BOSTON — The Bruins will look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they host old friend Joe Thornton and the Sharks Saturday night at the Garden.
Thornton is coming off a one-goal, one-assist night in New Jersey on Friday, helping San Jose snap a three-game losing streak while playing his 1,000th career game. No. 1,001 should be special as well as he returns to face his original club for just the sixth time, and just the fourth time in Boston since being dealt to the Sharks nearly six years ago.
Like the Bruins, the Sharks have struggled in the early going this season but will be looking to build off Friday's win over the Devils.
"I saw a lot of similarities in their team and then ours where you can see the better side of them and there's times where you can see that they're a little frustrated at times," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And so they're also a team that's trying to find their rhythm and I thought [Friday] night they played well, for the most part they played well. They're heavy around the net area. They're strong on the puck. They've got great size so they're a heavy team in close there, and I think our guys are going to have to be strong and be ready to battle there."
After playing Friday night, the Sharks held just an optional morning skate on Saturday. The Bruins have been off since beating Toronto 6-2 on Thursday, but their skate was optional as well. Tim Thomas did not participate, but is expected to get the start in goal again.
Despite playing the full 65 minutes plus a shootout in New Jersey on Friday, Antti Niemi is expected to get the start again in net for San Jose.
The Sharks will be without forward Torrey Mitchell, who suffered an upper-body injury when hit into the boards by New Jersey's Nick Palmieri early in the first period on Friday.
San Jose has recalled defenseman Justin Braun from their AHL affiliate in nearby Worcester, while sending forward Tommy Wingels down to Worcester. Braun is expected to be in the lineup on the blue line, with Jason Demers the likely scratch. The Sharks could also insert rugged Jim Vandermeer into the lineup on defense in place of Colin White. Andrew Desjardins will likely take Mitchell's spot up front after being scratched for the first time this season on Friday.
Adam McQuaid participated in the Bruins' morning skate as he continues to work his way back from a neck injury. He is still considered day to day and is doubtful for Saturday's game.
"I'm just waiting for more information before I can even make any decisions on him," Julien said after the skate. "He skated again [Saturday] morning so he's really coming around."
Bruins forward Milan Lucic also skated Saturday morning after missing practice Friday with what was termed a "maintenance day."
Kelly Sutherland and Frederick L'Ecuyer will be the referees, with Michel Cormier and Derek Nansen working the lines.
Projected Bruins lines:
Milan Lucic-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Steven Kampfer
Scratches: Jordan Caron, Adam McQuaid (neck)
Projected Sharks lines:
Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe-Logan Couture-Martin Havlat
Benn Ferriero-Michal Handzus-Andrew Desjardins
Brad Winchester-Andrew Murray-Jamie McGinn
Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Brent Burns
Colin White-Justin Braun
Scratches: Torrey Mitchell (upper body), Jim Vandermeer, Jason Demers