NHL

Red Wings stumble into Boston

BOSTON -- Last year, the Detroit Red Wings squeezed past the Boston Bruins and made the playoffs for the 25th year in a row.

On Wednesday night, the Original Six teams meet at TD Garden, and it looks as if there is no way recent history will repeat itself in 2017.

It isn't as though the Bruins have already clinched a return to the playoffs, but it certainly looks as if the Wings' run is finally over.

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Detroit comes into the Wednesday game losers of three straight, 3-7-2 in its last 12 games and in last place in the Eastern Conference -- 12 points away from a wild-card spot.

Translation: The streak will end.

The Bruins have a different streak, as they hope to end a two-year playoff absence. Their loss in Ottawa on Monday night and what happened Tuesday left them in third place in the Atlantic Division, just two points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have a game in hand. And the Islanders' win in Edmonton left New York in the second wild-card position with one fewer point than the Bruins.

Boston is 8-3-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy but has lost two of its past three games, causing the Bruins to look behind instead of ahead. They trail Ottawa by four points for second place in the Atlantic, and the Senators have two games in hand.

To make things tougher, Ryan Spooner, an important part of the Bruins' charge under Cassidy after speaking out against fired coach Claude Julien, sustained a concussion Monday night and is out indefinitely. Austin Czarnik was recalled from AHL Providence on Tuesday.

"At the end of the day, we had a chance to win the game (Monday), and that wasn't our best (outing), so that's a positive," Cassidy said Tuesday. "Tomorrow the message won't have anything to do with Ottawa. We addressed that this morning, and this is a new one on the schedule. We've played well at home and we've started well at home. We've maybe not scored as much in the first period, but we've started well.

"We've got to continue that trend. I don't think the guys are going to be looking back. I don't think they're going to be worried about a loss. They didn't enjoy it. Nobody did. But now it's done and we're just going to move on, and that's the attitude that I expect they'll have."

The Red Wings battled back in Toronto on Tuesday before losing 3-2. They are not ready to give up, though.

"In the situation we're in, we have to get points," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said after the loss to the Maple Leafs. "Tonight was a huge game for us, tomorrow is the same thing.

"Unfortunately we fell short here tonight, but we've got to build on what we did good and fix what we did bad."

The news got worse for the Red Wings before the Tuesday game when defenseman Ryan Sproul was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a left knee injury he sustained Saturday.

Boston and Detroit have played three times this season, and all the games were decided by a goal or a shootout. The Bruins won 1-0 on Oct. 29, the Red Wings rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits and won 6-5 in a shootout on Jan. 18, and the Bruins won 4-3 in overtime on Jan. 24.