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Flyers-Bruins Preview @NHLdotcom

For the teams currently holding the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, neither the Boston Bruins nor the Philadelphia Flyers have played like they're trying to slam the door on the competition.

One of them will earn two valuable points when the teams face off Saturday in Boston, where the Flyers have won four of their last five games.

Philadelphia (35-27-9) has lost two in a row and four of six, and is just 5-10-4 in its last 19 games, a stretch that includes a 10-game losing streak.

The Bruins (36-27-8), meanwhile, have dropped three in a row and six of seven as their lead over the eighth-place Flyers has slimmed to one point. Four other teams are within five points of Philadelphia and six points of Boston.

"We're just making this group more crowded all the time," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "It's time for us to start taking care of ourselves."

Stevens' team is coming off consecutive losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers at least earned a point when they blew a 3-0 third-period lead and lost 4-3 in overtime at Toronto on Tuesday, but they came up empty the next night at home, getting outshot 31-20 and losing 3-2.

Forward Joffrey Lupul returned Wednesday after missing 12 games with a sprained ankle, and the Flyers could get another boost as Mike Richards is expected to play Saturday after missing nine games with a torn hamstring.

Richards leads the Flyers with 66 points, while Lupul has 39 points in 45 games this season.

"Right now it's feeling good, so I don't see a problem with it," Richards told the Flyers' official Web site. "It's a huge weekend for the team."

After leaving Boston, the Flyers play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The Bruins may still be without their injured leader, as captain Zdeno Chara has missed the last three games with an undisclosed upper torso injury. Boston has lost all three games, scoring a total of two goals as the offense continues to struggle.

The Bruins have just six goals in their last six games, and haven't scored more than two in any of their last eight. During that stretch, they are 3-for-35 (8.6 percent) on the power play while their opponents have gone 12-for-30 (40 percent).

"It's down to crunch time, and we can't let this go on too much longer," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "When you don't score goals, every little mistake you make looks a lot bigger than it should be. ... You've got to find a way to score goals. It's as simple as that."

Only a third-period goal by Chuck Kobasew prevented Boston from being shutout for the third time in seven games on Tuesday in a 3-1 defeat to Tampa Bay. The Bruins have averaged 31.6 shots in their last eight games, with a scoring percentage under 4 percent.

Opponents had converted more than a quarter of their shots in Bruins goalie Tim Thomas' last two starts, but he stopped 23 of 25 shots against the Lightning in his first appearance in a week. Thomas hadn't played since allowing 12 total goals and getting pulled three times in consecutive starts earlier this month.

The Bruins have won two straight against the Flyers, but Philadelphia won its only game in Boston this season and has earned at least a point in 10 of its last 11 visits.

The Flyers won 2-1 at Boston on Oct. 27, when Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron suffered a severe concussion on a hit by Philadelphia's Randy Jones. Bergeron hasn't played since.

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