BOSTON — It will be a clash of two hot teams at the TD Garden on Thursday night, but at least one red-hot goaltender will be sitting it out.
The Bruins, fresh off three straight wins by a combined goal count of 18-5, will host Edmonton, which comes in having won seven of its last eight games.
Veteran goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has been a huge part of that success, starting the season with a 7-0-2 record, 0.98 goals-against average and .964 save percentage. But Khabibulin will get the night off, with the Oilers starting backup Devan Dubnyk instead.
Dubnyk is no slouch himself, posting a 2.19 GAA and a .930 save percentage so far this season. He has just a 2-3-0 record to show for it, but Edmonton coach Tom Renney likes how the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Dubnyk matches up with the physical Bruins, who thrive on crashing the crease and creating havoc in front of the net.
"We play back to back here and it's one of those situations where Dubnyk has to play too," said Renney, whose club plays at Detroit on Friday. "This is a big, strong team, and I think this is tailor made for Devan quite honestly. To see this team and see their attack, with his size and strength, it sort of lines up well for us."
The Bruins appear that they might be going with their backup as well. Coach Claude Julien didn't confirm his choice in net, but Tuukka Rask was the first off the ice at the morning skate, traditionally the sign of who will start that night. Rask posted his first win of the season in his fourth start on Monday, and has a 2.53 GAA and .910 save percentage this season.
Rich Peverley participated in the morning skate and will be a game-time decision after missing Monday's game with an undisclosed injury. If Peverley can't play, Zach Hamill will make his season debut after being recalled from Providence on Wednesday. Hamill has moved to wing this season and responded with a team-leading 5-5-10 line through 14 games at Providence.
"I've been playing right wing pretty much the whole time and it's been pretty good," Hamill said. "Butch [Providence coach Bruce Cassidy] has really shown confidence in me and I appreciate that. I'm just trying to work hard and show them what I can do."
Hamill will only get into the lineup if Peverley can't go, but his play in Providence has put him on Julien's radar after being sent down early in training camp.
"I went and saw him play maybe two or three weekends ago, and to me he was their best player," Julien said. "I really liked the way he played. He's playing wing this year and he was making good plays. He was technically pretty sound and I thought he was competing well."
Daniel Paille will definitely miss the game after undergoing surgery on his broken nose on Wednesday. Benoit Pouliot will move into Paille's spot on the fourth line alongside Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
"They've been playing great, so it's going to be fun," Pouliot said. "They're big, physical guys. Piesy does the job well and I just have to jump in there and do what he does, use my speed and create plays."
Julien is confident that Pouliot, who scored his first goal of the season on Monday, will mesh well with his new linemates.
"I don't think we question Benoit's work ethic, and that's what that line is all about," Julien said. "They compete hard. They work hard. He'll fit in. He's excited to be with them and they're excited to have him. We're going to miss Dan obviously for [Thursday night's] game, but that's part of the process of a whole season. You have guys you have to plug into different areas and do the job, and we feel pretty confident that Pouliot can do that."
Dan O'Rourke and Justin St. Pierre will be the referees, with Jean Morin and Mark Shewchyk working the lines.
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Jordan Caron-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Daniel Paille (broken nose), Zach Hamill, Steven Kampfer
Projected Oilers lines
Taylor Hall-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth-Shawn Horcoff-Ales Hemsky
Ryan Jones-Eric Belanger-Sam Gagner
Ben Eager-Anton Lander-Lennart Pentrell
Ladislav Smid-Tom Gilbert
Theo Peckham-Corey Potter
Cam Barker-Jeff Petry
Scratches: Magnus Paajarvi, Andy Sutton (suspension), Colten Teubert, Darcy Hordichuk (knee), Ryan Whitney (knee)