(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals already have punched a ticket to the postseason, but the Boston Bruins still have work left to qualify for an eighth straight trip to the playoffs.
The Bruins hope to help their postseason case with a sixth straight victory on Wednesday when they visit the Capitals at the Verizon Center.
Boston has 95 points, tied with the Ottawa Senators for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins own the current tiebreaker with a game in hand over the idle Sens and also trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point for the first wild card position.
The Bruins still have an outside chance at third place in the Atlantic Division as well. They trail the Detroit Red Wings by two points with one fewer game played.
The Bruins have been idle since recording Saturday's home shootout win over Toronto and they're hoping the down time is long enough to allow Zdeno Chara to heal. The star defenseman suffered an injury in Saturday's tilt after blocking a shot with left ankle and was held out of practice on Monday.
Chara returned to practice on Tuesday and is expected to play tonight. However, Boston did recall defenseman Joe Morrow from Providence of the AHL on an emergency basis just in case the big Slovakian is unable to play.
The Bruins recorded a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs. Patrice Bergeron posted his club's lone goal in regulation and also netted the winner in the shootout.
Boston was forced to the limit by Toronto despite outshooting the Leafs by a 50-28 margin through regulation and overtime. The 50 shots marked a season high for the Bruins.
"Everyone is playing desperate hockey, good hockey, and it definitely keeps us on our toes," Bergeron admitted.
Tuukka Rask stopped 27 shots for the Bruins, who matched a season high with their fifth straight win. Boston hasn't won six in a row since a 12-game tear from March 2-22, 2014.
The Bruins have recorded five straight victories on four occasions this season and the last time was from March 7-14. That run was halted by the Capitals, who recorded a 2-0 home win over Boston on March 15.
Washington has won three of four and five of the last seven encounters with the B's in D.C. The Caps have claimed two straight, four of six and seven of the past 10 meetings overall.
The Capitals are back in the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons after missing the postseason tournament last spring. They officially clinched a berth thanks to a combination of Sunday's 2-1 win in Detroit and Ottawa's shootout loss to Toronto later that evening.
Washington is still hoping to claim the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and enters Wednesday with a one-point lead over the New York Islanders for the spot. The Caps also sit three points ahead of fourth-place Pittsburgh. All three teams have two games remaining in the regular season.
Braden Holtby made 35 saves to anchor Sunday's win in the Motor City. Holtby, making a franchise-record 23rd straight start, earned his 40th win of the season and 100th of his career. Holtby broke the record held by Wayne Stephenson, who started 22 consecutive games from Feb. 23-April 5, 1980.
If he starts again tonight, Holtby has a chance to match Washington's record for wins in a season. Olaf Kolzig won a club-record 41 games during the 1999-2000 season.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Mike Green scored for the Capitals in Detroit, helping Washington win for the fourth time in five games and rebound from Saturday's overtime loss in Ottawa. Washington posted a 2-0-1 mark on a three-game road trip and will now close the regular season with consecutive home games.
"I won't say this is like playoff hockey, but it's the closest thing you're going to get to it in the regular season," said Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen. "It's a big time desperation level from everybody. We're rising to the challenge right now. That's a good road trip, five out of six points against teams that are desperate."
Washington could get Eric Fehr back tonight after he missed Sunday's game with an upper-body injury, but fellow forward Tom Wilson is expected to sit out this evening with a head injury sustained against the Red Wings.
Wilson was hit in the head with a puck during the third period and could be replaced in the lineup on Wednesday by Stanislav Galiev, who was recalled Tuesday from Hershey of the AHL. Galiev, a third-round draft pick in 2010, is in line to make his NHL debut tonight.
Holtby is 6-2-0 with a 1.80 goals against average in eight career games against Boston. Rask, on the other hand, is just 1-5-3 with a 3.00 GAA in nine lifetime appearances versus the Caps.
Boston is beginning a three-game road trip that will wrap up its regular season. The B's visit Florida on Thursday before completing their schedule Saturday in Tampa.