The NHL-leading Boston Bruins return to work following the Thanksgiving holiday when they host a matinee Friday against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Bruins (14-1-3, 31 points) blew multiple leads in Monday’s 5-4 overtime loss at Tampa Bay before finishing their two-game trip with a 3-1 victory Wednesday win against the Florida Panthers.
Boston passed Vegas for the top spot in the overall NHL standings with the victory, becoming the fourth team in 30 years to lead the NHL in points at the time of U.S. Thanksgiving in two or more consecutive years.
“You want to be in a winning culture, you want to create a winning culture,” Boston goaltender Linus Ullmark said. “You want to carry on a winning culture. Boston has been so good throughout many years of doing that. Now we’ve got to pick up the torch and keep the flame burning as bright as it has been.”
Charlie Coyle, John Beecher and Jake DeBrusk scored Boston’s goals against the Panthers, while Ullmark — who coach Jim Montgomery tabbed as “the star of the game” — made 27 saves.
Beecher, a rookie, and Coyle scored goals in back-to-back games.
“I don’t know what’s going on out there. It is kind of uncharted territory,” Beecher said of his recent scoring. “It’s exciting. I am trying to help the team win as much as I can and if that means ending up on the score sheet, so be it.”
Coyle has a team-leading six goals in November and trails only David Pastrnak with 10 points across the past nine games.
Jeremy Swayman was the first Bruins goalie to draw consecutive starts this season, taking the net again while Ullmark required “maintenance” Monday, according to Montgomery.
Ullmark stopped all 15 shots in Wednesday’s first period.
“The start of the game, obviously, was (all) Ullmark,” said Montgomery, who was also pleased with his team’s layered defense.
Detroit put together a strong first game following last week’s 2023 NHL Global Series Sweden, as Alex Lyon pitched a 16-save shutout in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over New Jersey.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled with the way we played defensively, and Alex was great when we needed him,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “We had great energy coming home from a long road trip.”
Robby Fabbri had a goal and an assist, and Daniel Sprong had two assists to pace Detroit, which lost one-goal games to Ottawa (in overtime) and Toronto while playing in Sweden.
Detroit supported Lyon well in only his second start this season, rattling off three goals in a span of 1 minute, 12 seconds late in the first period.
Lucas Raymond opened the scoring with his fourth goal in as many games, becoming the fourth different Red Wings player in the past 40 years to record a goal streak of that length at age 21 or younger.
New Jersey managed only a pair of third-period shots.
“We’ve been emphasizing our starts. We need to get some early goals and then close out the games,” Fabbri said. “Today we did that and played a full 60 minutes.”
The strong pre-Thanksgiving performance has given Detroit renewed confidence entering a tilt against the best team in the league.
“It’s a tall task as it is,” Lalonde said. “How many times have we played them? Of course, it’s the one team with one loss all year. I just think those are really hard challenges. To be at this point in the season and they have one regulation loss — it’s amazing.
“I will say, as tough as some of these games have been for us, I think it hardens us.”