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Bruins battling to maintain hold on playoff spot

Boston visits St. Louis with one-point lead over Detroit for third in Atlantic

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

BRUINS (40-29-8) at BLUES (46-22-9)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NESN, FS-MW, NHL.TV

ST. LOUIS -- Mired in a stretch of six losses in seven games, the Boston Bruins are in a fight for their Stanley Cup Playoff lives.

The Bruins begin a tough two-game road stretch Friday with a game against the St. Louis Blues, who have clinched a playoff berth but are two points behind the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference and the Central Division.

The Bruins have a one-point lead on the Detroit Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division, are 1-6-0 and have scored 10 goals in the past seven games, and three of the goals came in a 3-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 26; they went 5-0-2 to begin March.

The Red Wings, who host the Minnesota Wild on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, FS-N, FS-D), are two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, so if the Bruins were to relinquish third in the division they would find themselves outside the playoff picture.

"Sometimes you are snake-bitten, but you try to work your way through it," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Unfortunately we can't go out there and score for them. They know that, but they just have to go out there and gain that confidence and maybe just bear down and making sure that you try your best to finish."

Julien said Friday morning that everyone on the trip is expected to take the pregame warmup, and defenseman John-Michael Liles (lower-body injury) and center Ryan Spooner (lower body) are expected to play.

Liles missed the past two games; Spooner has missed one game.

"All 23 hopefully will be out for warmup and we'll make a game-time decision if that's the case," Julien said.

The Blues, who have won five in a row and 11 of 13, have 101 points, their third straight 100-plus point season, with a game in hand on Dallas.

"They're good points for us too," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who will be coaching his 1,400th NHL game to tie him for seventh all-time with the late Pat Quinn, who was a close friend. "We need these points to keep pace with Dallas; home ice means the world."

Here are the projected lineups:

BRUINS
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano - Ryan Spooner - Lee Stempniak
Landon Ferraro - Noel Acciari - Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara - John-Michael Liles
Joe Morrow - Kevan Miller
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask
Jonas Gustavsson

Injured: Brett Connolly (undisclosed), Dennis Seidenberg (undisclosed)
Scratched: Tyler Randell, Zach Trotman, Seth Griffith

BLUES
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund - Alexander Steen - David Backes
Magnus Paajarvi - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Kevin Shattenkirk - Colton Parayko
Petteri Lindbohm - Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott
Jake Allen

Injured: Jay Bouwmeester (upper body), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body), Robby Fabbri (lower body), Steve Ott (hamstrings)
Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin, Anders Nilsson

Status report: Paajarvi, a healthy scratch the past five games, will play in place of Fabbri, who was injured Tuesday. Hitchcock said Fabbri, Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson skated before the optional and are day-to-day. … Seidenberg and Connolly did not make the trip for the Bruins, who play at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Who's hot: Stastny has 14 points in 10 games, including multipoint games in five of the past eight. Tarasenko has at least a point in three straight and nine of the past 12. … Eriksson and Vatrano each have a point in three of the past four games.

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