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After a rare home loss, Bruins look to get back on track vs. Maple Leafs

Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said of Thursday's loss to the Kraken (the Bruins' first in regulation at home): "It stings a little."John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The morning after had the Bruins back in their Brighton practice facility Friday, working to move beyond their 3-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Kraken.

The loss, their first in regulation at home this season (19-1-3), provided the Black and Gold something of a gut check.

“I was talking to Brad Marchand about it,” noted coach Jim Montgomery. “We were having breakfast together … and we were talking about how, you know, there’s an empty feeling in your stomach today, and we haven’t had that. It stings a little.”

The loss could serve as extra motivation when they face the Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Garden. After a sluggish start, including a 4-4-2 October, the Leafs have shimmied back among the league powerhouses, and as of Friday were ranked T2 behind the Bruins in the overall standings.


“You want to get that feeling back,” said Montgomery, his 32–5-4 squad yet to lose consecutive games this season. “Not only internally, but you could tell the whole city was rallying behind what we were doing. We want to get that back.”

The Leafs, 4-1 losers Thursday night in Detroit, nicked the Bruins, 2-1, in Toronto Nov. 5. They arrive in town to face a Boston squad that has gone 8-0-0 following defeats thus far.

In the post-World War 2 NHL, only the Canadiens have gone an entire season without posting back-to-back losses. The Habs did it three times, most recently in 1976-77 when they went 7-0-1 following their eight losses over the course of an 80-game season.

“Our leadership, and the pride in the locker room,” said Montgomery, noting the factors that have allowed his club to shake off defeats. “When we lose a game, to get back on track is really important to our group, and I think that shows in how we play that next game.”


Joona Koppanen made his NHL debut Thursday night against the Kraken before being returned to Providence.Maddie Meyer/Getty

Back to the AHL

Joona Koppanen was returned to AHL Providence the day after making his NHL debut Thursday, when he logged 8:50 in ice time, including 1:14 in penalty-killing duty

“I liked him,” said Montgomery. “I thought he was good on the penalty kill. I thought he was a good support player, a lot of traits similar to [Tomas] Nosek. For his first game in the NHL, when we weren’t on top of our game, I thought he was noticeable, trying to push the needle forward for us.

“Not that he doesn’t deserve it, but sometimes it’s in the back of my head that the guys who’ve gotten you here should be rewarded by playing Toronto.”

In practice, Nosek skated on a fourth line with Nick Foligno and A.J. Greer.

Jakub Zboril is stuck in no-man's land as the Bruins' seventh defenseman. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Caught in between

Defenseman Jakub Zboril suited up last Saturday in San Jose, only his second game since Nov. 13. Montgomery that night opted to go with seven defensemen, placing Zboril in a No. 7 relief role in which he logged only a 6:47 workload.

“He played well,” said Montgomery. “He carried the puck. He made assertive plays with the puck. I thought his gaps were good. So we liked his game.”

Zboril, 1-0—1 in only 14 games this season, will not be among the six blue liners to face the Leafs. The 25-year-old is in a tough spot, needing to grow his game but getting only rare chances to be in the lineup.


Zboril logged fewer than 200 minutes for the entire first half of the season — about the workload he would face monthly in the AHL.

Linus Ullmark is expected to get the start in net on Saturday. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Ullmark again?

Look for Montgomery to come right back in net with Linus Ullmark, whose stellar play Thursday had the Bruins still with a chance to win in the third period on a night when they were significantly outplayed by the Kraken. Ullmark fell to 22-2-1/1.88/.938. His only other regulation loss was that 2-1 trimming Nov. 5 in Toronto. As of Friday morning, three other goaltenders were challenging him for most wins: Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck (21), the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin (20), and Seattle’s Martin Jones (20), the latter of whom turned aside 27 shots for the shutout here Thursday … In Montgomery’s estimation, his Bruins have been in a “malaise” during their last four games on home ice, in which they’ve gone 2-1-1. Be it a symptom or the root cause, they were decidedly upside-down in lead time in those four games, gaining the advantage for only an aggregate 20:18 and trailing for 122:45. “A little bit of that is the grind of the season,” said the coach. “That was not the grind of the season last night. That was a really good team that we were excited to play and we didn’t match their intensity and work ethic” … The Flyers, seven points out of a wild-card spot as of Friday morning, will be in town for a Monday matinee. Look for Jeremy Swayman (9-3-3) to be in net vs. the Broad Streeters.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at