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Surging Bruins host desperate Capitals

by Corey Masisak

CAPITALS (11-14-1) at BRUINS (18-4-3)


Last 10: Washington 6-4-0; Boston 7-2-1

Season series: Washington won the first meeting of the season in dramatic fashion last week, erasing a 3-0 deficit before Eric Fehr's highlight-reel goal sealed a 4-3 overtime victory.

Big story: The Bruins will try to keep pace with Montreal and Pittsburgh for the top spot in the East while the Capitals need to keep winning just to stay on the fringes of the playoff chase.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Just as they were in the game against Boston, the Capitals were down early to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night but rallied for a much-needed 3-2 win. Actually catching the Hurricanes -- Washington is 10 points back with 22 games to play -- is almost out of the question.

The Capitals are seven points shy of Winnipeg for eighth place in the East but have a game in hand. They also have two games against the Jets in as many nights next week, but they need to stay within striking distance between now and then and have road games at Boston and Pittsburgh with a home tilt against Buffalo in between.

Washington did get Tom Poti back against Carolina, but the defense remains wrecked with injuries. Steve Oleksy, who was a healthy scratch earlier this season in the American Hockey League, skated nearly 28 minutes Thursday night against the Hurricanes.

Bruins: Boston looks a lot like the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011, which isn't good news for everyone else in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are ninth in the League in goals per game and third in goals against. They are one of the top teams in the NHL at even strength, and they dominate possession thanks in part to a huge lead in faceoffs -- at 57.4 percent they are nearly four percent better points than second-place San Jose.

The only issue of late has been blown third-period leads. Boston is 10-2-1 in its past 13 games, and led all three of the losses in the final period. Besides the loss to Washington, the Bruins led Pittsburgh 2-0 before a three-goal flurry. They led Montreal 3-2 before a pair of goals.

Who's hot: Mike Ribeiro and Nicklas Backstrom have seven points each in the past seven games for the Capitals. … Tyler Seguin has four goals in the past six games for the Bruins.

Injury report: Washington is likely to be without defensemen Mike Green (groin), John Erskine (upper body), Tomas Kundratek (lower body) and Jack Hillen (upper body) against the Bruins. Versatile forward Brooks Laich (groin) is also still out. … Boston will be without forwards Chris Kelly (broken leg) and Jordan Caron (upper body), and defenseman Adam McQuaid (upper body) is in doubt.

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