By Alan Ferguson
Boston (47-17-10) at Philadelphia (41-23-10), 7 p.m. EDT
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Without their leading goal scorer, the
Boston Bruins picked up another key win in their drive for the
top seed in the Eastern Conference.
In the arguably one of the toughest matchups remaining, the
Bruins will look to maintain their newly regained consistency
and try for a fourth straight road win over the Philadelphia
Flyers on Sunday night.
Phil Kessel, who has a team-best 31 goals, is expected to miss a
second consecutive game with an undisclosed injury, but his
teammates responded in his absence Saturday night with a 7-5 win
in Toronto. Boston took command with four straight goals to end
the second period, snapping a season high five-game road losing
streak, and six different Bruins scored with former Flyer Mark
Recchi tallying a pair.
Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick each had three assists and were
among 12 players to register at least a point.
After winning five of six coming out of the All-Star break,
Boston went 6-9-4 and allowed New Jersey and Washington to gain
ground in the East standings.
Thanks to consecutive victories, the Bruins (48-17-10) have
pushed five points ahead of the Capitals and are six in front of
New Jersey with eight games remaining in their attempt to grab
the conference's top playoff seed for the first time since
Boston's schedule appears advantageous with only three remaining
opponents currently in playoff contention - the Flyers, New York
Rangers and Montreal. In addition to their three straight wins
in Philadelphia, the Bruins are 6-1-1 there since Feb. 19, 2004,
but have dropped their last two overall meetings with the
With his team holding a more comfortable lead in the conference,
Bruins coach Claude Julien is focused on preparing his team for
the postseason. Boston, which will make its second straight
appearance after winning its first Northeast Division title
since 2003-04, hasn't advanced past the first round in 10 years
and lost in seven games to Montreal last season.
"Just because we're in a playoff spot doesn't mean that
everything's OK. Our play in the last month and a half hasn't
been up to par. We need to get better in our game," Julien said.
"It's about fine-tuning ourselves and getting some momentum
heading into the playoffs."
The Flyers come into Sunday's game looking to maintain their own
spot in the East's playoff race, sitting fourth with 92 points.
In winning four of its last five, Philadelphia (41-23-10) has
moved one point ahead of red-hot Carolina in the battle for
home-ice advantage but is only six in front of Montreal in
The Flyers, who are also six points back of New Jersey in the
Atlantic Division, rallied for a 4-3 shootout victory Saturday
night against the New York Islanders. Trailing by two entering
the third period, Philadelphia scored three straight goals but
allowed the Islanders to tie it at 3-all before prevailing in
"We had to battle back and find ways to play better," said Mike
Richards, who clinched the shootout win. "It's nice that we can
come back and win in that situation."
Scott Hartnell extended his point streak to four games with a
goal and an assist, giving him seven goals and 13 points in his
last 10. Jeff Carter is on a six-game streak with three goals
and four assists in that time.