OTTAWA (AP) -The Boston Bruins took the front door into the Stanley Cup playoffs while the Ottawa Senators backed their way in as both teams clinched postseason berths, with a little outside help and plenty of scoreboard watching.
Tim Thomas came within 8:14 of recording his third straight shutout against Ottawa and Zdeno Chara scored against his former team, leading Boston to a 2-1 win over the Senators on Friday night.
Phil Kessel also scored for the Bruins, who also drew even with Ottawa for sixth overall in the Eastern Conference with 94 points.
"We knew what was at stake and we approached it that way," Chara said. "We just played every shift very, very hard and it was a great team effort."
The Senators completed their regular-season schedule, clinching a playoff spot midway through the third period - despite trailing 2-0 against the Bruins - when Florida beat Carolina 4-3.
"There was just kind of chatter on the bench and we could hear a few guys talking about it," Ottawa center Jason Spezza said.
The result out of Raleigh was also good news on the Bruins bench.
"Halfway through the third we found out that we were in if we won the game or at least got a point," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "It was good to know and obviously gave us a bit of breathing room and helped us finish the game on a strong note."
The sold-out Scotiabank Place crowd was advised that the Senators had clinched their playoff spot during a stoppage in play with 1:35 remaining, drawing a huge cheer.
"We didn't want to be sitting in front of the T.V. (Saturday) and Sunday," Spezza said.
The Senators can finish anywhere from sixth to eighth, and will open the playoffs on the road against either Pittsburgh, Montreal, Carolina or Washington.
The Bruins, who close the regular season Saturday night against Buffalo, can finish as high as fifth or as low as eighth, and could open the first round on the road against any playoff team in the East other than Ottawa or Philadelphia.
Chara gave Boston a 1-0 lead 6:39 into the second when he sent a slap shot past Martin Gerber from the top of the left faceoff circle for his 17th goal.
Kessel made it 2-0 with his 19th goal 4:21 into the third.
Despite trailing by two goals, Ottawa got good news with about 13 minutes remaining in the third with the result out of Raleigh which assured the Senators of an 11th straight playoff appearance.
Antoine Vermette, who scored his first career hat trick one night earlier, scored 11:46 into the third, ending Thomas' shutout streak against Ottawa at 180 minutes, 10 seconds. Thomas stopped 17 shots, improving to 4-0-1 in his last five starts against the Senators.
"He's got our number, there's no doubt about it," Vermette said. "He's been playing pretty good against us so it's good to get one, at least."
Ottawa, which got off to an NHL record 15-2 start after making its first modern appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, came perilously close to missing the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson and center Mike Fisher were both injured in Thursday's crucial 8-2 win in Toronto and the team announced earlier Friday that both players will be sidelined "for weeks".
Notes: The crowd of 20,232 was the Senators' 34th consecutive sellout and helped the team set a new single season attendance record. Ottawa's total attendance of 812,665 - an average of 19,821 per game - included 38 sellouts in 41 games at Scotiabank Place and topped the previous franchise record of 798,453 set in 2005-06. ... The Senators recalled LW Nick Foligno from Binghamton of the AHL earlier in the day.