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Bruins wrap up road trip with stop in Minnesota

by John McGourty /

BRUINS (11-8-4) at WILD (8-12-2)

Last 10 -- Bruins 5-2-3; Wild 5-3-2

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the only time this season. Minnesota won both meetings last year. The Wild beat the Bruins, 4-3, on Oct. 11 in St. Paul when Eric Belanger scored twice and Niklas Backstrom made 34 saves. Backstrom made 28 saves and Marek Zidlicky scored on a second-period slap shot to beat the Bruins, 1-0, in Boston on Jan. 6.

Big story -- The Bruins are finally starting to get healthy. Top-six forward Mila Lucic came back late last week, and first-line center Marc Savard returned Monday night in Boston's 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues after missing 15 games with a broken foot. The Bruins had the NHL's second-worst power play, 13.2 percent, but scored two goals with the man advantage.

For the Wild, the big story is defenseman's Brent Burns' second concussion since February. He missed the last 19 games last season with a concussion.

Team Scope:

Bruins -- The Bruins, Northeast Division winners a year ago but mired in third place in the division and sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, are healthy for the first time all year. Coach Claude Julien has Savard centering fleet Marco Sturm and muscular Byron Bitz. Patrice Bergeron centers Blake Wheeler and Mark Recchi while David Krejci is between Lucic and Michael Ryder. Steve Begin, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton make an energetic fourth line. The Bruins had the fourth-best power play last season, and it looked good Monday against St. Louis, scoring twice in five tries.

Wild -- The Wild rank 22nd with 2.61 goals-per-game but have averaged three goals per game over their past seven outings. Injured players Martin Havlat, Chuck Kobasew and Petr Sykora combined for 75 points last season. The Wild and Canadiens gave up on a pair of disappointments Monday as the Wild acquired Guillaume Latendresse, a 2005 second-rounder who has 48 goals in 232 games, for Benoit Pouliot, the No. 4 pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, who has 9 goals in 65 games.

Who's hot -- Bergeron assisted on all four goals against St. Louis and 10 points in the past nine games. Krejci has five points in the past five games. Wheeler and Recchi have four points in the past five games. Rookie goalie Tuukka Rask is 3-0 with a .938 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average in the Bruins' last three games. … The Wild's Andrew Brunette has three points in the past two games. Owen Nolan has three points in the past three games. Backstrom has won five of his past nine starts with two shootout losses, gaining 12 of a possible 18 points. Hits leader Cal Clutterbuck, at plus-1, is the only Wild player with a positive rating.

Injury report -- Burns, the Wild's leader in average ice time, is out indefinitely with a concussion. Kobasew, a former Bruin sent to Minnesota last month, may return after missing four games with an upper-body injury. Martin Havlat missed the Wild's last game with a hamstring injury and is doubtful. Petr Sykora has missed six games with a concussion. Pierre-Marc Bouchard left the season opener with a headache and hasn't played since. Boston's 2009 Vezina Trophy winner, Tim Thomas, who has a sore hand, will dress but likely not play.

Stat pack -- In need of scoring due to injuries, the Wild acquired Kobasew, a 21-goal scorer last season, from Boston on Oct. 18 for left winger Craig Weller, a second-round pick in 2011 and the rights to Alexander Fallstrom, a Swedish right wing who the Wild took with the 114th pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. Fallstrom, who played at Shattuck-St. Mary's, is in his first year at Harvard. Weller is in the minors and Kobasew has 1 goal and 3 assists in 11 games and is minus-2.

Puck drop -- " What you see tonight is what you get every night," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bergeron. "He just works extremely hard. Some nights will go better than others. But he's been reliable. Best faceoff man. We use him in all situations. Late in games. Power plays. PKs. He's been doing it all. He's been a big part of our success this year because of the way he's handled himself."

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