(SportsNetwork.com) - Zdeno Chara's return didn't result in a victory for the Boston Bruins the last time out, but the B's hope to pick up just their second win in December when they host the struggling Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.
Chara played on Thursday for the first time since Oct. 23, but the big defenseman couldn't help Boston beat the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, who earned a 3-2 regulation win at TD Garden. The Bruins captain did not have a banner night in his return from a torn ligament in his left knee, putting just one shot on net and getting whistled for a pair of minor penalties in over 24 minutes of ice time.
The Bruins went a respectable 11-7-1 while Chara was sidelined with his injury, but Thursday's loss was the club's fourth setback in five outings.
Boston fell behind 3-0 to the Blackhawks before mounting a comeback bid. Reilly Smith cut the deficit to two goals late in the second period and Torey Krug made it a 3-2 game at 12:17 of the third. However, the Bruins were unable to produce another goal to even the score.
"The effort was there from start to finish, but as you could see in that first period, the execution was poor," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "We've got to get better in those areas if we want to start winning some hockey games."
Tuukka Rask managed just 18 saves in the loss as his team was outshot by a 34-21 margin in the game despite holding a 10-2 lead in shots in the third period.
Rask has excellent career numbers against today's opponent, going 6-2-1 with a 2.12 goals against average in 10 lifetime appearances against Ottawa.
Boston has dominated the Senators in recent meetings, taking two straight, eight of 11 and 16 of the last 20 encounters.
Ottawa, which is 5-8-2 as the visiting team this season, has dropped three in a row and nine of the last 11 matchups at TD Garden.
While the Bruins lost in Chara's return from a 19-game absence on Thursday, the Senators failed to pick up a win the same night in their first game since firing head coach Paul MacLean.
Dave Cameron replaced MacLean, the former Jack Adams Award winner, after he was let go on Monday, but the new bench boss lost in his NHL head coaching debut, as the Senators fell 5-3 to the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
Anze Kopitar and Trevor Lewis scored less than two minutes apart early in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and help the defending Stanley Cup champions post the win in Ottawa. The two goals came shortly after Ottawa's Mark Stone scored short-handed to tie the game at just 1:44 into the final frame.
Cameron was elevated from assistant coach on Monday to replace McLean, who was fired after the Senators dropped 13 of their last 17 games.
Ottawa was able to overcome the 2-0 deficit on goals by Bobby Ryan and Stone, but gave up three in the third period to fall to 1-4-1 in its last six outings. Jared Cowen notched a goal and an assist in the loss, with Craig Anderson stopping 31-of-35 shots for Ottawa.
"I don't think we can be too upset with the effort," said Cowen. "We just have to bring it for the whole game."
Ottawa played without defenseman Marc Methot (back) and forward Milan Michalek (upper body) for a second straight game and both players are questionable for Saturday. Meanwhile, enforcer Chris Neil suffered a knee injury on Thursday and is expected to miss at least a week.
Today's tilt marks the start of a three-game road trip for the Sens, who also will play five of their next six away from Canada's capital.