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GAME: Boston Bruins (3-2-0) at Ottawa Senators (4-0-0).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT.

The Boston Bruins may not have to rush Joe Thornton back because of the play of Patrice Bergeron.

With its captain sidelined by back spasms, Boston looks to extend its winning streak to four games when it visits the unbeaten Ottawa Senators.

Thornton returned to Boston from the team's six-game road trip to get treatment for his back after he missed the final five minutes of the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

Bergeron replaced Thornton between Glen Murray and Sergei Samsonov on Boston's top line Thursday, and he responded with a goal and an assist as the Bruins beat the Florida Panthers 5-2. It was Boston's third straight victory after losing its first two games of the season.

"I didn't want to replace Joe because you can't replace him," Bergeron said. "They just gave me confidence. I tried not to think too much on the ice. I'm happy playing with those guys."

Bergeron assisted on Murray's power-play goal that gave Boston a 1-0 lead 4:53 in, and made it 3-0 when he put in his own rebound on the power play at 5:26 of the second period.

"He's a kid who sees the game, knows the game and he really picks up on things really quickly," Murray said of Bergeron. "You can't say enough about him. He's well beyond 20 years old."

Ottawa ran its win streak to open the season to four games on Tuesday behind its own youngster, 23-year-old goalie Ray Emery.

Emery stopped 27 shots, and Daniel Alfredsson scored twice as the Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Emery made his first start after regular goalie Dominik Hasek got Ottawa's season off to a 3-0 start.

"He played great and he looked really calm in there, not nervous at all," Alfredsson said. "It was nice to see. He came in and made the big stops when he needed to."

Emery also registered an assist on Alfredsson's short-handed goal in the second period.

"It was a situation where I didn't know if I was going to get a chop at the puck, because it was in that little corner there," Emery said. "Once it came out, I just whacked it around and the guys threw it up and Alfie buried it, so it was cool to get on the scoresheet, too."

STANDINGS (through Oct. 13): Bruins - 6 points, 4th place, 2 PB, Northeast Division. Senators - 8 points, 1st place (tied), Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Murray, 4 goals and 8 points; Murray, Thornton and Samsonov, 4 assists; Jiri Slegr and Hal Gill, 10 PIM. Senators - Alfredsson, 5 goals; Jason Spezza, 5 assists and 8 points; Zdeno Chara, 15 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 13): Bruins - Power play: 17.8 percent (5 for 28), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (29 for 34), 14th. Senators - Power play: 28.0 percent (7 for 25), 3rd. Penalty killing: 86.2 percent (25 for 29), 13th.

GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Andrew Raycroft (2-2-0, 2.50 GAA); Hannu Toivonen (1-0-0, 5.91). Senators - Hasek (3-0-0, 1 SO, 2.21); Emery (1-0-0, 2.00).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-2-1.

LAST MEETING: March 23, 2004; Bruins, 4-2. At Boston, Murray scored his 30th goal and added an assist, and Raycroft stopped 28 shots to lead the Bruins.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 3-1-0 on the road; Senators - 2-0-0 at home.

Associated Press

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