It’s one step forward and two steps back on the injury front for the Boston Bruins as they hit the road to face the rival Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
Boosted by the returns of top-line center Patrice Bergeron and defenseman Torey Krug in winning three straight and four of their last five (4-0-1), the Bruins will now be without Bergeron for an indefinite period of time after he aggravated the lower-body injury that caused him to miss two games.
“No timeline on it,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who confirmed Bergeron will miss the games at Montreal and at Ottawa on Wednesday.
“Just want to make sure that when he’s in the lineup he’s not gonna put himself at further risk. Medical staff will keep on top of it and go from there.”
Bergeron had four assists and Krug scored the game-winning goal to go with two helpers in an overtime comeback win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Just when it looked like first-place Boston was primed for a run to gain separation in the Atlantic Division, Bergeron’s setback looms large.
“It’s a player that’s very hard to replace,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “He’s been such a valued player for a long time in this organization. Hopefully he’s not out too long and we can do well without him. … It’s challenging, but we have players that step up and do well and fill the spot.”
David Krejci scored twice in the final 1:55 of regulation to force overtime against the Wild and has three goals and 12 points in 11 games this month. He will move up to the top line between David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.
Boston also recalled centers Brendan Gaunce and Jack Studnicka from American Hockey League affiliate Providence.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, have lost four straight (0-2-2), including their last three at home. Montreal had been on a 7-1-1 stretch before the current slump.
Last time out against the New York Rangers on Saturday, Montreal squandered a 4-0 lead in giving up three goals in the second period and three in the third in a 6-5 defeat. While the Canadiens pounded 43 shots on the New York net, Carey Price faced 34 on his end, letting six in.
“We have to tighten up defensively,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said. “We’re not tough enough, we’re not tracking pucks. Our back-check was not good at all tonight. We played against a hungry team.
“That’s another reason why this is unacceptable. We should have been starving, too.”
Price, who led the team at practice Monday, has started three straight games and nine of the team’s last 10. He is 4-3-2 with a 3.22 goals against average this month.
Against the Canadiens, Bruins backup Jaroslav Halak (4-1-3, 2.56 GAA) will get the nod in net after missing his originally scheduled start Saturday with an illness.
The contest marks the second of four meetings between Boston and Montreal this season. The Canadiens ended a 10-game Bruins points streak when they beat them 5-4 at home Nov. 5.
-Field Level Media