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Bruins, Flyers try to rediscover stretch-run momentum

by Brian Hunter

FLYERS (39-28-9) at BRUINS (52-18-7)


Last 10: Philadelphia 5-3-2; Boston 7-1-2

Season series: This is the third and final game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins. The Bruins will go for the sweep after routing the Flyers 6-1 in Philadelphia on Jan. 25 and winning again at Wells Fargo Center in a shootout, 4-3, on March 30. Defenseman Zdeno Chara has three goals and forward Jarome Iginla has five points to lead all scorers.

Big story: Boston is winless in two straight (0-1-1) for the first time since the final game of February and the first game of March, right before the Bruins went on their 15-0-1 run. Philadelphia, meanwhile, hasn't scored a goal since the final minute of regulation in its shootout loss to Boston on Sunday. The Flyers have since been shut out in consecutive games by the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Its offense still ranks 12th in the NHL at 2.76 goals per game, but the recent dry spell by Philadelphia is threatening its positioning in the Eastern Conference with six games left before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flyers' 2-0 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday allowed Columbus to draw within two points of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division and an automatic postseason berth.

Overall, the Flyers are 1-3-2 since a five-game winning streak, and the matinee Saturday becomes all the more important because if they slip into a wild-card spot they could end up drawing the Bruins in the first round.

"It's been a dogfight all year, especially the way we started," forward Scott Hartnell said in the Philadelphia Daily News. "I think we deserve all the credit, coming back to where we are now, putting us in a great position. But we need to keep winning games."

Bruins: The top seed in the Eastern Conference can be wrapped up Saturday, but Boston is still battling St. Louis for the Presidents' Trophy. The teams are tied with 111 points, but the Blues currently have the edge because they have six games remaining to five for the Bruins.

Iginla returned from a minor injury that kept him out against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, while forward Carl Soderberg missed the game Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs to be with his wife who was having a baby. The Bruins rallied from a 3-1 third-period deficit on goals by Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron before falling to a desperate Maple Leafs team 4-3 in overtime.

"That's what's going to keep us sharp here: the fact that we still have some games to play against teams that are fighting for positions and playoffs and everything else," coach Claude Julien said. "So that's what we want. We don't want an easy game; we don't need that right now."

Who's hot: Despite the Flyers' slump, goalie Steve Mason is still 5-2-1 in his past eight starts with a .932 save percentage. … Bergeron has nine goals in as many games for the Bruins, as well as five assists during a 10-game point streak. Forward Brad Marchand has one goal and three assists during a three-game point streak.

Injury report: Philadelphia forward Steve Downie (upper body) remains out. … Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid (quad) is on injured reserve.

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