The Boston Bruins will shoot for a franchise-record 58th win of the season when they welcome the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night for their final home game against a Western Conference foe.
Achieving that feat would also give Boston (57-11-5, 119 points) an eighth consecutive win, as it picked up a crucial 4-3 shootout victory over Carolina in Sunday's matchup of the top two teams in the overall NHL standings.
After seeing a 3-1 lead erased in the third period, the Bruins still held on and kept their streak alive, having gone without a loss since March 14 in Chicago.
"We've had a lot of character wins in a lot of different fashions," coach Jim Montgomery said. "I just liked the way we kept playing."
With the Atlantic Division title already wrapped up, forwards Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and defenseman Hampus Lindholm were all left at home to rest due to illness or nagging injuries.
"(Sunday) was an opportunity for other guys to step up and get more ice time," forward David Pastrnak said. "I think we've done a really good job. Our defensemen were moving the puck. I thought overall we played really quick."
Other regulars filled the void, with Pastrnak scoring the 50th and 51st goals of his career-best season. The Bruins' last 50-goal scorer was current team president Cam Neely in 1993-94.
Montgomery has made it clear that more opportunities for rest will be upcoming, especially since the Bruins face back-to-backs with travel during the final two regular-season weekends.
"We don't want to get to the point where (Bergeron, Marchand and Lindholm) couldn't play, and ... they're playing through some pain right now," the coach said. "... I'm looking forward to our players relishing the opportunity to show off our depth."
On Sunday, forward A.J. Greer returned from his one-game suspension, Oskar Steen was recalled from AHL affiliate Providence and Jakub Zboril slotted in on defense.
The Bruins did not practice Monday immediately following the home-road back-to-back, leaving the full composition of Tuesday's lineup to be determined.
However, all indications point to Linus Ullmark starting in goal after Jeremy Swayman made 34 saves and two more in the shootout on Sunday. The team has utilized a strict rotation for more than a month.
The Predators (36-28-8, 80 points) have won just twice in their last seven games (2-4-1), with back-to-back home losses to Seattle and Toronto coming this past weekend.
In Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs, leading scorer Matt Duchene (22 goals) was hit in the hand by teammate Dante Fabbro's shot. He is considered week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
"It was a good effort," forward Cody Glass said. "Obviously, we lose (Duchene) in the second period, so that hurts a lot. We have a young group, and it was kind of one of those adversity things where guys have to step up. That's kind of what this whole thing has been about."
Tyson Barrie had a goal and an assist. He has now logged nine points in 14 games since being acquired in a Feb. 28 trade from Edmonton.
"I give him a lot of credit. He's playing more minutes and more different situations than he did when he was in Edmonton," Nashville coach John Hynes said. "He's stepped right in. He's battling every night. He's got a great energy about him just in and around the room."
Barrie's energy has been crucial with Nashville in a playoff race, sitting five points behind Winnipeg for the Western Conference's second wild-card playoff spot. The Predators do have two games in hand.
--Field Level Media