BRUINS (48-17-5) at COYOTES (34-25-11)
Season series: The Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes are playing for the second time in nine days. The Bruins held off a third-period push by the Coyotes in a 2-1 victory at TD Garden on March 13.
Big story: The Coyotes, who own the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, can give their playoff hopes a major boost by snapping the Bruins' 11-game winning streak.
Coyotes: Phoenix has a winning streak of its own, though a three-game run pales in comparison to Boston's. But it's been enough to move the Coyotes back into the final playoff spot in the West; they begin the day four points ahead of the Dallas Stars.
But after having to hold on for a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday, the Coyotes know they're stepping up in class as they try to cool off the NHL's hottest team.
"There's a lot on the line no matter who we play," goaltender Mike Smith said. "It doesn't matter if we just played Florida or we've got Boston coming in. With the position we're in, we don't have time to think about stuff like that.
Smith is expected to make his 11th consecutive start, on his 32nd birthday no less.
"I like to play a lot, especially when you're playing good. You want to be helping the team win games. It's just in our blood, I guess. Once you get into the season, 60 starts is just a number. The body is feeling good now and hopefully I keep feeling well," he said.
"Last time we played them, we had four or five point-blank chances and (Tuukka) Rask makes the save," said Morris, who will appear in his 1,100th game Saturday. "If we get chances like that, we've got to find ways to score them and the way to get one by him is a screen or a rebound."
Defenseman Keith Yandle, a native of Boston, will face the Bruins for the seventh time in his career. He has totaled one goal and two assists in the first six games. Yandle leads all NHL defensemen with 14 points in 14 games since Feb. 7 and is one point away from reaching the 50-point mark for the seconnd time in his career (59 in 2010-11).
Defenseman Derek Morris is expected to play in the 1,100th of his NHL career. Morris will become the seventh active defensemen to have played in 1,100 games. He currently ranks seventh among active blueliners in games played (1,099) and ninth in points (424). He has played 536 games for the Coyotes.
Bruins: They know they'll be in the playoffs, but the Bruins have no intention of taking their foot off the gas in the final three weeks of the season.
"We still have to play our hockey, really focusing on the little details going into the playoffs, and not getting satisfied and complacent," captain Zdeno Chara said. "We just still have to push our team to the best, maximum results."
Boston got a superb 31-save performance by backup goaltender Chad Johnson and goals by Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg to beat the Avalanche on Friday. Johnson, who figures to watch Tuukka Rask play against the Coyotes, is 10-0-1 in his past 11 decisions.
The Bruins have outscored opponents 43-15, allowed two goals or fewer nine times and killed 29 of 31 power-play opportunities during their 11-game win streak.
Who's hot: Smith has allowed just six goals during the three-game winning streak and is 7-2-0 while starting the Coyotes' past nine games... Forward Jarome Iginla didn't score Friday but has six goals in his past five games. Bergeron has goals in back-to-back games.
Injury report: The Coyotes are without defenseman David Schlemko (lower body)... Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk (foot) took warmups before the game in Denver but didn't play. Another defenseman, Adam McQuaid, has missed two months with a leg injury.
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