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Bruins, Maple Leafs meet in battle of playoff contenders

TORONTO -- The Boston Bruins have been looking over their shoulders at the Toronto Maple Leafs as the teams jockey for playoff spots and seedings.

The teams have a chance to meet face to face Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bruins (38-27-6) have 82 points in 71 games and the Maple Leafs (32-23-15) have 79 points in 70 games. Both were in playoff spots entering Sunday.

The Bruins are 12-4-0 since Bruce Cassidy took over as coach and they have four points of a possible six in their past three games, all on the road.

They are still smarting, however, from a 7-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

"We'll park this one," Cassidy said. "We lost the game. That's the way we look at it. I'm not going to sum up the road trip. We lost this game. We won (Wednesday at Calgary). We won on Monday (at Vancouver). Our goal is to go into Toronto and play well."

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.

"Every day you talk about how big the game is, but that's what we're going to do right until the end, obviously," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "You can tell by looking at it. That's a huge point for us (Saturday), an absolutely huge point, but we've got to keep getting better.

"I thought we were, as good as we played at times, I thought we were very respectful of them and I'd like to see us go after them a little bit more. That's all part of the process too."

Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews ended a seven-game stretch without a goal or assist when he scored his 32nd goal of the season on Saturday.

"He has been playing well throughout the games he hasn't been getting a point," said teammate William Nylander, who combined with Matthews on the goal. "So, I mean, when you're playing well, that's basically what matters as long as you're creating. Now I'm happy for him that he was able to score a goal (Saturday)."

If playing against the Blackhawks was a way of measuring themselves, the Maple Leafs feel they did well.

"I think it could have gone either way," Matthews said. "They're obviously one of the best teams in the league so I thought we did a pretty good job for all of us holding each other accountable, making sure everybody played the full 60 minutes. I thought we actually played pretty solid."

This is a big week for the Bruins as far as meeting teams that have playoff hopes.

They follow the game in Toronto by returning home to play the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday before visiting the New York Islanders on Saturday.

"You have to realize that every night, every team, every game, you have to show up and be good," Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. "You can't rely on the success we've had lately. Hopefully, we realize that and go from there."

Bergeron missed the team's practice Sunday on a maintenance day and is accompanying the team to Toronto.

"I expect him to play, but I'll know more in a couple of hours," Cassidy said.

Drew Stafford also missed practice because his wife gave birth to twins and will meet the team in Toronto. Tim Schaller remains out with a lower-body injury.

Boston recalled Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly on an emergency basis from Providence of the American Hockey League.

Acciari has two assists in 19 games with Boston this season. Kuraly has played five games with Boston in November.

Tuukka Rask is expected to start in goal for the Bruins against the Maple Leafs, who will start Frederik Andersen.

Updated March 19, 2017

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