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Pens, Bruins set to finish season series

by Brian Compton
PENGUINS (41-24-5) at BRUINS (31-26-12)

Last 10: Pittsburgh 5-2-3; Boston 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Pittsburgh has defeated Boston twice, including a 2-1 victory at Mellon Arena on March 7. Evgeni Malkin had the game-winner 1:27 into the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves.

Big Story: The Penguins' inability to beat the New Jersey Devils has them in a dogfight for the Atlantic Division crown. The defending Stanley Cup champs suffered a 5-2 defeat at the Prudential Center on Wednesday night and were swept in their season series with the Devils. The teams now have 87 points apiece and New Jersey has a game in hand.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Despite being handled rather easily by the Devils this season, the defending champions remain confident that they can dispose of New Jersey should the teams collide in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Playoffs is a whole different season," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said after his team fell to the Devils again, 5-2, Wednesday night. "Intensity is higher, the game is faster and everything is bigger and more important. When you play each other in the playoffs, the past doesn't really matter. The team that is going to execute the best is going to win. This (0-6 record vs. New Jersey) isn't something we're going to think about in the playoffs. It's behind us and we have to be better for going through this."

Bruins: Boston increased its lead in the playoff race to three points on Tuesday night with its 5-2 win at Carolina. The Bruins entered the evening just one point ahead of the New York Rangers for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, but the Blueshirts lost at home to Montreal.

"We needed a huge win tonight, I think we all knew that," said Bruins forward Mark Recchi, who was one of four Bruins players to have a goal and an assist against the Hurricanes. "We stayed with it; we played the right way. We were a desperate hockey club tonight. We do that for 13 more games, we'll control our own destiny and get in the playoffs."

Who's Hot: Pascal Dupuis has four goals in eight games for the Pens since the Olympic break. … Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron has four goals and four assists in his last seven games, while David Krejci has a four-game points streak (2 goals, 4 assists).

Injury Report: Penguins forward Eric Godard (groin) is out. … Bruins center Marc Savard is likely done for the season due to a concussion suffered on March 7 against Pittsburgh. Andrew Ference (groin) is hoping to be back by Sunday.

Stat Pack: Pittsburgh was outscored by New Jersey 22-5 despite outshooting the Devils 187-165. … Recchi, 42, scored the 560th goal of his career at Carolina, tying him with Guy Lafleur for 22nd place on the League's all-time list.

Puck Drop: "They had 12 shots on net and five were clear breakaways. That's leaving your goalie out to dry." -- Pens coach Dan Bylsma after Wednesday's loss at New Jersey
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