OTTAWA (AP) -Marc Savard wasted no time extending his scoring streaks, and the Boston Bruins did the same in locking up a win over the Eastern Conference leaders with a matchup against the NHL's best team looming.
Savard scored early in the first period along with Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic to send Boston to a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
Kessel and Lucic scored 2:50 apart as the Bruins jumped out to a two-goal lead 3:18 in. Savard, who extended his assists and points streaks to nine games each on Kessel's goal 28 seconds in, made it 3-0 with an unassisted goal at 8:21.
"It wasn't something I'm looking at," Savard said. "Obviously, you want to get one early. Faceoffs have been going pretty good for me lately and (Kessel) got a good shot off and we just built off it."
Chuck Kobasew scored into an empty net with 23 seconds remaining and a delayed penalty signaled against Ottawa.
Tim Thomas made 30 saves for Boston, which hosts No. 1 overall Detroit on Saturday.
"We're ready," Savard said. "It's going to be a tough task."
The Bruins, who extended their winning streak to three, began their current 9-3-1 run on Dec. 31, when they ended their season-high six-game losing streak (0-5-1) with a 5-2 win in Atlanta.
"They're obviously a great team, leading the whole NHL in points, and they're a dominating team," said Thomas, whose shutout bid was ruined by Antoine Vermette's power-play goal with 8:24 remaining. "I watch them on TV and it seems like they always have the puck so it's going to be a real challenge."
Martin Gerber stopped 18 shots in his third straight start for Ottawa, which had won two in a row after losing five of six.
|Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and teammate Glen Metropolit battle for the puck with the Senators Mike Fisher (12) and Dean McAmmond during the first period of Boston's 4-1 win at Ottawa on Thursday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand)
Gerber said he had no comment when he was told by a reporter that Senators coach John Paddock had confirmed that Ray Emery would start Saturday in Toronto.
Emery has lost his last three starts and was once again the center of controversy this week after he was fined for showing up late to a team skate.
"I expect there to be a lot of media attention around it," center Jason Spezza said. "Ray's a competitive guy and he's going to be looking to prove people wrong. There's been a lot of negative stuff said about him in the last little bit and he's going to want to try to prove people wrong and show people that he's a good goaltender and that he cares, and hopefully he does that."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson - the NHL's scoring leader through Wednesday with 68 points - did not play because of a nagging hip injury. Ottawa has lost eight of the nine games Alfredsson has missed since the beginning of last season.
Alfredsson, who pulled himself out of Tuesday's 5-2 road win over the New York Islanders, was chosen the league's first star of the week after he set a career high and team record with seven points one week earlier in an 8-4 win at Tampa Bay. He is also expected to sit out Saturday in Toronto.
Bruins left wing P.J. Axelsson returned to the lineup after missing seven games because of a bruised right foot.
Boston struck early as Savard beat Mike Fisher on a faceoff to the right of Gerber after the first stoppage in play, drawing the puck back to Kessel, who put a quick wrist shot past the Ottawa goalie for his 14th goal.
Lucic made it 2-0 when he finished off a play that started with him picking up an ill-advised drop pass Spezza just inside the Bruins' zone.
Lucic raced down the ice and passed to Glen Metropolit, who fed the puck to Kobasew. Gerber stopped Kobasew's shot but Lucic put the rebound into the net for his sixth goal.
Savard scored his 13th when he intercepted a giveaway by Dean McAmmond in Ottawa's zone and beat Gerber to make it a three-goal lead.
"We dug our own grave in the first," Spezza said. "You give a team like that a three-goal cushion and it doesn't matter how good you play after that, it's tough to come back."
The Senators had a goal disallowed moments later when a video review confirmed that Chris Kelly's stick was too high when it made contact on a deflection past Thomas.
"It was pretty close, but in the back of your mind you think, 'It's a high stick,"' Kelly said. "They went upstairs and made the call. It would have been nice, but so be it."
Notes: Savard has three goals and 12 assists during his streaks. ... Bruins LW Marco Sturm missed the game because of the flu. ... Fisher put a backhand wide to the left on a breakaway late in the second.