Flyers visit Boston for key East battle

( - The Boston Bruins will try to hold off one of a handful of teams chasing them for a playoff spot as they host the Philadelphia Flyers for a Saturday matinee.

The Bruins, with 72 points, are holding onto the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference by two points over the Florida Panthers, who face the New York Islanders on Saturday night. The Flyers are just four points behind the Bruins, while the idle Ottawa Senators have moved to within three points of the playoff spot.

Boston was denied its first three-game win streak since mid-January on Thursday with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. Loui Eriksson notched a game-tying goal with 8:20 left in regulation, but Tuukka Rask was bested twice in the eight-round shootout.

Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic also scored for Boston, which wraps a four-game homestand on Sunday afternoon versus Detroit. Thursday's game was the first for the Bruins since last Saturday.

"(The team) was ready to play," Bruins coach Claude Julien told his team's website. "Played hard, played well. Again, the challenge of our lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now. So I think we had a better game tonight 5-on-5, no doubt we played a lot more in their end than they did in ours."

The Bruins will try to grip their sticks a little less tight today against a Flyers team coming off a 2-0-1 homestand that concluded Thursday with a big 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

Wayne Simmonds netted the game-winning goal with 8:23 left in regulation, one of three goals scored by Philadelphia in the third period. Michael Del Zotto and Michael Raffl also lit the lamp, while Luke Schenn and Matt Read notched two assists each.

"I thought our guys responded well," said Flyers netminder Steve Mason, who came up with 28 saves. "Anytime we've been faced with a big challenge against some of the top teams in the league I think we've responded well. That was an effort overall that our guys can be proud of."

The Flyers, who visit the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, will play seven of their next nine on the road and attempt to snap a four-game skid in Boston this afternoon.

The Bruins have won the first two of three meetings this season with the Flyers and have taken five in a row and nine of the previous 11 encounters overall.

Saturday will mark the first game for Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith since they both signed contract extensions on Friday.

Krug inked a one-year deal through the 2015-16 season worth $3.4 million, while Smith is now signed for two years through the 2016-17 campaign at $3.425 million per season.

Krug has 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 58 games this season, his second full year in the NHL, while Smith has recorded 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points while playing in 62 games.