With each November game, the Boston Bruins have made their lackluster start look smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror.
The Columbus Blue Jackets' woeful opening stretch shows no sign of ending -- and may inevitably define their whole season.
If they're to finally claim their first road victory since March on Thursday night, the Blue Jackets will have to end Boston's six-game winning streak.
The Bruins (9-7-0) may have fallen victim to a Stanley Cup hangover while losing seven of their first 10, but they've returned to championship form while going 6-0-0 this month, outscoring opponents 34-13.
One more win would match the team's longest string of victories from last season.
"There were a lot of distractions at the start of the year. Maybe we weren't really focused on doing the job of being the Stanley Cup champions," forward Brad Marchand said. "Now we realize how hard we have to battle every night."
Boston did that Tuesday, scoring three third-period goals to fend off a pair of New Jersey comebacks for a 4-3 win. Benoit Pouliot scored the game-winner with 3:01 remaining after he was a healthy scratch in the Bruins' previous game, Saturday's 6-2 win over Buffalo.
Boston's red-hot offense may not find much resistance against Columbus, which has allowed a league-high 3.71 goals per game.
The Blue Jackets (3-13-1) are at least eight points behind every other team in the Western Conference. They led 2-0 midway through Tuesday's game against Minnesota, but fell apart and lost 4-2 despite outshooting the Wild 45-24.
"For 30 minutes (we) absolutely dominated them, probably our best 30 minutes of the year and then we just seemed to go into a shell," coach Scott Arniel said. "We just seemed to proceed to turn pucks over."
Columbus' problems have been even bigger on the road. The club is 0-10-2 away from home since a 5-4 win at Minnesota on March 19, with all seven losses this season coming in regulation by a combined 35-15.
After visiting Boston, where the Bruins are 5-0-0 this month, the Blue Jackets travel to Nashville, where they're 0-12-5 since the start of the 2006-07 season.
Columbus' last road game was a 9-2 loss in Philadelphia on Nov. 5 that Rick Nash called "embarrassing." Nash has no goals and two assists along with a minus-9 rating in his last five games.
"He's squeezing his stick pretty tight now," Arniel said.
A healthy Jeff Carter also hasn't immediately helped, posting a minus-3 with no points in two games since returning from a fractured foot. Carter has no goals in seven games with Columbus after scoring 115 over the last three seasons for the Flyers.
Embattled goalie Steve Mason is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average in three career starts against the Bruins, but Boston has been getting offense from a multitude of sources lately.
With two assists, Gregory Campbell was the lone Bruin to record more than one point Tuesday. Tyler Seguin wasn't among the team's 10 players on the scoresheet against the Devils, but the 19-year-old star still leads Boston with 11 goals and 20 points.
Seguin scored the lone shootout goal in a 3-2 win at Columbus in the teams' only meeting last season.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NHL game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.