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The Boston Bruins keep padding their lead in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and the Philadelphia Flyers are falling dangerously close to the bottom of it.
Boston goes for its second victory over Philadelphia in four days and fifth in a row overall Saturday afternoon in a matchup of teams going in opposite directions.
Nothing seems to slow down the Bruins (39-8-6), who have been atop the East virtually all season and have created a 14-point cushion over second-place Washington. They also hold a six-point lead over San Jose in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.
"There's a reason they're the best team in the league," Flyers coach John Stevens said after his team's 3-1 home loss to Boston on Wednesday. "They have a very committed team, they don't take a lot of chances and they have gifted offensive players committed to the checking game."
That defeat was the fifth in eight games for Philadelphia (26-15-9), a stretch during which it has fallen from first place in the Atlantic Division to third. The Flyers have dropped to sixth in the conference, just four points better than being out of the playoff picture altogether.
While inconsistency on offense has plagued Philadelphia, with 27 goals in its seven wins since Christmas but just nine in its nine losses, the Bruins have had no such trouble.
They've scored at least three goals in 10 of their last 13 games and lead the East with 185. Nine Boston players have scored at least 10 goals.
Chuck Kobasew became the most recent to reach that mark, scoring the tying goal with 4:02 left in regulation en route to a 4-3 shootout win over Northeast Division rival Ottawa on Thursday.
The victory came one night after the Bruins won in Philadelphia - the Flyers have been idle since - and followed a stretch of five consecutive games against their closest competitors for the East's best record. Boston, which has gone eight straight games without losing in regulation, beat the last-place Senators for its fourth consecutive win overall.
"We looked tired and rightfully so," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We've played a lot of big games lately and we didn't need the energy to compete against a team that had lots of it and was determined to win. The bottom line is we found a way to win."
Tim Thomas stopped all five shootout attempts en route to his third straight win. He's 5-1-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average in seven career starts against Philadelphia, including a 25-save effort in Wednesday's victory.
Martin Biron stopped 30 shots in that game and has lost four straight starts while surrendering 14 goals. He's 0-1-1 with a 3.73 GAA in three games versus the Bruins after winning eight straight starts against them.
The Bruins have won the last four meetings, totaling 16 goals and outshooting the Flyers by at least seven per game. Boston is 7-0-3 against the Atlantic Division this season.
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