Since Jan. 1, the Boston Bruins have been one of the top teams in the NHL. They own a 27-9-3 record and have vaulted up the Eastern Conference standings. They have won 14 of their last 17, with their 41st victory coming Saturday afternoon in a dominating 6-3 win over the New York Islanders.

During their run since Jan. 1, they have two regulation wins over the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals and they went 5-1-0 on a six-game road trip earlier this month. At the trade deadline, general manager Don Sweeney addressed his team’s need for a top-four left-shot defenseman by acquiring Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks.

Despite all the success the Bruins have had, they face their biggest challenge when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden Tuesday night in what is promising to be an intense battle between two Original Six teams.

Maple Leafs Won First Game Handily

When the two teams played their first game on Nov. 6 at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto won 5-2 and did so in a fairly easy fashion. The only advantage that the Bruins had was outshooting the Maple Leafs, 44-36, including 23 shots in the third period, but Jack Campbell was up to the task making 42 saves, including 22 in the third period alone.

Toronto used two power play goals and two goals each from their big stars, Auston Matthews and John Tavares. Mitch Marner scored the final Maple Leafs’ goal, while Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak scored the Bruins’ goals. In the big picture, the Bruins were a frustrated team that lost that night and they looked like a team looking for their identity. They failed to clear pucks out of their zone which led to power play goals and dug themselves a hole trailing 3-1 entering the third period.

Matthews is tied with Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers with 48 goals and Matthews also has 35 assists. He is making a serious case for the Hart Trophy this season.