Welcome back, hockey fans.
The brief Christmas break that took place around the NHL was much needed and it was great for the players to enjoy some time with their families.
Now, it was back to business.
The Boston Bruins continue their dominance along the top of the Atlantic Division. That still sounds weird to say. Does anyone remember the Northeast Division?
Anyway, the B's were about to welcome in a divisional rival that is poised to challenge them as the season progresses. The Ottawa Senators came into the TD Garden on Friday night for the first game of a home-and-home series. In fact, this was the final home-and-home series that Boston would play in this season.
The Senators, who defeated the B's in their only meeting back in November, have been struggling lately. These two games would be crucial for both teams for totally different reasons. Could Boston increase its lead in the division or could Ottawa get back on track?
Prior to puck drop, it was announced that Daniel Paille would make his return to the lineup for the home game against the Sens. He missed the last seven games with a concussion. Also, goaltender Niklas Svedberg was recalled from Providence while Matt Bartkowski made his return to the blue line.
In Friday's game, the goaltenders alternated periods of greatness. Tuukka Rask and Robin Lehner were keeping their respective teams in the game by making big stop after big stop. After nearly two scoreless periods, Jarome Iginla notched a power play goal to put the B's on top.
David Krejci and Brad Marchand (shorthanded) each added one, and Reilly Smith added a pair in the third period to seal the 5-0 victory for the Bruins. Both Iginla and Smith were riding three-game point streaks after Friday night. Iggy's streak would extend to four games after Saturday.
With Smith's goals, it marked the seventh-straight game with a multi-goal scorer and that tied a franchise record. Rask stopped all 33 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season (20th of his career). Also, 10 different Bruins posted at least one point.
In Saturday's game, a contest that did not feature Zdeno Chara, the Bruins fell to the Senators by a score of 4-3. It was reported before the game that Dennis Seidenberg is out for the year with a knee injury. That is a huge blow. David Warsofsky took his place in Saturday's game. As for the future, who knows?
The Bruins will play their next game on Tuesday night against the New York Islanders, the last game of 2013.
Gold Star: Reilly Smith/Brad Marchand...With the way that these two have been clicking with each other over the last couple of games, this is well deserved. Smith leads the team in goals while Marchand is building up his point total quickly.
Black Star: Carl Soderberg...This seems to be happening way too often. When he is clicking, he is a solid player. When he goes through his rough stretches, it is hard to watch him. It is still a shame to see him get hurt.