Playing without their top two scorers on Thursday, it wasn't much of a surprise that the Boston Bruins failed to log a third straight win.
Likely without Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron again on Saturday night, the Bruins hope that the Carolina Hurricanes' recent struggles can serve as the equalizer as the clubs get together at PNC Arena.
Though Boston lost for just the second time in its last seven games with a 2-1 setback to the New York Islanders on Thursday, it still cost the team in the standings. The Bruins fell a point behind the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division after the Habs picked up a win over the Buffalo Sabres the same night.
Montreal and Boston both have eight games to play and the Canadiens are visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. The Habs also officially clinched a playoff spot thanks to their victory, something the Bruins could have also done with a point versus the Islanders.
Instead, New York's Josh Bailey scored twice to hand the Bruins their first home loss in regulation since March 3 (8-1-1).
Tyler Seguin had a power-play goal and Tuukka Rask made 34 saves in defeat for the Bruins, who were without Marchand and Bergeron due to concussions. Marchand suffered his head injury in Wednesday's win over the Islanders, while Bergeron has missed the past five.
"We're doing our best to find chemistry, realizing that when they come back, we're going to be a better team," Bruins center Gregory Campbell said afterward.
Bergeron was scheduled to travel with the Bruins to Carolina, but is unlikely to play. He is tied for second on Boston with 31 points, while Marchand is tops with 16 goals and 33 points.
Boston has three road games left on the season and begins a four-game homestand on Monday.
First, the Bruins will try to sweep their three-game season series with the Hurricanes, who won all four meetings between the clubs last season. Boston has won seven of its last 10 in Carolina.
The Hurricanes were contenders to win the Southeast Division a month ago, but have lost seven straight and 14 of their last 15 to fall into 14th place in the Eastern Conference. The fading club is 10 points back of a playoff spot with eight games to go.
Carolina, which hasn't lost eight in a row since an 0-10-4 skid from Oct. 10- Nov. 13, 2009, is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Jeff Skinner had the lone goal for the Hurricanes and Justin Peters made 28 saves.
"We did a good job, guys sticking up for each other, guys fighting to the end," said Skinner. "Everyone wants to win in here. I think you can see it by that effort in the third."
Carolina has lost eight straight at home and is just 7-13-0 as the hosting team this season.