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Bruins at Devils preview

Boston can stretch lead for second place in Atlantic; Zacha to return for New Jersey

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

BRUINS (44-20-9) AT DEVILS (27-38-9)

7 p.m. ET; SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG, NESN, NHL.TV


The Game

The Boston Bruins will look to extend their lead for second place in the Atlantic Division when they visit the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday.

The Bruins, who have won two straight and are 15-3-1 in their past 19 games, are four points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs with a game in hand.

Goalie Tuukka Rask will start; he's 17-2-3 with a 2.13 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and four shutouts in his past 23 games (21 decisions).

Center Pavel Zacha will return to the Devils lineup after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury. New Jersey, 2-8-1 in its past 11 games, has been eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Players to watch

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his past 11 games.

Devils forward Kenny Agostino has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past six games.


They said it

"Finishing ahead of Toronto (in the Atlantic Division) will allow us to get home ice advantage. Listen, we take it one game at a time until we're in, and once we're in, we'll worry about what's next. We're not catching [the] Tampa Bay [Lightning], we know that, so we'd like to keep our place ahead of Toronto." -- Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy

"We need to play the game extremely hard in the competitive areas and we need to execute; we have to get into the areas where you can score because we haven't done that enough. You can't have mental lapses against a team like Boston because they have so much depth and firepower." -- Devils coach John Hynes


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- Charlie Coyle

Danton Heinen -- Sean Kuraly -- Chris Wagner

Joakim Nordstrom -- Noel Acciari -- David Backes

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

John Moore -- Brandon Carlo

Steven Kampfer -- Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Trent Frederic, Paul Carey

Injured: Kevan Miller (upper body), Marcus Johansson (lung contusion), Torey Krug (concussion), Matt Grzelcyk (arm)


Devils projected lineup

Blake Coleman -- Travis Zajac -- Stefan Noesen

Blake Pietila -- Pavel Zacha -- Drew Stafford

Kenny Agostino -- Kevin Rooney -- Joey Anderson

Eric Tangradi -- Michael McLeod -- Kurtis Gabriel

Andy Greene -- Damon Severson

Steven Santini -- Connor Carrick

Egor Yakovlev -- Josh Jacobs

Cory Schneider

Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratched: Nick Lappin, John Quenneville, Sami Vatanen, Colton White 

Injured: Nathan Bastian (upper body), Jesper Bratt (lower body), Taylor Hall (lower body), Nico Hischier (upper body), Mirco Mueller (upper body), Miles Wood (lower body), Kyle Palmieri (upper body), Will Butcher (illness)


Status report

Miller, Grzelcyk and Johansson each skated Thursday; each is expected to practice with the Bruins on Friday. … Jacobs was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League and will make his NHL debut.


Stat pack

Marchand has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games. ... Schneider is 5-4-1 with a 2.09 GAA, .934 save percentage and one shutout in his past 10 games (nine starts).

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