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Preview: Bruins at Maple Leafs

Toronto tries to strengthen hold on wild card; Boston aims to gain ground on Senators in Atlantic Division

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

BRUINS (38-27-6) at MAPLE LEAFS (32-23-15)

7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, TSN4, NESN, NHL.TV


Bruins team scope

The Boston Bruins are in third place in the Atlantic Division, three points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the Maple Leafs hold a game in hand. The Bruins are four points behind the second-place Ottawa Senators. "At this time of the year you are motivated to get as many points as possible in every game," defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "You see the standings, it's so close that any game, any point, can make a big difference at the end. Our focus is really bring our best and play the way that we are capable of." Goaltender Tuukka Rask will get the start. He was pulled in the second period of a 7-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday after allowing five goals on 17 shots. The Bruins are 12-4-0 since Bruce Cassidy took over as coach. "I think he's a pretty straightforward coach," forward Matt Beleskey said. "He doesn't dwell on mistakes. He definitely lets you know you've made them and how to correct them and we move on. That's something we're trying to focus on. You don't really have time to dwell on anything right now."


Maple Leafs team scope

The Maple Leafs hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They are one point ahead of the New York Islanders and two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and hold a game in hand on each team. "Games like this, where you can set yourself up for playoff opportunities, they become a lot more fun," center Brian Boyle said. "You can see the light at the end of tunnel. You don't have 75 games left or in the middle of January where you've played 40 and you're beat up and have 40 left. It takes a lot to get to this point. We're in a great position. We should embrace that." Defenseman Connor Carrick will return to the lineup and play alongside Morgan Rielly. Carrick had missed the past 11 games because of an upper-body injury sustained Feb. 21. "It's probably going to be at a 110-percent pace of what the game was played at when I was injured," Carrick said. "The battle is to get in the flow of the game, keep a rhythm, stay out of your own head and just play hockey. Playing with Morgan will help do that. No excuse, I expect a good game out of myself." Goaltender Frederik Andersen will make his seventh consecutive start. He is 4-1-1 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in his past six games.


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Backes

Matt Beleskey -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano -- Ryan Spooner -- Drew Stafford

Noel Acciari -- Dominic Moore -- Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara -- Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug -- Adam McQuaid

Colin Miller -- Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Sean Kuraly, Jimmy Hayes, John-Michael Liles, Joe Morrow

Injured: Tim Schaller (lower body)


Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly -- Connor Carrick

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Martin Marincin, Alexey Marchenko, Eric Fehr, Josh Leivo, Ben Smith

Injured: None


Status Report

Backes was not at the morning skate and will be a game-time decision. He is dealing with a cold but Cassidy said he expects Backes will play. ... Bozak and van Riemsdyk were not at the morning skate but Babcock said they will play.


Who's hot

Bergeron has five assists during a four-game point streak. Marchand has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in his past six games. Pastrnak has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) during an 11-game point streak. Chara has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past five games. … Nylander has seven points (one goal, six assists) during an NHL career-high seven-game point streak. Bozak has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past eight games.

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