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Bruins host reeling Blackhawks, seek ninth straight win

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Boston Bruins have been playing with fire of late, as they ride an eight-game winning streak into a home matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

The Bruins extended their run -- and a 12-game points streak (9-0-3) overall -- with a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday in which both goals came during the final five minutes of regulation. Boston has scored nine of its 10 goals in its last four games in the third period or later, the only outlier coming with 1:32 left in the second period of an overtime win over the New York Rangers last Friday.

"We know how to play when the game is on the line," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We're still focusing on our start.

"... No team is going to have it together for 60 minutes every night, we've talked about that. We're building like everyone else."

The Blackhawks certainly have more to build on than most -- the team has lost six of its last seven (1-5-1) to fall to the cellar of the Central Division. Chicago is coming off a 4-0 shutout at the hands of the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

In that game, the Blackhawks played a man short due to injuries and their current salary cap situation. Without room under the cap to maneuver, Chicago played 11 forwards and six defensemen.

"It is what it is. We got down on the score pretty early in the game. Sometimes you shorten your bench in those situations anyway," captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's something we're used to. It shouldn't be that big of a deal."

Andrew Shaw (concussion) being scratched necessitated the unique circumstance, as he joined fellow forwards Dylan Strome (concussion) and Drake Caggiula (concussion), defenseman Duncan Keith (groin) and goaltender Robin Lehner (illness) in being unable to play. Strome, Caggiula and Lehner's availability will be evaluated prior to Thursday's game, while defenseman Olli Maatta is expected to play after missing practice Wednesday due to flu-like symptoms.

With Lehner nearing return, Chicago re-assigned goaltender Kevin Lankinen to American Hockey League affiliate Rockford and recalled defenseman Dennis Gilbert.

The Bruins could benefit from the return of one of their defensemen Thursday after John Moore practiced Wednesday and is nearing his season debut. Moore has been sidelined since shoulder surgery in June.

"[Thursday] morning we'll make those decisions, who's going to go in," Cassidy said. "We want to make sure he (Moore) got through a good practice today, a little more contact. If he's ready to go, then we'll have to make a decision whether he goes in or not."

Forward Brett Ritchie is also nearing his return from an elbow infection, while top-line center Patrice Bergeron (lower body) won't be available Thursday but is "getting closer," according to Cassidy.

With Bergeron out, David Krejci has performed well on the top line with six points (two goals, four assists) in his past five games.

The Bruins have won four of their past five meetings with the Blackhawks.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 5, 2019

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