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Bruins-Predators Preview

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The Boston Bruins are trying to separate themselves from the middle of a tight Northeast Division.

Boston (19-13-3) looks for its second straight road win as it meets the Nashville Predators on Saturday at Gaylord Entertainment Center.

With a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, the Bruins kept pace with Ottawa at 41 points. Boston, though, has played just 35 games this season - and has two games in hand on both Buffalo and Montreal, and four on both the Senators and Toronto.

The Bruins are eight points behind the Canadiens, who are fourth in the Eastern Conference with 49 points. The top four teams in each conference get home-ice advantage in the postseason.

Boston is 4-0-1 in its last five games, picking up nine of a possible 10 points. The Bruins also are 6-3-1 with a tie all-time against the Predators and have posted four of those wins in Nashville.

Boston bounced back from a 5-4 overtime loss to Columbus on Tuesday with the win over the Blackhawks. Marc Savard had a goal and an assist, and Tim Thomas made 37 saves as the Bruins withstood a three-goal, third-period rally.

Thomas' best save came with 1:44 left in the third when he sprawled across the crease to snare Jeff Hamilton's point-blank attempt.

"It was actually an, 'Oh, no!' moment, as in, 'Oh, no! He's got a wide-open net,"' said Thomas, who improved to 17-8-3 and making his first-ever appearance against Nashville. "I was just trying to stay with him. It felt great to make that save."

Savard has six goals and 13 assists, including six multipoint games, in 12 December contests. The Bruins' leading scorer in his first season with team, Savard has a four-game points streak against the Predators with three goals and three assists over that stretch.

Nashville (25-10-3) returns home after losing its seventh straight in Dallas, 4-1 to the Stars on Friday. Scott Hartnell's goal less than five minutes into the contest was all the Predators could muster on offense.

With the score tied at 1, Nashville's Chris Mason gave up power-play goals to Jere Lehtinen and Antti Miettinen 34 seconds apart midway through the third. Nashville was penalized five times in the third period, but coach Barry Trotz didn't have a problem with any of the calls.

"We took too many bad penalties," Trotz said. "When I look at the replays of those penalties, they were non-working penalties. We deserved what we got. Dallas had some of their big guys out and they had other guys step up."

Overall, the Predators allowed three power-play goals - their most since surrendering a season-high five in a 6-5 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 7 in their second game this season.

Rookie Alexander Radulov assisted on Hartnell's goal, and will look to continue his recent success at home. He had a career-best three assists in a 7-0 win over Los Angeles last Saturday, and followed that effort by scoring the lone shootout goal in his first career attempt in Nashville's 3-2 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday.

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