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Bruins host Flames in battle of playoff hopefuls

by Dan Rosen
FLAMES (37-28-9) at BRUINS (33-28-12)

Last 10 -- Calgary 6-4-0; Boston 4-5-1

Season series --
This is the only meeting of the season between these two teams.

Big story --
Massive playoff implications on the line in this one. The Bruins are trying to stave off the Thrashers and Rangers and hang onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Flames know they need to start stringing together some wins now if they plan on landing a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Boston is clinging to a two-point lead over Atlanta for eighth in the East while the Flames entered Friday ninth in the West, six points back of the Avalanche and Red Wings.

Team Scope:

Flames --
The time is now for these Calgary Flames, but they keep putting roadblocks up for themselves. The latest was a dreadful 3-2 loss on Long Island Thursday night. The Flames had a chance to pull within two points of the Red Wings for that eighth seed and they had a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. It evaporated just 28 seconds into the third period and they fell behind about 11 minutes later. Calgary couldn't recover despite getting 12 shots on Martin Biron in the final period, including eight after Bruno Gervais scored with 8:29 to play in regulation.

"We didn't work hard enough and this time of year, that's unacceptable," forward Eric Nystrom said. "We have to win every game for the rest of the year or else we're in trouble."

Since winning four out of five coming out of the Olympic break, the Flames are just 3-4 over their last seven games. Not only are they playing a desperate Bruins team Saturday, but it doesn't get any easier Sunday when they go to Washington to face the best team in the NHL.

Bruins -- Boston didn't do itself any favors with Thursday night's error-filled 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay, which scored five goals on just 18 shots. Coupled with the Rangers' shootout win over New Jersey and the Thrashers getting a point in a loss to Toronto, the Bruins' lead for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is down to just two points. Boston put 50 shots on goal, but Antero Niittymaki made 47 saves and Steven Stamkos scored a pair of goals for the Lightning, including the winner late in the second period.

"Right now, our concern is that we need to bounce back and we need to win the next hockey game," coach Claude Julien said. "The next hockey game happens to be in (our) home building, where we've got to be better as well."

The Bruins are 6-6-1 since the Olympic break. They still have to play the Sabres twice, the Capitals twice and once against New Jersey.

Who's hot --
Bruins forward David Krejci has four points over the last two games and 13 since the Olympic break. … Nystrom had a goal and an assist for the Flames in his first-career game at Nassau Coliseum, where his father, Bob, rose to fame. It was Nystrom's first multi-point game since Nov. 14.

Injury report -- The Bruins could again be without Vladimir Sobotka, who suffered a head injury Tuesday against Atlanta and missed Thursday's game against Tampa Bay. The Boston Globe reported that Sobotka did not suffer a concussion when he was hit early in Tuesday's game by Thrashers forward Evgeny Artyukhin. … The Flames are down Curtis Glencross (knee), Daymond Langkow (neck) and Christopher Higgins (foot).

Stat pack -- Do not expect a high-scoring game in Boston, as both the Bruins and Flames are at the bottom of the NHL in scoring. The Flames are slightly better than the B's, though. Calgary is ranked 27th with 2.51 goals per game while Boston is dead last at 2.38 goals per game. Before Thursday night, the last time the Bruins scored at least three goals in regulation at TD Garden was Dec. 30 in a 4-0 win over Atlanta.

Puck drop -- "It's got to come from within," Flames coach Brent Sutter told the Calgary Herald following the 3-2 loss to the Islanders. "You've got to be an attitude like, 'How bad do I want it?' It's one thing to say you want it, it's another to do it. No one's left off the hook in that. And it's part of the reason we're in the situation we are. We've got to keep forging ahead, stay positive. As a coach, I've got to keep the group charged and going forward. But inside that room, inside themselves, they've got to want it. Bad."

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