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Bruins visit Coyotes looking for 12th win in a row

by John Kreiser

BRUINS (48-17-5) at COYOTES (34-25-11)


Last 10: Boston 10-0-0; Phoenix 7-3-0

Season series: The Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes are playing for the second time in nine days. The Bruins held off a third-period push by the Coyotes in a 2-1 victory at TD Garden on March 13.

Big story: The victory against Phoenix was the seventh in a winning streak that reached 11 games Friday night when the Bruins beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 in Denver to wrap up a trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their next targets are first place in the Eastern Conference (they lead the Pittsburgh Penguins by six points) and the Presidents' Trophy (they're even with the St. Louis Blues, who have a game in hand). The Coyotes, who own the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, can give their own playoff hopes a major boost by snapping the Bruins' winning streak.

Team Scope:

Bruins: They know they'll be in the playoffs, but the Bruins have no intention of taking their foot off the gas in the final three weeks of the season.

"We still have to play our hockey, really focusing on the little details going into the playoffs, and not getting satisfied and complacent," captain Zdeno Chara said. "We just still have to push our team to the best, maximum results."

Boston got a superb 31-save performance by backup goaltender Chad Johnson and goals by Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg to beat the Avalanche. Johnson, who figures to watch Tuukka Rask play against the Coyotes, is 10-0-1 in his past 11 decisions.

The 11-game winning streak is Boston's longest since a 13-game run in 1970-71.

Coyotes: Phoenix has a winning streak of its own, though a three-game run pales in comparison to Boston's. But it's been enough to move the Coyotes back into the final playoff spot in the West; they begin the day four points ahead of the Dallas Stars.

But after having to hold on for a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday, the Coyotes know they're stepping up in class as they try to cool off the NHL's hottest team.

"There's a lot on the line no matter who we play," goaltender Mike Smith told "It doesn't matter if we just played Florida or we've got Boston coming in. With the position we're in, we don't have time to think about stuff like that.

"You want to play your best against the best teams in the League, obviously, but I think every game is so important right now that you need to play well every single game to get this team into the playoffs."

Who's hot: Forward Jarome Iginla didn't score Friday but has six goals in his past five games. Bergeron has goals in back-to-back games. … Smith has allowed six goals during the three-game winning streak and is 7-2-0 while starting the Coyotes' past nine games, allowing 17 goals during that stretch.

Injury report: Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk (foot) took warmups before the game in Denver but didn't play. Another defenseman, Adam McQuaid, has missed two months with a leg injury. … The Coyotes are without defenseman David Schlemko (lower body).

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