(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers became the first team to clinch a playoff spot. The Boston Bruins still have a ton of work to do to join the postseason party.
The Bruins will try to halt a six-game slide and improve their playoff credentials when they host the Rangers in Saturday's battle at TD Garden.
Boston led the NHL with 117 points in 2013-14, but presently the club is in a tight battle for the last wild card spot in the East. The Bruins and Ottawa Senators each have 85 points, but the Sens hold the current tiebreaker due to having played one fewer game. Ottawa will visit Toronto on Saturday night.
The Bruins had a chance to move past the Sens for the last postseason berth on Thursday, when Ottawa lost in regulation to the New York Rangers, 5-1. The setback halted the Sens' winning streak at seven games, but Boston couldn't take full advantage of the loss as it dropped an overtime decision to visiting Anaheim.
Boston carried a 2-1 lead over the Ducks into the final minute of regulation, but Anaheim's Corey Perry tied the game with 38.5 seconds left in the third period. Ryan Getzlaf then won the contest at 1:51 of the extra session.
Getzlaf fired a shot from above the right circle that was tipped in front by Perry to knot things at 2-2. After the Ducks failed to convert on a power play in overtime, Getzlaf carried the puck across the Boston blue line and beat Tuukka Rask with a wrist shot from the high slot.
"Terrible feeling obviously ... we played a great game and good kill there in the overtime and then a loss, so it's tough to swallow," said Rask, who made 29 saves in defeat.
The loss dropped Boston to 0-3-3 over its last six games and spoiled the return of Boston forward David Krejci, who assisted on goals by Loui Eriksson and Ryan Spooner. Krejci played against the Ducks after missing 15 games with a partially torn MCL in his left knee.
Boston fell to 21-10-7 as the host.
Anaheim's win over the Bruins was part of the equation that allowed the Rangers to become the first team to secure a postseason berth this season. The other part came with New York's decisive 5-1 win in Ottawa the same night.
New York now can get to work on winning its first division title since the 2012 campaign, when it won the Atlantic Division. The Rangers have 101 points, putting them eight ahead of the rival Islanders for the Metropolitan Division lead.
The Blueshirts also are tied with Anaheim for the overall NHL lead and are one point ahead of Montreal for first in the East. The Canadiens host Florida on Saturday, while the Ducks visit the Islanders.
The Rangers dealt Ottawa goaltender Andrew Hammond the first regulation loss of his career on Thursday. Hammond was 14-0-1 in his first 15 starts before getting chased by New York, which scored five goals on 22 shots before the goalie was pulled late in the second period.
Chris Kreider led the Rangers' barrage with two goals and an assist. Mats Zuccarello and Dan Boyle each scored once and assisted on another, while Derek Stepan and Kevin Hayes notched a pair of helpers for New York.
"We probably caught their goaltender on an off night there a little bit, and we were able to capitalize early," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. "We were able to take it home and get two points to clinch a playoff spot. That was our first goal. Now we've clinched and we're going to try and work for home-ice advantage."
Cam Talbot stopped 23-of-24 chances for the Rangers, yielding only Curtis Lazar's first-period score.
Talbot has been superb for New York while keeping the No. 1 goaltender role warm for Henrik Lundqvist, who has been out since early February with a vascular injury. However, Lundqvist suited up as the backup on Thursday and is expected to see his first action since Feb. 2 this weekend. If the Swedish star doesn't play this afternoon, he will likely get the call in tomorrow's home game versus the Washington Capitals.
The Rangers halted a four-game losing streak against Boston with a 3-2 home win on Feb. 4. Talbot anchored that regulation win with an 18-save performance, but Lundqvist is 21-10-2 with a 1.85 goals against average in 33 career games against the Bruins.