The hottest team in the NHL goes for its 11th straight victory Friday, and possibly a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To get it, the Boston Bruins will have to beat one of the best in the NHL.
The Bruins bring a 10-game winning streak into their game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. It's the first of a back-to-back set for Boston, which had a couple of days off after a 4-2 road win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
Boston also has a chance to be the first team to clinch a playoff spot Friday. They can do so if they beat the Avalanche in any form, or if they get one point against the Avalanche and the New York Rangers lose in regulation to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Bruins have outscored their opponents 41-15 during their win streak and have won seven of the 10 games by three or more goals. They lead the Eastern Conference with 99 points.
Colorado is home after going 1-1-1 on a three-game swing through Canada that ended with a 5-4 overtime loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. The Avalanche have 94 points, putting them seventh in the overall standings but third in the Central Division behind the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.
Here's a look at all of the action Friday:
New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets -- Rick Nash, the face of the Blue Jackets franchise for a decade before being traded to the Rangers in the summer of 2012, makes his first appearance as a visiting player at Nationwide Arena. Nash had two goals Tuesday in an 8-4 road win against the Ottawa Senators that moved the Rangers into third place in the Metropolitan Division, but Ryan Johansen's third-period goal Thursday gave the Blue Jackets a 3-2 road victory against the Montreal Canadiens and jumped them back in front of the Rangers. Each team has 78 points; the Blue Jackets are in front because they've played one fewer game.
Carolina Hurricanes at Chicago Blackhawks -- The Hurricanes enter this game on the fringes of the Stanley Cup Playoff race. They kept their hopes alive Tuesday with a 3-1 win at Columbus, a victory largely due to a 46-save performance by goaltender Anton Khudobin, but are nine points out of a playoff position. Chicago looked every bit like the defending Stanley Cup champion in its most recent game, a 4-0 victory against the League-leading Blues on Wednesday. But that win came with a big cost: Leading scorer Patrick Kane left in the second period with a lower-body injury and is out for at least three weeks. Joining the roster, however, is highly touted rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen.
Boston Bruins at Colorado Avalanche -- Denver usually is a tough place for visiting teams, but the Bruins have won their past two games at Pepsi Center and four of the past five. However, the Avalanche won the only meeting between the teams this season, a 2-0 victory Oct. 10. Boston hasn't lost since being beaten 4-2 by the Washington Capitals at home on March 1; the Bruins haven't lost in regulation on the road since Jan. 8, when the Los Angeles Kings beat them. The stakes are high for Colorado, which enters the night one point behind Chicago for second place in the Central Division: Eight of the Avalanche's final 12 games are on the road.
Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames -- Each team is expected to unveil a player it hopes will be a part of its future when they meet at Scotiabank Saddledome. Nashville, which has lost the first two legs of a four-game trip, has called up forward Calle Jarnkrok, who came in the trade that sent David Legwand to the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Trade Deadline. He's expected to make his NHL debut. Calgary, which is coming off a 3-1 home win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, is expected to dress forward Kenny Agostino, who signed his entry-level deal this week. Agostino was part of the return the Flames received last March in the trade that sent Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins.