GAME: Ottawa Senators (28-7-3) at Boston Bruins (14-19-6).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Ottawa Senators are proving to be formidable even without offensive stars Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza in the lineup.
The short-handed Senators hope to add to their league-high point total as they travel to Boston to play the struggling Bruins.
Alfredsson has missed two straight games for Ottawa, which has won five of its last six. Alfredsson, whose 25 goals rank fourth in the NHL, is expected to miss another week with a cracked rib.
Spezza has missed six of the Senators' last seven games with a pulled chest muscle. He leads Ottawa with 35 assists and ranks third on the team behind Dany Heatley (56 points) and Alfredsson (55) with 48 points.
Chris Phillips, Patrick Eaves and Peter Schaefer scored, and Dominik Hasek made 23 saves to lead the Senators past the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Wednesday.
"If you look at the guys that are injured, that's a lot of firepower, a lot of points we're missing," said Phillips, a defenseman who picked up his first goal of the season. "A lot of nights, their talent just takes over and gets you goals. That's why we had to be smarter about not giving up as many chances."
On the defensive side, the Senators successfully killed eight of nine Washington power plays. They kept Capitals rookie Alexander Ovechkin in check, ending his six-game goal-scoring streak.
With the win, Ottawa improved its NHL-best point total to 59.
Boston is 5-6-1 since beating the Senators 3-0 on Dec. 1. The Bruins are 1-2 against Ottawa on the season, getting outscored 10-3 the first two games.
The Bruins began a seven-game homestand Monday with a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Goaltender Hannu Toivonen took the defeat for Boston despite stopping 20 shots.
The Bruins dropped to 1-5-1 in one-goal games at home. Their failure to win the close ones at home has been costly.
Among Eastern Conference clubs, only the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have posted fewer points than the Bruins this season.
"Common sense would suggest that given the circumstances this is an important time for us," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "Every game we play is important and we're well aware of that. We've got to take advantage of this homestand."
STANDINGS (through Jan. 4): Senators - 59 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Bruins - 34 points, 5th place, 25 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Heatley, 26 goals and 56 points; Spezza, 35 assists; Zdeno Chara, 100 PIM. Bruins - Sergei Samsonov, 15 goals and 29 points; Patrice Bergeron and Brad Stuart, 16 assists; Hal Gill, 54 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 4): Senators - Power play: 22.1 percent (54 for 244), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (217 for 255), 4th. Bruins - Power play: 16 percent (35 for 219), 21st. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (201 for 241), tied for 10th.
GOALTENDERS: Senators - Hasek (20-5-2, 3 SO, 2.06 GAA); Ray Emery (8-2-1, 1, 2.78). Bruins - Toivonen (9-5-4, 1, 2.67); Andrew Raycroft (5-14-2, 0, 3.45).
SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 1; Bruins, 3-0. At Boston, Marco Sturm had a goal and an assist in his first game with the Bruins, and Toivonen stopped 26 shots to earn his first career shutout. The win came in Boston's first game after trading captain Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 12-4-3 on the road; Bruins - 6-7-2 at home.