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GAME: Boston Bruins (32-16-14-7) at Nashville Predators (33-25-8-2).

TIME: Tuesday, 8 p.m. EST.

The Boston Bruins continue their battle for the top spot in the muddled Eastern Conference when they visit a Nashville Predators team trying to make the playoffs for the first time.

Boston is among a handful of teams in the conference with a legitimate chance of earning the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. The Bruins are currently in fifth place in the East, but that positioning can change very quickly if they continue their recent pace of earning points.

Boston came from behind to tie the Atlanta Thrashers 2-2 at home on Saturday, earning at least one point for the 17th time in 19 games.

Mike Knuble scored a power-play goal with 5:14 left in the third period to lift the Bruins into the tie.

"Obviously we don't feel good about the effort we had," Boston's Brian Rolston said. "We were glad to get the point after they went up 2-1, but we let them hang around too long."

Knuble assisted on the first goal and registered his 200th career point with his goal.

"I think he's the unsung hero on his line," Boston coach Mike Sullivan said of Knuble, who plays alongside All-Stars Joe Thornton and Glen Murray. "He does all the dirty work for those guys. He's a terrific two-way player that does all the little things."

Nashville, in its sixth season in the NHL, has a good shot of making the playoffs for the first time.

The Predators are tied with the Calgary Flames for sixth place in the Western Conference, and are three points ahead of both the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings for the eighth and final playoff berth.

Nashville, however, has been struggling of late.

The Predators lost 4-2 on the road to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, and have just one victory in their last four games after winning five of six.

"We have to learn to bear down," Nashville forward Steve Sullivan said. "Points are precious and we're in too deep into a dogfight to be giving up points like that."

Forward Sergei Zholtok and defenseman Brad Bombardir, acquired from the Minnesota Wild on Friday, are expected to make their Predators debuts Tuesday.

Boston is winless in its last three road contests, while Nashville is unbeaten in its last five home games.

STANDINGS (through March 7): Bruins - 85 points, 3rd place, 1 PB, Northeast Division. Predators - 76 points, 2nd place, 13 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Murray, 28 goals; Thornton, 45 assists and 64 points; Doug Doull, 117 PIM. Predators - Sullivan, 22 goals, 39 assists and 61 points; Jordin Tootoo, 127 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 7): Bruins - Power play: 16.5 percent (41 for 249), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (230 for 276), 20th. Predators - Power play: 17.7 percent (64 for 361), 8th. Penalty killing: 82.1 percent (256 for 312), 24th.

GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Andrew Raycroft (22-16-8, 3 SO, 1.99 GAA); Felix Potvin (10-7-6, 4, 2.57). Predators - Tomas Vokoun (30-23-7, 3, 2.56); Chris Mason (3-4-1, 1, 2.28).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 28; Predators, 2-1. At Boston, Greg Johnson snapped a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal midway through the first period as the Predators won at the FleetCenter for the first time since Dec. 21, 1999.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 18-7-6-5 on the road; Predators - 21-7-6-1 at home.

Associated Press
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