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Fresh off stinging loss, Bruins set to battle Devils

by Brian Hunter
BRUINS (34-29-12) at DEVILS (44-26-5)

Last 10: Boston 5-5-0; New Jersey 5-3-2

Season series:
Fourth and final meeting of the regular season. New Jersey will be aiming for the season sweep. The Devils won a pair of 2-1 games in Boston -- Dainius Zubrus scored with 1:26 remaining on Oct. 29 and Jamie Langenbrunner had the decisive goal in the shootout on Nov. 27 -- and David Clarkson contributed a goal and an assist to a 3-2 victory at the Prudential Center on March 15.

Big story: New Jersey trails Pittsburgh by two points in the Atlantic Division and the teams will each have six games remaining after Tuesday. This will be the Devils' third straight game against a team battling for one of the final three Eastern Conference playoff berths -- they won in Montreal on Saturday, but were defeated handily in Philadelphia on Sunday. Boston figures to have an added level of desperation after losing at home to Buffalo on Monday. The Bruins remained just two points ahead of ninth-place Atlanta.

Team Scope:

Bruins: Facing a back-to-back situation, coach Claude Julien elected to start Tim Thomas on Monday. On the one hand, Thomas was coming off his fifth shutout of the season Saturday against Calgary. On the other, he had lost his last four decisions to Buffalo. He ended up being pulled in the second period after giving up three goals on 14 shots. Tuukka Rask stopped all 19 shots he faced in relief, but the Sabres handed the Bruins a painful 3-2 defeat.

"You have to try and change the momentum," Julien said of pulling Thomas. "I don't think I have to try and justify anything. Like I said hindsight is 20-20. You look at Timmy's last game. He was extremely good. We expected that tonight."

Devils: As good as New Jersey looked winning at the Bell Centre before a rabid Hockey Night In Canada crowd, the Devils were equally as bad the following night against the Flyers, a team that has had their number all season. Martin Brodeur was pulled after two periods and Ilya Kovalchuk was the only shooter to dent the armor of Brian Boucher, midway through the third. It mattered little in what ended up a 5-1 loss.

"It always depends on what type of game you had the night before," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We played a skating team in Montreal. The game was fast and then you come up with another team that skates well. Your energy is not where it should be and you don't look as good."

Who's hot: David Krejci has three goals and four assists during a four-game points streak for the Bruins. Zdeno Chara has two goals and three assists during a four-game points streak. Dennis Seidenberg has scored in consecutive games, doubling the defenseman's goal output for the season.

Kovalchuk, named Third Star by the NHL for the past week, has three goals and five assists during a four-game points streak for the Devils. Brian Rolston has a goal and two assists during a three-game points streak. Andy Greene has an assist in three straight games.

Injury report:
Boston forward Marc Savard is suffering from post-concussion symptoms and defenseman Andrew Ference has been battling a groin injury. … New Jersey forward Andrew Peters didn't make the last road trip after his eye was scratched in a fight with New York Rangers forward Jody Shelley in a game Thursday.

Stat pack: The Bruins are probably glad to get away from home, where they are 3-10-3 since New Year's Day. … Rolston's empty-net goal in the Devils' win over the Canadiens was his 700th NHL point. He picked up No. 701 by assisting on Kovalchuk's goal against the Flyers. Rolston had 101 goals and 236 points in 338 games over parts of five seasons with the Bruins from 2000-04.

Puck drop: Boston wasted a valuable game in hand by losing Monday. The Bruins still have played one fewer game than the Thrashers, but are even with the Rangers, who are four points out of eighth and visit the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

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