Bruins try to clinch playoff spot against Sens

Consecutive regulation losses have prevented the Boston Bruins from clinching a playoff spot.

The Ottawa Senators will try to delay the Bruins from punching their playoff ticket for one more night on Monday as they aim for their third victory in a row.

The Bruins are fourth overall in the Eastern Conference with 56 points, one behind the Northeast Division-leading Montreal Canadiens, who host the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. Boston needs just one point to officially lock down its sixth straight postseason trip.

However, after winning five of their previous six, the Bruins have dropped consecutive games to the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes.

Following a one-goal defeat at the hands of the Islanders, Boston was bested 4-2 by the previously-struggling Hurricanes on Saturday. Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin had the goals, while Tuukka Rask made 34 saves in defeat.

Carolina put home the go-ahead goal on the power play after Boston's Chris Kelly took a kneeing penalty midway through the third period.

"We should have played a little tougher and been a little smarter," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We took some penalties and they used them to their advantage and we didn't. In the end, that was the difference."

Lucic, who notched a combined 56 goals and 123 points over the previous two seasons, potted just his sixth goal and 24th point of the campaign on Saturday. It marked his first goal in 10 games and the Bruins need someone to step up with their top two scorers in Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron out with concussions.

Marchand has missed the past two games, while Bergeron missed his sixth game in a row on Saturday. However, the assistant captain did travel to Carolina and is skating with the team as he appears close to returning.

Boston, looking to avoid its first three-game slide of the season, opens a four-game residency tonight and five of its final seven games will come on home ice. The Bruins are 14-3-2 as the host this season.

The Sens, meanwhile, will close out a seven-game swing ahead of playing five of their final six at home. They are 13-3-3 as the host this season compared to just 8-11-3 on the road.

Ottawa had lost five straight before picking up consecutive wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils. The Sens sit sixth overall in the East with 48 points, one ahead of the seventh-place Islanders and four up on the idle Winnipeg Jets, who occupy ninth place.

Thanks to an outstanding effort by goaltender Craig Anderson and his 33 saves, the Senators defeated the Devils 2-0 on Friday despite getting outshot 33-11 in the game.

"Our goalie was big part of the game, as was our penalty kill, and we found a way to win the game," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "The Devils probably played better than we did and probably deserved a better fate. But we've been there before where the stat sheet looked good for us but the scoreboard wasn't, so we'll take it."

Anderson picked up his first victory since Feb. 19, having lost both of his previous starts since returning from an 18-game absence caused by an ankle injury. It was his third shutout of the season and 22nd of his career.

Milan Michalek scored in his return to the lineup, having sat out 15 straight contests with a knee injury that required surgery, while rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his first NHL goal in what was his second career game.

The Sens will have to overcome some recent history if they are to pick up two points tonight. They have lost five straight to the Bruins -- including the four previous meetings this season -- as well as 13 of the last 14 in this series.

Boston notched a 3-2 victory at home on April 2, getting goals from Seguin, David Krejci and Nathan Horton as well as 45 saves from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin.

Ottawa lost for the sixth time in its last seven as the visitor versus Boston despite a career-high 47 saves by Robin Lehner.