NHL on NBCSN: Fighting for playoffs spot, Bruins hope third time’s the charm vs. Caps

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight with a doubleheader. The first of the two contests will feature the Washington Capitals hosting the Boston Bruins, with the puck scheduled to drop at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Boston has won five straight games to keep itself in the playoff race, but with the Ottawa Senators’ surge continuing, it hasn’t been enough to secure a postseason berth for the Bruins.

A loss against the Washington Capitals tonight won’t push the Bruins out of the playoff picture, but it would make the margin of error for Boston significantly smaller in its final two contests against Florida and Tampa Bay. Maintaining the winning streak will be tough for the Bruins against the similarly hot Capitals, but Boston at least caught a bit of a break during Tuesday’s practice.

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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was back on the ice after being held off on Monday. He had been labeled as day-to-day, but Bruins coach Claude Julien now seems optimistic about Chara’s chances of being available for tonight’s game.

That would certainly be a boost, although it might not be enough. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has already earned two shutouts against Boston this season. Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom has also been a thorn in the Bruins’ side with four points over those two games.

“We’re not here certainly feeling overconfident,” said Julien, per the team’s website. “Because we still haven’t scored on them yet in two games, so we need to be better there tomorrow and find a way to get past their goaltender.”

Perhaps Ryan Spooner will ultimately be the one to solve Washington. Since being called up on Feb. 21, Spooner has been a key forward for Boston with eight goals and 18 points in 21 games. If not for his efforts, Boston might not be in a playoff position going into today’s action.

“We talk about bringing some young legs in, we talk about speed, we talk about skill — (Spooner’s) been able to bring that,” Julien said. “When he was here the first few times, he just brought portions of that. Now, he’s brought it all, and it’s made a big difference in his game. It’s made a big difference in our game.”

Washington has already secured a postseason berth, but the Capitals still need these two points. As things currently stand, it looks like they’ll be in for a tough battle against the New York Islanders in the first round. What remains to be seen is which team will have the home-ice advantage in that series and a win tonight would certainly help Washington as it tries to clinch the second seed in the Metropolitan Division.

The Horton treatment? Bruins may shop Savard’s contract this summer

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When the Toronto Maple Leafs essentially acquired the right to put Nathan Horton’s cap hit on LTIR, a few people thought of other just-about-retired players who might get the same treatment. It sounds like the Boston Bruins may just pitch such an idea regarding Marc Savard’s deal.

HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman dropped that mention in passing toward the end of this Headlines segment.

For those wondering what a potential trade partner would get out of a potential trade, considering this:

Savard’s cap hit is a little more than $4 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17, yet that loophole-friendly deal only carries a $525K salary. That could be a great way for a low-budget team to get to the cap floor and could also give another franchise some extra space.

In case you’re wondering, Chris Pronger basically has the same situation going on, only his cap hit is about $4.9 million.

Bruins sign Cave to an entry-level contract

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The Boston Bruins have reportedly signed free-agent forward Colby Cave to a three-year entry-level contract.

Cave’s fourth season in the Western Hockey League came to an end Wednesday when the Swift Current Broncos were swept in the first round of the playoffs.

The 6-foot-1, 198-pound center had 35 goals and 75 points in 72 regular season games with the Broncos.

The undrafted 20-year-old attended NHL camps with both the San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes previously.

Bruins score three unanswered, squeak past Wings in vital victory

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The Boston Bruins went into Thursday’s contest riding a three-game winning streak, but they couldn’t afford to slow down with the Ottawa Senators breathing down their neck. Although Detroit made them sweat, the Bruins were able to keep their streak alive with tonight’s 3-2 victory.

Detroit outshot Boston 14-7 in the first period and 26-15, but Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask stood tall by allowing just one marker over that span. Although Stephen Weiss netted a power-play goal early in the third frame to put Detroit up 2-0, Boston responded with three unanswered goals, with the deciding one doubling as 24-year-old defenseman Zach Trotman’s first career goal:

The Red Wings have lost three straight games and are on a 4-9-2 slump. The Bruins have now caught up with them in terms of points (93), although Detroit has played in one less game so it still has possession of the Atlantic Division third seed. Although it seemed implausible given Detroit’s 36-15-11 record just a month ago, the Red Wings’ hold on a playoff spot now looks vulnerable.

They will try to stop the bleeding on Saturday against the red hot Minnesota Wild.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Red Wings

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The Detroit Red Wings will almost certainly make the playoffs, but they’re limping to the finish line. The squad has posted a 4-8-2 record starting with their loss to Calgary on March 6. They’ve gone from being a contender for the Atlantic Division title to a team that might slip out of the top three entirely. The Bruins can’t surpass the Red Wings tonight because Detroit would still control the tiebreaker (games played), but Boston can match them in points with a victory in regulation time.

That would be an added bonus, but the Bruins’ primary motivation has to be staying ahead of the Ottawa Senators. They have a three-point edge on Ottawa going into tonight’s action, but Ottawa has played in one less game, so a Bruins loss tonight would provide the Senators with a significant opportunity.

The Bruins-Red Wings game will start at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be watched on NBCSN. Alternatively, you can stream it using NBCSports.com’s Live Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some relevant links:

Advantage B’s? No Datsyuk, Cole or Jurco for Wings tonight (and maybe no Sheahan, either)

NHL on NBCSN: Big playoff implications for Red Wings, Bruins

PHT Morning Skate: Guess which Celtic revealed that Dougie Hamilton has broken ribs?

‘My first reaction was, oh my God, my eye is gone,’ says Detroit’s Miller