Bruins hope to aid Presidents' Trophy cause in Winnipeg
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Bruins will try to move closer to just the second Presidents' Trophy in franchise history on Thursday night as they take on the Winnipeg Jets.
The Bruins lead the NHL with 114 points, two ahead of the idle Anaheim Ducks with a game in hand. Boston has already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and has not finished a season as the top points earner since 1989-90, when it lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals.
With nothing to play for down the stretch, the Bruins have lost three of their last four games, but they are 1-1-2 in that stretch and have earned a point in 19 of their previous 20 games (16-1-3).
Boston is coming off Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild, yielding the game-tying goal with 1:05 left in regulation before getting shut out in the tiebreaker.
Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron lit the lamp for the Bruins, while Tuukka Rask made 21 saves.
"I felt we were a little sloppy tonight. We weren't very sharp in our passing and our playmaking," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said.
Both forward Jarome Iginla and defenseman Kevan Miller missed a second straight game, while David Krejci, who leads the NHL with a plus-39 rating, was scratched from the game for rest.
Both Iginla and Miller practiced on Wednesday and could be game-time decisions.
The Bruins will host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday before ending the regular season at the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Rask figures to get some rest over that time, but could start tonight and is 8-4-0 lifetime versus the Jets with a 1.98 goals against average and two shutouts.
Winnipeg comes in having lost four of its last six games and will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season.
The Jets are also banged up as both Andrew Ladd (undisclosed) and Dustin Byfuglien (upper body) will miss the club's final two games of the regular season, while goaltender Al Montoya and defensemen Zach Bogosian and Keaton Ellerby are questionable due to injury.
Though Winnipeg lost a 1-0 decision to Minnesota on Monday, it marked a solid NHL debut for Michael Hutchinson as he posted 16 saves.
The 24-year-old Hutchinson, a third-round pick by Boston in 2008, began the season in the ECHL before putting up solid numbers with the St. John's IceCaps of the AHL.
"Everyone hopes to play a game in the NHL every season but realistically I didn't think it'd be possible," admitted Hutchinson. "I'm very fortunate to have been in some good situations and I was able to play well this year and I was just happy to get a shot."
Winnipeg ends its regular season on Friday at the Calgary Flames and Hutchinson may get another start tonight.
The Jets have lost three of four and six of their last nine versus the Bruins, including a 4-1 setback in Boston on Jan. 4. Torey Krug scored twice and had an assist for Boston, while Rask posted 36 saves.
Byfuglien had the lone Winnipeg goal and Ondrej Pavelec made 25 saves in defeat.
The Bruins have lost five of their last six road meetings with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise.
04/10 11:20:36 ET