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Key points at stake as Senators pay visit to Bruins

by Brian Hunter

SENATORS (26-21-11) at BRUINS (36-16-4)


Last 10: Ottawa 5-3-2; Boston 7-1-2

Season series: This is the fourth and final game between the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins. The Senators have won twice at Canadian Tire Centre, including a 4-3 win on Dec. 28 to conclude a home-and-home. One night earlier, the Bruins won 5-0 in the only game between the teams this season at TD Garden.

Big story: The Bruins play their second and what they hope will be their final game this season without captain and top defenseman Zdeno Chara, who left the team early to head over for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and serve as Slovakia's flag bearer for the opening ceremony. In his stead Thursday, rookie David Warsofsky saw 17:58 of ice time and was minus-2 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Team Scope:

Senators: With the opportunity for a third straight win heading into the Olympic break and to strengthen their run at a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the season's final weeks, there's little doubt about Ottawa's motivation heading into this Saturday matinee.

"We'll just tell them to look at the standings, and take it from there," coach Paul MacLean said in the Ottawa Citizen.

The standings show the Senators one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, following a 3-2 win Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres in which Milan Michalek scored his second of the game with 20.9 seconds left in regulation.

"It was a very important game, so we were happy to get the two points and we'll go from here," Michalek said in the Citizen. "Now we have one game before the break and we want to get the two points, but it's going to be a tough game in Boston, so we have to be ready for that."

Bruins: Without Chara in the lineup Thursday, one of the young Boston defensemen seeing an enhanced role was Matt Bartkowski. The 25-year-old played a team-high 23:20, his second-most ice time of the season, and delivered a game-high seven hits. Dougie Hamilton skated 22:10, only the second time he's played more than 20 minutes since Dec. 5.

The Bruins did well to get a point after trailing 2-0 midway through the third period in a tough building. David Krejci and Brad Marchand scored 2:08 apart and Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots before the Blues' T.J. Oshie scored a fluky goal in overtime.

"We talked about it between the periods, that all we needed was one goal to get us going," coach Claude Julien said in the Boston Globe. "We knew our chances were there, and it was just a matter of getting one in and then hopefully the rest would come."

Who's hot: Michalek has three goals in the past two games for Ottawa and defenseman Erik Karlsson has goals in consecutive games. His 15 for the season are four shy of his career high. Forward Jason Spezza has one goal and four assists in the past two games. … Bruins forward Jarome Iginla has one goal and four assists during a three-game point streak. Krejci has four goals and eight assists in his past 10 games.

Injury report: Ottawa is without defenseman Chris Phillips (lower body) and forward Mark Stone (arm). … Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid (lower body) is out indefinitely.

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