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Blackhawks-Bruins Preview

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The remaining games on Boston's homestand feature the clubs favored to face each other in the Stanley Cup Final, which isn't exactly ideal for a Bruins team that possesses the worst home record of any Eastern Conference team that's currently in playoff position.

The Chicago Blackhawks' schedule isn't exactly doing them any favors, either.

Chicago returns to Boston for the third time since celebrating its 2013 championship on the TD Garden ice looking to send the Bruins to their second loss during their home stretch Thursday night.

The Bruins (35-23-6) are four points back of first-place Florida in the Atlantic Division, but moving up to open the playoffs at home actually could turn out to be a disadvantage. They've gone 14-16-3 in Boston and opened a four-game homestand with a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Patrice Bergeron scored on the power play late in the third period Tuesday to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory over Calgary, and they're likely in for a couple more tough ones before hitting the road.

After this contest with West-leading Chicago (40-20-5), NHL-best Washington visits Saturday to complete the homestand. Boston then begins a stretch of 10 of 13 on the road with a back-to-back set against Florida and Tampa Bay.

"We do have some tough games coming up, so this is pretty good for our team playing against the best teams in the league," forward David Krejci told the team's official website. "We're going to have to play our best game and we'll see where we're at, but we obviously believe in this group."

Boston will be shorthanded for the next four after forward Zac Rinaldo sat out Tuesday for the first of a five-game suspension he received for an illegal hit on Lightning forward Cedric Paquette. Coach Claude Julien realizes the upcoming schedule would be difficult even if his squad was at full strength.

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"Let's focus on Chicago, put your energy towards that game. Let's worry about the others as we move on," Julien said. "It's always been the best approach. To me, it's the only approach to take."

Bergeron had a goal and two assists in the Bruins' 6-2 win at Chicago in the most recent meeting Feb. 22, 2015, but the Blackhawks have won three of the last four in Boston, including the clinching victory in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Chicago is a favorite to win its fourth Cup in seven years and beat the Capitals 3-2 in a possible Final preview Sunday. It followed that up with a 5-2 victory at Detroit on Wednesday to reclaim sole possession of the West lead.

NHL points leader Patrick Kane had a goal against Washington, then assisted on both of Artemi Panarin's goals and scored one of his own against the Red Wings.

Kane's three power-play points Wednesday gave him a league-most 32 with the man advantage and tied his career high of 88 overall set in 2009-10.

''Everyone has moments when they're not firing on all cylinders, but he still finds ways to contribute offensively,'' captain Jonathan Toews said of Kane. ''That shows how much focus and skill he really has this year.''

Much like Boston, the Blackhawks are in the midst of a tough stretch against playoff competition. They'll face Detroit again Sunday followed by St. Louis, Dallas - which are tied for second in the West - Pacific-leading Los Angeles and playoff-hopeful Philadelphia.

Corey Crawford appears ready for the challenge having posted a 2.02 goals-against average over his last three. It's possible, though, that Scott Darling gets the call in this one to complete the back-to-back set.

Tuukka Rask has a 1.75 GAA while winning three of his last four and should get the nod for the Bruins.