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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 8th (All times Eastern)
Boston Bruins (53-18-7) at Minnesota Wild (41-26-12), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild hope to lock up their spot in the postseason on Tuesday night as they play host to the NHL-leading Boston Bruins.
The Wild have picked up a victory in four of their last five games and lead the Dallas Stars by seven points for the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. They also are eight points up on the ninth-place Phoenix Coyotes, who have a game in hand on the Wild.
Minnesota can clinch its second straight postseason berth following a four- year absence with a point tonight or a loss by the Phoenix Coyotes to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Wild have won two straight in shutout fashion, with Ilya Bryzgalov in net for both victories. He stopped 20 shots in a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, then followed up with last night's 1-0 blanking of the Winnipeg Jets.
Bryzgalov made 24 saves in his fourth shutout of the campaign and 34th of his career. He is 6-0-3 with a 1.67 goals against average and .929 save percentage since being acquired by the Wild.
"Bryzgalov has been playing great for us, not even just this game," said Charlie Coyle, Minnesota's long goal-scorer on Monday. "He made some pretty big stops and kept us in the game, kept us with the lead. So it's nice to have a guy like that back there who we have confidence in, and I know he has confidence in us. It goes both ways. But he's been playing great for us."
The Wild are kicking off a season-ending three-game homestand and could give Bryzgalov the start again tonight. He is 6-3-3 lifetime versus the Bruins with a 2.49 GAA.
Boston is looking to hold off the St. Louis Blues in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. The Bruins have 113 points on the season, two more than the Blues with four games left for both teams. St. Louis hosts the Washington Capitals tonight.
The Bruins clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference with Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly all scored in the third period as Boston snapped a brief 0-1-1 skid and improved to 16-1-2 in its last 19 games.
Lucic ended with two goals and an assist, while David Krejci had a goal and an assist and Loui Eriksson recorded four assists. Tuukka Rask made 24 saves.
"Once the playoffs start, you can throw all that out the window," said Lucic. "I think right now we're not focused on winning or losing or the Presidents' Trophy. We're just focused on playing the right way. I think in the third period we played the right way and that's what got us the win."
Patrice Bergeron had an assist to extend his point streak to 11 straight games. He has nine goals and six assists over that run.
Forward Jarome Iginla sat out for the second time in three games with a minor lower-body injury. He did not practice on Monday, but did travel to Minnesota with the team.
The Bruins will close the regular season with two straight and three of four on the road.
Rask is 2-1-0 with a 1.30 GAA in his career versus the Wild, making 33 saves in a 4-1 victory in Boston on March 17. Iginla scored twice as Boston snapped a two-game series losing streak.
The Bruins have lost four of their past six in Minnesota.
04/08 10:52:22 ET