The Bruins will try to earn a split of their two-game road trip and a share of the Northeast Division lead as they close out their brief excursion away from the Garden with their first visit to Montreal this season.
Boston comes in weary from a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday, but the Habs won't be any more rested or in any better humor. The Canadiens also played on Wednesday, dropping a 5-3 decision to Philadelphia.
It's hard to believe the Flyers would ever do the Bruins any favors, but Philadelphia's win keeps the Bruins just two points behind Montreal in the battle for the top spot in the division. A victory on Thursday puts the Original Six rivals even at 38 points, and the Bruins still have two games in hand.
The Bruins won't be sharing the Northeast lead unless they put in a much more disciplined and consistent effort than they offered in Buffalo.
Tim Thomas is likely to return between the pipes after Tuukka Rask got the start against the Sabres. That would set up a potential showdown between two of the top netminders in the NHL this season, as Thomas leads in virtually every category with a 1.51 GAA, .954 save percentage and five shutouts, while Montreal's Carey Price had a 1.96 GAA and a .935 save percentage with four shutouts before giving up five goals to the Flyers on Wednesday.
Boston Bruins (16-9-4, 36 points) at Montreal Canadiens (18-11-2, 38 points)
Dec. 16, 7 p.m. (NESN)
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
The Bruins renew acquaintances with their oldest rival, playing in Montreal for the first time after dropping a 3-1 decision to the Habs at the Garden back on Nov. 11. The Bruins will have plenty of motivation as they try to get the bitter taste of Wednesday's disappointing effort in Buffalo out of their mouths and pull into a tie for first place in the Northeast Division. But Montreal will have the same incentives after losing to Philadelphia, so this should be an exciting and entertaining clash as it usually is when these rivals get together.
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