Even though the Boston Bruins are already on the cusp of clinching the Atlantic Division, coach Jim Montgomery knows how difficult it is to win in the National Hockey League.
Yet again, a winning streak is growing.
The Bruins (55-11-5, 115 points) will go for their sixth consecutive victory when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon.
"I know we've won a lot this year, but it really is (hard to win) with the schedule as challenging as it is right now," Montgomery said. "We're playing four games a week, and it's four in six nights consecutively for five weeks, so we're not going to have the most energy we usually have."
Saturday begins the Bruins' third of five straight weekend back-to-backs, the second including a road game following a home game.
Following the game, Boston heads to face Carolina, which became the second team to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth after beating the New York Rangers on Thursday.
David Pastrnak is one goal away from becoming the Bruins' first 50-goal scorer since current team president Cam Neely in 1993-94.
The winger's 49th of the season set a new career-high mark and stood as the game-winner in Thursday's 4-2 win over Montreal.
"He's probably the best at knowing where to go to score goals in this league -- or one of them, if not top three," Jake DeBrusk said. "You just try to take notes, honestly, day to day and see how he does it."
After the Canadiens pulled goaltender Jake Allen, linemate Brad Marchand attempted to set up Pastrnak for the milestone goal with an empty net.
"(This team is) incredibly selfless," Montgomery said. "You see guys sacrificing their bodies blocking shots, you see plays like that. It's not the first time we've seen guys pass up an empty-net goal to try and get somebody else. Whether they're trying to get 20 goals, 50 goals, 800 points, 1,000 points. A lot of milestones this year."
Pastrnak has seven goals and 15 points in his last 11 games.
On Friday, forward A.J. Greer will have a hearing with NHL Player Safety after being assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a cross-check to Montreal's Mike Hoffman's face during Thursday's first period.
The Lightning (42-25-7, 90 points) are 5-4-1 in their last 10, having lost three straight -- including Thursday's 7-2 loss to Ottawa -- following a three-game win streak.
Tampa has scored just twice in each of its recent losses, with Thursday's game marking the third since February in which it allowed seven goals. A four-goal third period blew open Ottawa's lead.
"We fed everything they did, and it's unfortunate," Tampa coach Jon Cooper said. "We're having a little tough stretch here, but it's all self-inflicted. I'm just not sure when they're going to learn, but they're learning tough lessons."
Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev scored the Lightning goals, both of which were assisted by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Stamkos has three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak.
On Thursday, though, it was far too little. The Lightning will have to correct the turnover issue quickly while readying for the NHL's best team.
"I think there is a little bit of feeling sorry for ourselves, a tiny bit," Cooper said. "I think that's what makes it tough. They know they're making these mistakes."
--Field Level Media
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