NHL

Bruins-Red Wings Preview

After another thrilling victory, the Boston Bruins are close to overtaking Detroit in the Atlantic Division and potentially putting the Red Wings on the Eastern Conference's hot seat.

The Bruins can take a significant step by earning their fourth consecutive win over their slumping Original Six rivals Thursday night.

A pair of third-period goals, including Milan Lucic's tiebreaker with 1:09 remaining, gave Boston a 3-2 win over Florida on Tuesday - its third in a row since an 0-3-3 skid. The Bruins' recent surge has drawn them within two points of the Red Wings in the division.

Because Detroit still has a game in hand, the Bruins (39-25-13) wouldn't claim third place in the Atlantic with a non-shootout victory Thursday but would match the Red Wings' 93 points and potentially give themselves a bigger cushion over ninth-place Ottawa in the East.

The Bruins hold a three-point lead but the Senators, who host Tampa Bay on Thursday, also have a game in hand.

"We try not to look at the standings too much because we have a job to do here and we have five important games left," goaltender Tuukka Rask said. "We're trying to focus on our game. Once the season is over, we'll look at the standings."

Boston has scored a combined 10 goals in its past two victories over Detroit (40-23-13) and won three straight between the teams. Daniel Paille tallied two in the most recent matchup, a 5-3 home victory March 8, and the Bruins snapped a five-game regular-season skid at Joe Louis Arena with a 3-2 shootout win Oct. 15.

The Red Wings have given up 47 goals in a 4-8-2 stretch but came within 4:03 of shutting out Ottawa on Tuesday before losing 2-1 in a shootout. Petr Mrazek gave up three goals in the four-round extra session, dropping Detroit to 3-10 in shootouts and 1-1-2 in their last four home games.

Pavel Datsyuk was scratched for the sixth time in eight games because of a lower-body injury, and Erik Cole and Riley Sheahan were also sidelined due to upper-body ailments. The Red Wings then lost Drew Miller in the first period when he was cut near his right eye by Senators forward Mark Stone's skate.

"We found a way to get a point. It was a huge point for us," coach Mike Babcock said. "I'm optimistic that by the time Boston gets to town we'll have more hands on deck."

Datsyuk has three goals and 11 assists in his last 11 regular-season games against Boston, including an active eight-game point streak. Gustav Nyquist has five goals and one assist in the past six regular-season matchups and Tomas Tatar has four goals and four assists in his last six.

They'll try to add to those numbers supporting Mrazek, slated to make his fourth consecutive start and his first against Boston. Rask is 6-2-0 with a 1.46 goals-against average in eight starts versus Detroit dating back to the start of last year's playoffs.

Patrice Bergeron has two goals and six assists in a seven-game point streak against the Red Wings that includes the postseason.

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