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Bruins aim to capitalize on Preds’ recent defensive issues

With a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs already clinched, the Boston Bruins will kick off a two-game Southern swing on their six-game road trip with a Tuesday night visit to Nashville to face the Predators.

The Bruins (43-17-15, 101 points) have been idle since following up their clinch with an impressive effort to snag a 3-2 shootout win over the host Washington Capitals on Saturday, which included killing off a four-minute power play in overtime before Kevin Shattenkirk’s game-winning shootout goal.

“I think we had our moments there where we were losing a lot of these (tight) games a couple months ago, going into overtime and either losing there or losing in shootouts,” Shattenkirk said. “So, I think it’s great to see us turn the corner and, obviously, taking strides there.”

Boston — which entered Monday leading the Atlantic Division by two points — blocked 29 shots in that game, a number that ballooned due to the late kill. Defenseman Brandon Carlo was responsible for five.

The recent two days off from game action allowed forward Pat Maroon to practice in full with the Bruins for the first time since he was acquired from the Minnesota Wild on March 8.

When Maroon was acquired, Boston knew he would be out for at least a couple of weeks as he recovers from back surgery.

“As he hits more of the steps and milestones, it’ll become day-to-day,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said.

Plenty of playoff-experienced veterans already exist in the Boston lineup, including captain Brad Marchand, but Maroon’s status as a three-time Cup winner can only be a benefit to a lineup that also has its share of younger players who are looking to cement their place on the postseason roster.

“Guys that are veteran players that have played a lot of playoff games, that know how to win, you would like them to have games. But it’s not necessary,” Montgomery said. “They know what it takes to win. They know their role, they relish the role.”

The Predators (43-27-4, 90 points) were on an 18-game points streak (16-0-2) before a winless two-game road trip, during which they allowed 15 goals in losses to the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

The 7-4 loss to Colorado also marked Nashville’s second straight game allowing 40 or more shots, though still taking at least 35.

Coach Andrew Brunette thought it was a strong game at even strength, but Colorado’s 3-for-6 effort on the power play versus Nashville’s 0-for-5 mark was the difference.

“I thought five-on-five we played really well,” Brunette said. “I think they’ve got a great power play. So we gave them too many opportunities. They’re going to score. Obviously, did some OK things, but the power play was no good either.”

After such a lengthy unblemished period, the Predators — who entered Monday leading the Los Angeles Kings by three points for the first Western Conference wild card — know where they have to be better.

“Some offensive-zone penalties really hurt us,” Brunette said. “(There are) some little things that haven’t crept in for a while that we’ll correct.”

Filip Forsberg had a seven-game goal streak snapped, but he has still recorded points in nine straight and 17 of his last 20.

“I can’t even count the amount of important goals (Forsberg has) scored for us this year,” Predators captain Roman Josi said. “I just feel like obviously on that stuff, he’s been unbelievable. … He wants to be that guy who makes something happen.”

Gustav Nyquist has lit the lamp in three straight games while recording points in eight in a row following a one-goal, one-assist performance.

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