The Northeast Division-leading Bruins and the Southeast co-leading Panthers look to put their most recent losses behind them when they face off in Florida.
The Bruins (28-12-1) fell 4-2 at Carolina on Saturday, their third loss in seven games after losing only three times in their previous 24. Saturday's contest was tied before the Hurricanes' Jay Harrison beat Tim Thomas with 1:30 left in regulation, and Carolina added an empty netter -- its third straight goal after falling behind 2-1.
"There's been a few games where we haven't been our best and have found a way to win, but last night it caught up to us," center Tyler Seguin told the Bruins' official website.
"We got that feeling of losing a game, and it's something we don't want to have again."
The reigning Stanley Cup champions haven't endured the feeling of losing twice in a row since Dec. 6 and 8, when the second defeat was a 2-0 home loss to the Panthers (21-14-8). The Bruins more than turned the tables on Florida 15 days later, winning an 8-0 rout as Brad Marchand's three goals and two assists led the way.
Marchand will miss this game as he continues to serve a five-game suspension for a hit on Vancouver's Sami Salo.
That Dec. 23 loss in Boston concluded a three-game skid for the Panthers, but one of those losses occurred in overtime. Florida hasn't dropped consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 18 and 20 against Washington and Buffalo.
The Panthers are now not only in danger of going two games without earning a point, but they've also dropped three of four and seven of 10 (3-5-2) to fall into a tie with the Capitals for the Southeast lead.
Florida fell 4-1 at home to Pittsburgh on Friday. Scott Clemmensen made 37 saves, but they weren't nearly enough as the Panthers got outshot 41-26 and only had one power-play opportunity.
"They kept coming at us hard all night long, right from the start," Clemmensen said. "They were a desperate team, they played desperate, they worked hard, they outworked us for the most part all night long. Give them credit. They outworked us and they deserved to win tonight."
Usually the backup, Clemmensen could be in net again Monday if Jose Theodore isn't yet ready. Theodore has missed the last four games with a knee injury, but began skating again Thursday and is hoping to return sometime this week.
Clemmensen and Theodore each allowed four goals in last month's loss to Boston, but Theodore made a season-high 40 saves in the Dec. 8 shutout of the Bruins.
This is the first visit of the season to the BankAtlantic Center for the Bruins, who have won four straight there since a 2-0 loss Feb. 21, 2009. Boston's four-game road trip continues Tuesday against Tampa Bay before concluding Thursday at New Jersey.
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