If the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens keep up their solid pace, this historic rivalry - despite being pretty one-sided of late - could become even more intense.
Boston will try to win its seventh consecutive game by knocking off visiting Montreal for the sixth straight time Sunday night.
Four of the Eastern Conference's top five teams heading into Sunday's action reside in the Northeast Division. The Bruins (14-2-2), who have played the fewest games in the NHL, lead the way along with the Canadiens (13-4-4).
Boston is off to its best start since 1929-30 and has won six straight after overcoming a two-goal deficit to beat Tampa Bay 3-2 on Saturday. Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand scored as Anton Khudobin made 20 saves in place of Tuukka Rask, who will be in net versus Montreal.
"It's not always going to be your way so you have to find ways to show some character,' said Patrice Bergeron, who assisted on Marchand's goal.
Marchand netted his fourth game-winner with just over two minutes remaining and leads the team with 11 goals. His and Seguin's tallies came on the power play after the Bruins had gone 0 for 26 with the man advantage over their first seven home games.
"We've got a great team. We've got a lot of great players, especially my linemates, (Bergeron) and (Seguin)," Marchand said. "I'm fortunate to be on the team I am."
Seguin scored 14 seconds into the third period and David Krejci added a goal less than two minutes later in Boston's 2-1 victory at Montreal on Feb. 6 as the Bruins won their fifth straight over their Original Six rival.
Each game during that streak has been decided by one goal.
"In this league, goals come and go in bunches, and you could go 20 or 30 games without a goal, and then you could go 20 games with 15, so it's nice when they come," said Marchand, who missed last month's meeting with an upper-body injury.
Goals were frequent for the Canadiens on Saturday, but their defense let them down in a 7-6 overtime loss to Pittsburgh. Montreal overcame a two-goal deficit but also blew three leads in a wild contest as captain Brian Gionta scored twice.
"That kind of game is great for the fans, but it's what gives coaches gray hair,' coach Michel Therrien said. "But we managed to find a way to get a point."
Montreal is 7-0-3 over its last 10, and had outscored opponents 26-12 over its previous nine. Carey Price made 29 saves Saturday but allowed each goal after giving up eight over his previous six starts combined.
"Crazy games like that happen,' said defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who won the 2011 Stanley Cup with Boston. "Too bad we didn't get the two points at the end of the night.
"The previous games, we played good defensively and we have to get back to that.'
Backup Peter Budaj could get the start in the second of a back-to-back. He made 19 saves in a 3-0 win over Carolina in his last start Feb. 18 and is 1-1-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average in three career appearances - two starts - versus the Bruins.
Rask, who is 7-0-1 with a 1.35 GAA over his last eight starts, will face the Canadiens again after making 21 saves in the first meeting. He had lost his previous five starts with a 3.45 GAA in the series.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved