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Bruins host Predators looking to snap skid

by Brian Hunter

PREDATORS (18-18-4) at BRUINS (26-12-2)


Last 10: Nashville 5-4-1; Boston 6-4-0

Season series: This is the final game between the Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins this season. Jarome Iginla scored twice and Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg each had a goal and two assists to lead Boston to a 6-2 win in Nashville on Dec. 23. Craig Smith scored both goals for the Predators.

Big story: The Bruins will welcome a pair of healthy bodies back into their lineup as they look to snap a two-game losing streak. Soderberg, who missed both defeats with an undisclosed injury, and defenseman Dougie Hamilton, out the past 10 games due to a lower-body injury, were both cleared by the team's medical staff and will play.

Team Scope:

Predators: This is the start of a three-game road trip for Nashville in a month that figures to be critical to its Stanley Cup Playoff hopes. The Predators are currently nine points out and would have to jump four teams, including three in their own division, in order to get into a playoff position.

Spirits are high, though, after they responded to a damaging 0-4-1 stretch to win their final two games in 2013, including a 6-4 win Monday against the Detroit Red Wings in which Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher had three-point nights.

"We're back to .500 and feeling good about ourselves and are getting on a roll," Fisher said in the Tennessean. "We're not that far out of it. We've got a good group here and we're playing well. We've beaten a lot of great teams this year. We just haven't had the consistency that we need."

Bruins: Only the Pittsburgh Penguins have more home wins this season than Boston, but TD Garden didn't seem to offer the Bruins much of an advantage Tuesday in a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders.

Patrice Bergeron and Daniel Paille scored 25 seconds apart to give Boston a 3-1 lead in the second period, but the Islanders cashed in on repeated trips by the Bruins to the penalty box, to the tune of four power-play goals.

"We've lost two in a row now," coach Claude Julien said. "We don't like being in that situation, so hopefully we get a positive response from our team on Thursday."

Who's hot: Fisher has three goals and three assists in the past two games for the Predators. Seth Jones has consecutive games with two assists and is plus-5 over that span. … Iginla (four goals, two assists), David Krejci (three goals, three assists) and Milan Lucic (one goal, four assists) all have five-game point streaks for the Bruins.

Injury report: Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne (hip) is on injured reserve. … The anticipated returns of Soderberg and Hamilton leave Boston without forwards Chris Kelly (ankle) and Loui Eriksson (concussion), as well as defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (knee), who will miss the remainder of the season.

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