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Wednesday Night Rivalry

Kessel, Marchand powering Penguins, Bruins

Pittsburgh, Boston play rivalry game with postseason in sight

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins have climbed out of early-season holes and put themselves in position to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One team will move two points closer to the postseason by winning the Wednesday Night Rivalry game at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports).

The Penguins and Bruins haven't played since the week before Christmas, when the Bruins swept a home-and-home series by a combined score of 9-2.

Boston has won four straight and is 6-0-1 in its past seven games against Pittsburgh. The last time Pittsburgh defeated Boston in regulation was Oct. 30, 2013.

As the Penguins and Bruins push toward the playoffs, here are four players helping their teams make the climb:

Phil Kessel, RW, Penguins -- Much was expected from Kessel when the Penguins acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1. He's had his ups and downs this season but he's found his scoring touch during the past couple of weeks. Kessel has four goals in his past five games, including two against the Detroit Red Wings last Thursday and another in the Penguins' 4-3 win at the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Penguins -- The only thing that's been able to slow Fleury recently is his health; he had to miss the Penguins' game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday because of an illness. He's been terrific when healthy, going 3-0-1 in his past four starts and allowing eight goals during that span. Fleury is six victories from the eighth 30-win season of his NHL career and third in a row.

Brad Marchand, LW, Bruins -- Boston has 21 games remaining after this one, but Marchand already has set an NHL career high in goals with 30, including two in a 7-3 win at the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Marchand is dangerous in all situations. He has six power-play goals, four shorthanded goals and five game-winners, and he leads the Bruins with a plus-16 rating. He's gone from being an agitator who can score some goals to a scorer who also knows how to be a pest.

Loui Eriksson, RW, Bruins -- Eriksson's third season with the Bruins by far has been his best. His 23 goals in 60 games are one more than he scored in 81 games last season. He has seven goals in his past seven games, including two against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. Eriksson is second on the Bruins with eight power-play goals and tied with Marchand for the lead with five game-winners. 

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