(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Bruins aren't going to make it easy for themselves.
After having a much-needed winning streak snapped with a shutout loss, the Bruins look to rebound on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.
Boston went into last night's road contest with Washington having won five in a row, but was shut out for the third time in as many meetings this season with the Capitals. The 3-0 loss kept the club even with the Ottawa Senators for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Both the Bruins and Senators have 95 points and two games left to play, with Ottawa scheduled to visit the New York Rangers tonight. The clubs also sit a point behind the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for the first wild card spot and two back of the Detroit Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Bruins do have the current tiebreaker over the Senators with two more non- shootout wins, but failed to add to that total with the 3-0 loss to the Capitals, who got 27 saves from Braden Holtby.
Tuukka Rask made 30 saves, but the Bruins trailed 2-0 after the first period and never recovered.
"The first period really was the downside of our game tonight," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "We didn't do enough to generate even a power play. You've got to be able to get on the inside on these guys. They're big, they're strong and at this point, I think I'd have expected a little bit more out of certain players."
The Bruins close their season on the road Saturday at the Tampa Bay Lightning and may go back to Rask tonight. That would be a good call given his history with the Panthers, who he has a career mark of 12-1-1 against with a 1.12 goals against average, .960 save percentage and three shutouts in 14 meetings.
Boston has won 10 of 11 and 16 of its past 19 versus Florida overall, taking 11 of the last 14 encounters on the road.
The Panthers were eliminated from the playoff race with a loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday, then followed up the next day with a 4-1 setback to the Montreal Canadiens. Backup goaltender Dan Ellis made 24 saves.
"We weren't very good tonight," said Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant. "We checked out. I wasn't happy with the performance. I didn't like our effort. I always talk about finishing hard, but we didn't finish hard tonight."
Rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad had the only goal of the game for the Panthers, who have lost three of four. Ekblad leads all rookie defensemen with 12 goals and is second with 37 points.
Roberto Luongo is likely to return to net tonight and is 13-13-1 in his career versus Boston with a 2.41 GAA, .928 save percentage and three shutouts in 31 games (30 starts).