After clashing in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs were expected to compete with Tampa Bay for supremacy in the Atlantic Division. However, both teams are mired in losing streaks as they prepare to collide for the third time this season when the Bruins visit the Maple Leafs on Friday night.
Boston's losing streak reached four games (0-2-2) with a stunning 5-4 home defeat to Florida on Tuesday, giving up four unanswered goals in the third period before falling in a shootout. "It's the strength of our team to close out games," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I think we had a perfect record when we had a lead going into the third period. It's a trademark of this team. So, yeah, it is a concern." Toronto suffered a pair of 5-4 losses on its two-game road trip to extend its slide to three and will play the next six away from home following Friday's matchup. "When you evaluate what we have done in 20 games, we don't like it as a group," coach Mike Babcock said after Wednesday's loss to the New York Islanders. "We got ourselves in the spot we are in, we got to grind our way out of it."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), TVAS, TSN4 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (11-3-4): Already missing four forwards from the lineup, Boston lost another when it learned that rookie Zach Senyshyn will be sidelined for at least four weeks due to a lower-body injury sustained in Tuesday's setback. That prompted the Bruins to recall another former first-round pick in Trent Frederic, who skated on the third line with Par Lindholm and Danton Heinen while Anders Bjork was paired with David Krejci and Charlie Coyle on the second unit. "The hand we've been dealt right now is we have a lot of right wingers out," Cassidy said.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (9-7-4): Defenseman Morgan Rielly said Toronto needs to get its "swagger" back and one area to start would be to rectify a struggling power play that has converted on only 5-for-43 chances over the past 13 games. "We need to be game breakers when you're on the power play and we haven't been and you take that personally," said Rielly, who collected his 14th assist Wednesday and scored twice in a 4-3 victory over the Bruins on Oct. 19. Captain John Tavares has scored one goal and set up another in three of the past four games.
1. Bruins F David Pastrnak, who scored his 16th goal Tuesday, has two tallies and two assists in two meetings with Toronto this season.
2. Maple Leafs F Auston Matthews has 10 points during a five-game streak and nine in nine matchups versus Boston.
3. Bruins G Tuukka Rask has allowed 12 goals during his three-start losing streak.
Mikheyev is on injured reserve after having surgery to repair an artery and tendons in his right wrist. He is likely to be activated against the Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference qualifying round.