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Bruins return home to face rival Flyers

BOSTON -- Having salvaged the final game of a four-game road trip, the Boston Bruins return home to play a pair of old rivals in a span of three days.

First, the Bruins, who went 1-1-2 on their early journey and are 5-2-2 on the season, face the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night -- two nights before the Montreal Canadiens come calling.

The Bruins have scored 31 goals in the first nine games. Their top line -- Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak -- has 19 of those goals. They were temporarily broken up two games ago but quickly put back together and Pastrnak had a four-point game in the win at Ottawa Tuesday night.

"It was big," Pastrnak said after he scored two goals, assisted on two others and also drew a too-many-men penalty on the Senators by skating straight at the extra man.

"Even though we had two points on this trip, we haven't won and obviously every loss feels tough and (it's) good that we came hard today and get a big win for us."

Pastrnak has 10 goals. The trio is a combined plus-19 and has totaled 44 points. The need for other scoring has been glaring, but when you have a line this hot, there is a certain amount already built in -- and their production has helped the team through several early injuries.

Especially on defense, where Charlie McAvoy (upper body), Kevan Miller (hand) and Torey Krug (ankle, yet to play) were already out -- and 19-year-old rookie Urho Vaakanainen suffered a concussion when nailed by a Matt Borowiecki elbow that was under investigation from the league.

The Flyers (4-5-0) are also already hit hard by injury.

With James van Riemsdyk gone for 5-6 weeks with a lower body injury (he will start skating soon after getting hurt Oct. 8), Michael Raffl went down Monday and will be gone 4-6 weeks, also with a lower body.

Tuukka Rask, given a couple of games off to get his game together, responded with 38 saves on 39 shots at Ottawa and is the likely starter Thursday. He is 14-2-3 with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage lifetime against the Flyers, who have just one win in their last eight games at TD Garden.

The Flyers have yielded 37 goals in nine games, just over four per contest.

"I hope the players are frustrated, because if they're not, we've got a problem," general manager Ron Hextall said Tuesday.

With Michael Neuvirth just sent to the minors for conditioning as he returns from a lower body injury, Brian Elliott has played seven of the first nine games and the numbers aren't pretty. He is 2-4-0 with a 3.59 goals-against average and .882 save percentage.

Current backup Calvin Pickard has won his only career start against the Bruins, yielding two goals for the Colorado Avalanche in a Dec. 12, 2016 victory at TD Garden.

Philly's Nolan Patrick has scored a goal in the last two games after coming back from and upper-body injury, while Travis Sanheim has had an assist in the last two and has points in three of the last four games.

Monday's 4-1 loss to Colorado gave the Avs a sweep of the season series for the first time since 1988-89.

Updated October 24, 2018

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