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Division-leading Bruins, Wings play home-and-home

by Adam Kimelman
RED WINGS (32-16-6) at BRUINS (31-16-7)

TV -- NHLN-US (HD), FS-D+ (HD), NESN (HD)   

Last 10 --
Detroit 5-5-0; Boston 7-3-0

Season series --
This is the first of a weekend home-and-home set that continues Sunday in Detroit. The teams haven't played since Nov. 3, 2009, when Chris Osgood made 29 saves in a 2-0 Red Wings victory in Detroit. They haven't played in Boston since Nov. 29, 2008, when David Krejci had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 Bruins victory.

Big story -- Are the big, bad Bruins back? They've scrapped their way -- literally and figuratively -- to victories in two of their last three games, in the process increasing their Northeast Division lead to four points heading into the weekend. The Red Wings won't go toe-to-toe with their fists against the Bruins, but they'll certainly be in a sour mood having lost three of their last four games.

Team Scope:

Red Wings -- After Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators -- their third straight loss and second in a week to their closest Central Division rivals -- players reportedly used the words "embarrassing" and "unacceptable" to describe the game. About the only thing that made coach Mike Babcock happy Wednesday was hearing his players describe how they played.

"I'm glad they agree with me," Babcock told reporters following the game. "It's absolutely unacceptable to compete like we did. You're not going to be successful in anything in any walk of life working that hard. It's beyond ridiculous. Obviously, we've got tons of work to do. I thought we were coming out of what we were in, but we're not."

The loss narrowed the Wings' division lead to five points.

Bruins -- With the rival Canadiens coming into TD Garden and sole possession of the Northeast Division lead at stake, the Bruins were ready for a hard-fought, emotional game.

Eight goals, six fights and 92 penalty minutes later, they skated away with an 8-6 victory.

"As players, we all had fun in tonight's game," Milan Lucic, who had 2 goals and an assist, told the Boston Globe. "I think the fans definitely had a lot of fun watching tonight's game. We were able to play with a lot of emotion. We were able to keep our heads on straight to get that win. That's the most important thing."

The win put the Bruins four points ahead of the Canadiens and just two points behind Tampa Bay for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Who's hot -- Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has 4 goals and 5 assists in his last seven games. … With just one win in their last four games, including a pair of shutout losses, it's hard to quantify anyone on the Wings as hot, but Danny Cleary has points in two straight games, the first time he's done that since Dec. 10-11.

Injury report --
Outside of the season-ending concussion suffered by Marc Savard, the Bruins are fully healthy. … The Red Wings will be without forward Valtteri Filppula, who has a sprained ligament in his left knee.

Stat pack -- In the Bruins' last two wins, against Dallas and Montreal, they combined for 10 fights and 143 penalty minutes. In their most recent loss, Saturday against San Jose, they had just nine penalty minutes and one fight.

Puck drop -- Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said he did have a plan when he skated the length of the ice to engage the Canadiens' Carey Price during Wednesday's game. If you watched the video of the fight, however, you'd know Thomas' plan didn't quite work out as well as he thought.

"I was going to grab his right, then I was going to throw lefts, because I know he's bigger and taller than me and has the reach on me," he told the Boston Globe. "I thought I could do a better job of throwing lefts than him. When we went to grab, he got a good hold of my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, 'Now what do I do?' He's got a big right cocked and ready to come."

That's when Thomas had a flash to Rick DiPietro, who suffered facial fractures in a fight with Pittsburgh's Brent Johnson last week.

"He had a good grip on my arm and was free to do it with the big right," Thomas said. "The thought crossed my mind that I don’t want to be DiPietro."

Thomas and Price ended up wrestling around for a few moments before Thomas ended up on his back and Price never threw that big right hand.

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