Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 3:41 PM
Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer
BRUINS (42-27-3) at SHARKS (36-27-10)
TV: NESN (HD), CSN-CA (HD)
Last 10: Boston 4-6-0; San Jose 3-4-3
Season Series: Thursday marks the second and final meeting of the campaign between the Bruins and Sharks. In their previous clash, Oct. 22 at TD Garden, Massachusetts native Benn Ferriero scored the tie-breaking goal in the third period, lifting San Jose to an eventual 4-2 win over Boston.
Big Story: The Sharks look to redeem themselves Thursday on home ice after dropping consecutive divisional games to fall out of the top eight in the Western Conference. San Jose was outscored 10-5 in losses at home to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday and on the road to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. The Bruins, meanwhile, embark on a three-game West Coast swing looking to extend their lead in the Northeast Division, which stands at three points with two games in hand over the Ottawa Senators entering Wednesday's action.
Bruins: Simply put, everything went right for Boston in its 8-0 romp over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Veteran forward Brian Rolston continued his surprising surge with a four-point night, Tim Thomas earned his fifth shutout of the season and the Bruins continued to play with a purpose since briefly letting the Northeast lead slip away last week.
"You could tell in our game [against Toronto] and also on Saturday afternoon [against Philadelphia] that we really wanted to turn things around, and maybe it was a blessing in disguise that Ottawa did pass us because maybe there was that fire that needed to be re-lit," Milan Lucic told NHL.com.
Sharks: In the ever-changing Western Conference playoff picture, every game is crucial -- and the Sharks have learned that the hard way this week. San Jose earned a resounding overtime win Saturday over the Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion to move back into the eighth spot in the West with a game in hand over the Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames. But two lopsided losses later, the Sharks are on the outside looking in and in dire need of a win Thursday against the defending champion Bruins.
There were certainly positives in their latest defeat in Los Angeles, as Dan Boyle scored a gutsy third-period goal and Martin Havlat churned out his third straight multi-point game, but it wasn't enough as the Sharks were outshot 42-22 by the Kings.
"They were all over us and were in our zone the whole time," Boyle told NHL.com. "[The Kings] just had better jump than we did, or desperation, probably."
Who's Hot: Pouliot has scored at least a point in five of his last six games, totaling 3 goals and 5 assists in that span. … Havlat has sparked the Sharks' offense since returning from injury on March 15, compiling 4 goals and 2 assists in four games.
Injury Report: Nathan Horton (concussion), Rich Peverley (knee) and Tuukka Rask (lower body) remain out of the lineup for the Bruins. ... San Jose forwards Michal Handzus (undisclosed), Tommy Wingels (upper body) and TJ Galiardi (upper body) are all questionable for Thursday's game against Boston.
Stat Pack: The Bruins allowed a mere 13 shots on goal in their rout of the Maple Leafs on Monday, marking the fewest shots allowed by Boston in a game since giving up 13 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 13, 2002.
Puck Drop: "These two games were important games," Bruins forward Chris Kelly said. "You know, obviously going out West is no easy feat. I thought we handled ourselves well against Philly and again [against Toronto], so hopefully it's a stepping stone in the right direction and we can build on those two games."