BRUINS (39-25-13) at RED WINGS (40-23-13)
TV: NBCSN, TVA, SN360, NESN, FS-D
DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings (40-23-13) will again be without key forwards Thursday when they play the Boston Bruins (39-25-13) at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN360, NESN, FS-D).
Center Pavel Datsyuk will miss his second game in a row and seventh in the past nine with a lower-body injury; wing Erik Cole will miss his fifth game with an upper-body injury; wing Tomas Jurco will be out with an upper-body injury; and center Riley Sheahan, who has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury, will be a game-time decision.
But wing Drew Miller, who had to get around 60 stitches Tuesday to close two lacerations around his right eye when a skate blade cut him in the face early in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, is expected to play.
Forward Joakim Andersson didn't skate on Thursday because he was with his girlfriend who was giving birth, but is expected to play.
If Sheahan can't play, Detroit will either go with seven defensemen or recall a forward from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.
Datsyuk said he feels better and he hoped to return against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
"I feel much better. It's not ready to go tonight," Datsyuk said. "It's kind of old injury. I'm looking forward to playing in Minnesota and we start from this (game)."
The Red Wings, third in the Atlantic Division, are two points ahead of the Bruins, who are the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of Ottawa.
"It's not the position you like to be in this time of year," Boston coach Claude Julien said.
The Bruins aren't focusing on the fact they could tie the Red Wings for third in the division and put themselves in a better playoff position.
"We've got five games left and this is just another game," Bruins forward David Krejci said.
Julien said defenseman Torey Krug isn't feeling well but is probable.
It could also be the Boston debut of right wing Brett Connolly, who sustained a broken finger in his second practice with the Bruins after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. Connolly will be a game-time decision.
"I'm just going to prepare like I'm playing and see tonight," Connolly said. "It looked good today.
"When you come to a new team, you want to be comfortable and playing. It's not easy to sit out and have to watch. I haven't played with this group. You can watch as many games as you want, but until you get into a game playing with the guys, you don't get a feel for it."
Here are the projected lineups:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic - Ryan Spooner - David Pastrnak
Loui Eriksson - David Krejci - Carl Soderberg
Max Talbot - Gregory Campbell - Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara - Zach Trotman
Torey Krug - Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski - Adam McQuaid
Scratched: Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille
Injured: Marc Savard (concussion), Kevan Miller (shoulder), Dougie Hamilton (undisclosed)
Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Gustav Nyquist
Darren Helm - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Tatar
Daniel Cleary - Stephen Weiss - Teemu Pulkkinen
Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Joakim Andersson
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith - Marek Zidlicky
Scratched: Jakub Kindl
Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Erik Cole (upper body), Tomas Jurco (upper body) Johan Franzen (concussion), Jonas Gustavsson (concussion)
Status report: With the injuries to so many forwards, the Red Wings have to juggle their lines. If Sheahan can't play, Helm will likely move back to his natural center position.
Who's hot: Lucic has three goals and an assist in his past three games.