Bruins host Blues in showdown between top teams

11:44 AM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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( - The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins will open a three-game homestand against one of the best teams from the West, as they welcome the St. Louis Blues for Thursday's showdown at TD Garden.

The Bruins are pacing the East with 29 points, a total that would rank them ninth in the Western Conference where the Blues are in a four-way tie for third with 31 points.

Boston, which is holding a one-point lead over Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division, has been scorching hot of late, winning six of their last seven games. Prior to the recent hot streak, the Bruins had lost four of five games during a 1-3-1 stretch from late October to early November.

The Bruins recently wrapped a three-game road trip 2-1-0 by taking the final two tilts of the swing in Carolina and New York.

After recording a 4-1 win Monday at Carolina, the Bruins earned a 2-1 regulation victory the following night against the New York Rangers. Tuukka Rask stopped 43 shots to frustrate the Rangers, while Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton each scored to help the Bruins pick up two points at Madison Square Garden.

"We had a tough stretch before these wins and we said that we wanted to do better in our own zone," said Rask. "We've kept it pretty simple and it's paid off."

Boston is set to play three straight on home ice, where it has compiled an 8-3-1 record this season. The B's will host a rematch against Carolina on Saturday before completing the stay at TD Garden with Monday's matchup against Pittsburgh.

The Bruins could be without Dennis Seidenberg tonight after the defenseman suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday's win over the Rangers. Fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid also has missed the last five games with a strained right hip and he's expected to sit out another tilt on Thursday.

St. Louis has won three of its past four games and is coming off a 4-1 win in Buffalo on Tuesday. The Blues allowed the Sabres to score just 10 seconds into the game, but used a pair of goals from Brenden Morrow and 23 saves from Jaroslav Halak to eventually defeat Buffalo.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Magnus Paajarvi also scored and Chris Stewart added a pair of assists for the Blues, winners in six of their last eight games.

"They scored a quick one there, 10 seconds in and it kind of caught us by surprise," Stewart said. "We answered back quick there and set the tempo for the game."

The Blues got back on track Tuesday after beginning a three-game road trip with a 4-1 setback Sunday in Washington. All told, St. Louis is 5-2-1 as the visiting team this season.

Halak expects to get the start again tonight and is 6-3-0 with a 1.86 goals against average in nine career outings against Boston.

Boston has earned at least a point against the Blues in five straight meetings, going 3-0-2 during that stretch. However, St. Louis has claimed five consecutive encounters in Boston and hasn't lost in Beantown since a 5-1 setback on Jan. 30, 2001.

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