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Wednesday, April 2nd (All times Eastern)

Boston Bruins (52-17-6) at Detroit Red Wings (35-26-14), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings have managed to stay in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race despite missing some of their top players due to injury.

Head coach Mike Babcock had hoped to get one of those pieces back on Wednesday when the Red Wings continue their quest for a 23rd straight playoff appearance in a home game against the red-hot Boston Bruins, but it was not to be for the tough-luck club.

The Red Wings have battled a slew of injuries this season, including costly ones to top forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. While Zetterberg is still sidelined indefinitely following back surgery, leaving Detroit without its captain, Datsyuk is close to returning from a knee injury that has held him out since Feb. 27.

Datsyuk, who has 33 points in just 39 games this season, skated in his first full practice with the team in over a month on Tuesday, but was ruled out for this game on Wednesday morning.

There is hope he can return to action on Friday, but that is no sure thing.

"Yeah, waiting too long," Datsyuk told Detroit's website. "Would love to play as soon as possible but I need to be careful."

Forward Daniel Alfredsson will also miss tonight's game due to a lower-body injury.

The eventual return of Datsyuk could be a big boost for the Red Wings, who have had an up-and-down March, going 7-6-2 to just keep their heads above water in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Red Wings are coming off consecutive victories and enter Wednesday with 84 points, good enough for the first of two wild card spots in the East. The Columbus Blue Jackets own the second postseason berth with 83 points, while the Toronto Maple Leafs are one point off the pace.

The Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils also are both within four points of the Red Wings.

Detroit halted a three-game slide with Saturday's big win in Toronto and then began a three-game homestand with another regulation victory Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula handed Tampa a 1-0 lead in Sunday's tilt, but Detroit scored the game's next three goals and used a solid performance from backup netminder Jonas Gustavsson to hold on for the 3-2 win.

Gustavsson stopped 26 shots to help the Wings win for the fifth time in eight games. Gustav Nyquist, David Legwand and Joakim Andersson all scored for Detroit.

"I thought we had a real solid game hear today," said Nyquist. "Our penalty kill was solid and our power play worked a lot better. It was just a real good team game we had."

Nyquist has come up big for Detroit in the second half of the season and was named the NHL's Second Star in March after registering 12 goals and six assists last month. The 24-year-old Swedish winger leads the league with 22 tallies since Jan. 20 and has a team-high 27 markers on the season.

Detroit has a tough test ahead of it on Wednesday, as the Bruins enter this contest with a 15-0-1 record over their last 16 games. Boston has won three consecutive tilts since having a 12-game winning streak -- the club's longest in 43 years -- halted with a shootout loss in Montreal on March 24. The Bruins haven't lost in regulation since dropping a 4-2 decision against a visiting Washington Capitals club on March 1.

However, the Bruins, who clinched the Atlantic Division title over the weekend, have not fared well against Detroit recently, losing six of the last seven games in this Original Six matchup.

Boston recorded a 4-1 home win over the Red Wings to open the four-game season series on Oct. 5, but Detroit has won both encounters since. The last meeting was on Nov. 27, when the Wings slammed the visiting Bruins by a 6-1 score. That loss still stands as Boston's largest margin of defeat this season and it marked Detroit's third straight home win over the B's.

Jimmy Howard will get the start for Detroit on Wednesday and he boasts a 3-1-0 record and a 2.20 goals against average in four career games against the Bruins. Boston's Tuukka Rask is 1-3-1 with a 3.60 GAA in five lifetime appearances against the Red Wings.

After clinching the division crown with Saturday's 4-2 win at Washington, the Bruins picked up a third straight victory the following day in Philadelphia. The 4-3 decision was also the club's ninth consecutive road win, setting a new club record for a winning streak outside of Boston. The current streak bests the road mark set by the team in 1971-72 and equaled in 1992-93.

Although Boston allowed the Flyers to tie the game on a Vincent Lecavalier goal with 24.1 seconds left in the third period, Reilly Smith scored the game- winner in the fifth round of the shootout.

Patrice Bergeron scored for the seventh straight game in the win, giving him the longest current goal-scoring streak in the NHL. With eight goals during the tear, Boston's valuable two-way forward now has 27 markers on the season. Bergeron is four goals shy of matching his career-best total of 31 goals set during the 2005-06 season.

Zdeno Chara and former Flyer Andrej Meszaros supplied Boston's other goals, while Rask recorded a career-high 49 saves for the Bruins, who have taken at least one point in each of their last 16 road games (13-0-3), also a franchise record.

Boston is playing the third part of a four-game road trip tonight and is 23-10-3 as the guest this season. Detroit, meanwhile, is just 16-12-10 as the host this season.

04/02 12:40:06 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ECU 58
FRES 52
1st
CIN 5
NCCU 6
 
1st
WAS 1
ATL 4
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
GSW
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
DET
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
SAC
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
CHI
1st
UMO 0
OHIO 0
 
Final
ECU 58
FRES 52
Final
ELON 74
MRGST 73
 
Final
MIZZ 61
PURD 82
Final
MAR 55
HAW 62
Final
UNF 77
LIB 57
 
Final
CHAM 85
BYU 121
Final
BUCK 58
MDES 55
 
Final
UGST 85
WCU 70
 
2nd
UWGB 38
EVAN 37
 
1st
ARST 5
ALA 4
 
1st
OHIO 3
ARKPB 0
 
1st
UNH 7
BU 3
 
1st
OU 14
CHIST 15
 
1st
TOL 10
DET 6
 
1st
CLMB 1
FD 0
 
1st
QUIN 6
HART 5
 
1st
SFLA 8
HOF 6
 
1st
HARV 6
HOU 3
 
1st
BONA 13
JST 10
 
1st
STJOE 0
LIU 0
 
1st
SYR 2
GHND 0
 
1st
MLOWELL 17
MTIDA 12
 
1st
CIN 5
NCCU 6
 
1st
VT 2
NIOWA 7
 
1st
WOFF 6
OHVALLEY 11
 
1st
TEMPL 12
PENN 7
 
1st
RUTG 7
PETE 7
 
1st
BGU 10
SEMIZ 2
 
1st
LAS 5
Terriers 2
 
1st
UVA 13
TENST 2
 
1st
KENT 8
TXARL 5
 
1st
FSU 5
CITA 6
 
1st
PBY 2
TOCC 4
 
7:00pm Tonight
COOK
TENNM
 
1st
WMARY 11
WILL 9
 
1st
USB 11
WKENT 11
 
1st
HIGH 5
WMPEACE 5
 
7:30pm Tonight
PSU
AKR
7:30pm Tonight
SMU
ARK
7:30pm Tonight
ARMY
BING
 
7:30pm Tonight
CSOU
CARK
 
7:30pm Tonight
UMBC
HOW
 
7:30pm Tonight
ARZ
KYST
7:30pm Tonight
OREG
VCU
8:00pm Tonight
SCST
CIU
 
8:00pm Tonight
CREI
EILL
8:00pm Tonight
ALAAM
JVST
 
8:00pm Tonight
ABCHRIST
JCHR
 
8:00pm Tonight
TXSA
LOYC
8:00pm Tonight
NDST
MNCROOK
 
8:00pm Tonight
NEB
NEOM
8:00pm Tonight
VANDY
NORST
 
8:00pm Tonight
STLU
NCAT
 
8:00pm Tonight
MTST
NARZ
8:00pm Tonight
TTU
NWST
 
8:00pm Tonight
TULA
SOUTH
 
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ILLCH
STXAVIER
 
8:00pm Tonight
TEX
RFLSH
8:00pm Tonight
BRAD
TAMCC
 
8:00pm Tonight
SMISS
TROY
8:05pm Tonight
DRAK
IUPUI
8:05pm Tonight
ARKST
LAM
 
8:30pm Tonight
FLGC
USF
9:00pm Tonight
COL
AFA
9:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
BSU
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
BUF
 
9:00pm Tonight
ORU
LALAF
9:00pm Tonight
CHAR
MIAMI
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
MD
9:30pm Tonight
UMO
NW
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
PITT
10:00pm Tonight
MICH
VILL
10:05pm Tonight
SACST
BRISTOL
 
11:00pm Tonight
USC
CSFU
11:00pm Tonight
STAN
DEL
1st
CLB 0
WIN 1
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
LOS
8:00pm Tonight
STL
OTT
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
EDM
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
COL
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CAL
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
NJD