With four games left before they open the Eastern Conference playoffs as the top seed, the Boston Bruins have three remaining goals: get healthy, stay sharp and make a run at their first Presidents' trophy in 19 years.
They'll also be looking for a season sweep of Northeast Division rival Ottawa when they visit Canada's capital Tuesday night, where the Senators will look to set a franchise record for their longest home winning streak.
The Bruins' surprising regular season will end with the team at the top of the East standings, an outcome confirmed by Boston's 1-0 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon.
The victory was the sixth straight for the Bruins (51-17-10), who still have a chance to finish with the most points in the league for the first time since 1989-90. They trail San Jose by three points, but the Sharks have only three games left.
The last time Boston won the Presidents' trophy, it eventually lost to Edmonton in the Stanley Cup finals. One more victory, though, will give the Bruins 114 points for the first time since 1971-72 - the last time they won the Cup.
Boston will also be focused on mending its roster leading up to the postseason. Leading goal-scorer Phil Kessel is likely to return Wednesday after a five-game absence due to an undisclosed injury, but a trio of Bruins skaters will miss the game.
Boston coach Claude Julien told his team's official Web site that there was a "good chance" Kessel would play, and grinder Shawn Thornton could also return. P.J. Axelsson, Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman, though, won't make the trip due to injuries the coach called "maintenance."
The Bruins' preparation for the playoffs may also include more rest for goalie Tim Thomas, who received a four-year, $20 million contract extension Friday and responded with a 31-save shutout against the Rangers.
"Obviously, this stuff affects you to a certain point," Thomas said of the contract talks, "but I've been able to put it behind me and just concentrate on hockey."
After a lengthy slump, the Bruins have sharpened their game in recent weeks, and they've been dominant defensively in their last three games. Opponents managed two goals during the team's three-game homestand, failing on all 11 of their power play attempts.
That stretch included a 2-1 win over Ottawa on Thursday night - Boston's seventh straight victory over the Senators. The Bruins have scored 20 goals in five wins to start this season's series.
The Senators (35-34-10) will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996, but they have played well down the stretch, especially at home. They've outscored visitors 32-19 during their eight-game home winning streak, going 10-for-34 (29.4 percent) on the power play over that span.
The team has already matched its eight-game streak from the 2002-03 season, and will be seeking the first nine-game run at home in franchise history.
Ottawa, 17-9-2 overall since Feb. 7, won 3-2 in Montreal on Monday night, when Dany Heatley scored two goals 38 seconds apart in the third period to give the Senators the lead. Heatley needs three goals in his final three games to notch a fourth consecutive 40-goal season.
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