positive results have been tough to come by for the Bruins in this series, however. One glance at St. Louis' record against Boston over the last 15 years reveals the Blues' dominance.

How they achieved it is a different story.

The Blues are 12-4-0 against the Bruins since 2001, but nine of those games went into overtime - all St. Louis wins. Of the nine overtime victories since Feb. 24, 2001, five were decided in the extra period while the other four came via shootout.

Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask has rebounded from a troubling start and is 8-0-2 with a 1.42 goals-against average since Nov. 21. He has three shutouts and a .953 save percentage in that span.

Rask's turnaround comes after posting a 3.18 GAA and .890 save percentage in his opening 13 starts, five of which he surrendered five or more goals. He is 2-0-3 with a 1.76 GAA lifetime against St. Louis.

St. Louis (20-11-4) had its three-game winning streak snapped with Monday's disheartening 4-3 loss at Philadelphia. The Blues were up 3-0 midway through the second period but wilted down the stretch.

''There were a lot of poor puck decisions in the second period," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They dialed it up in the second period and we started turning it over. We didn't manage it very well at all."

However, the Blues did continue their hot stretch on the power play, converting one of two opportunities. St. Louis has scored on seven of 13 power plays in the last seven games to follow an 0-for-10 drought in the previous four.

Brian Elliott will start in net for the Blues, hoping to build on his first win in over a month on Saturday. The 3-2 victory over Calgary was his first in nine appearances after opening the season 4-0. He is 3-6-3 with a 2.90 GAA and .897 save percentage in 12 career starts against Boston.

The Bruins will be without Max Talbot after the NHL gave the forward a two-game suspension Monday for interference against New Jersey's Jiri Tlusty on Sunday, saying Talbot "delivered a late, violent hit."

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