Recap: Senators at Bruins 4.16.24

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins failed to clinch first place the Atlantic Division, losing 3-1 to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Tuesday.

Instead, the Bruins finished second in the division after the Florida Panthers moved one point ahead of them with a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs later on Tuesday. Boston will play Toronto, which will finish third in the division, in the Eastern Conference First Round.

“Regardless of how it went and how we played in any of the periods, come playoff time, there’s so much excitement and adrenaline,” Bruins captain Brad Marchand said. “Guys are so dialed in that it would’ve been nice if we played better tonight, but at the end of the day, we have all week to prepare and we’ll be excited to get going.”

Pavel Zacha scored, and Linus Ullmark made 17 saves for Boston (47-20-15), which lost three of its final four regular-season games.

“I don’t know [if I’m] disappointed in it, but I do like the fact that we got better every period,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “And the third period was a good brand of hockey.”

Jiri Smejkal scored his first NHL goal, and Anton Forsberg made 34 saves for Ottawa (37-41-4), which won three of its final four games.

“We kept them in check pretty good,” Senators coach Jacques Martin said. “We played like four lines, and I thought we did a good job in the third period. They came on, our goalie was the difference. Made some big saves, and it’s great to finish, I think, with a win for the guys.”

OTT@BOS: Smejkal fires home his first career goal to start the scoring

Smejkal gave the Senators a 1-0 lead at 10:03 of the second period, scoring with a shot from the left circle that trickled five-hole on Ullmark.

“When I saw [Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom] crossing the line, I knew he was going to find me there,” Smejkal said. “So, I was expecting that, and I found a little hole and it went in, so great feeling.”

Jakob Chychrun scored 51 seconds later to make it 2-0. He took a cross-ice pass from Drake Batherson on a 3-on-2 rush and scored short side from the left circle.

“We got to remember this going into next year, that you just get through these situations and you just play tight. Try to play as tight as possible, this is going to happen,” Forsberg said. “And just as a team, you have to deal with it. And today we ended up getting two points.”

Zacha cut it to 2-1 with a power-play goal at 12:44 of the third period, getting to a rebound in front and finishing with his backhand.

“We just had a little bit more volume of shooting,” Zacha said. “I think before we tried to pass it around the perimeter and didn’t [shoot] that many pucks, and this time [we] get a shot, tip net front, and I was lucky to get it there, so I think that’s something we have to focus on more.”

Artem Zub scored a short-handed empty-net goal from center ice at 18:12 for the 3-1 final.

The Bruins outshot the Senators 23-2 in the third period.

“To finish on a positive note after the year we had, it’s definitely nice,” Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said. “You definitely feel a little bit better about yourself going into the summer, but I mean, we’re not winning that game if it’s not for [Forsberg] and the big saves that he made in the third period.”

NOTES: Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot (upper body) left the game late in the first period after taking a hit from Bruins defenseman Andrew Peeke. There was no update. ... Zacha scored his 21st goal of the season, tying his career high he set last season.