NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 8th (All times Eastern)
Ottawa Senators (26-21-11) at Boston Bruins (36-16-4), 3 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators aim to win the season series against the rival Boston Bruins on Saturday, as the Atlantic Division foes meet in Beantown on the final day of NHL action before the league goes on hiatus for the Winter Olympics.
The Senators are 2-1-0 against the division-leading Bruins in 2013-14 and this afternoon's clash in Boston marks the final scheduled encounter of the season between the clubs. Although Ottawa has taken two of the first three matchups of the campaign, both of those victories were on home ice and the Sens lost 5-0 to the Bruins on Dec. 27 in Boston.
Ottawa, which is 13-10-6 as the road club this season, has lost three of four and seven of its last nine games at TD Garden.
The Sens will aim for a third straight win when they cap their pre-Olympic slate today. Ottawa moved to 4-1-1 over its last six games with Thursday's close regulation win over visiting Buffalo.
Milan Michalek scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner with 22.1 seconds to play, to send the Senators to a 3-2 triumph over the visiting Sabres.
The Sens went ahead 2-0 on Michalek's first goal of the game just 10 seconds into the third, but allowed Buffalo to tie the score after markers from Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. That cleared the way for Michalek's late heroics.
With less than 30 seconds to play, Jason Spezza stickhandled around a defender in the slot before dishing to the inner half of the left circle for Michalek, who rifled a wrister high over the short side of Jhonas Enroth for a 3-2 lead.
Ottawa's Erik Condra then went off for tripping at 19:44 to give Buffalo a late power play, but Craig Anderson came up with a huge save as the horn sounded to secure the victory.
Erik Karlsson scored Ottawa's other goal, Spezza added two assists and Anderson stopped 30 shots in the triumph.
"I thought we controlled a lot of the game," Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean said. "We stubbed our toe a little at the halfway point of the third period and gave up a couple of opportunities that ended up in the net but at the end of the game our best players stepped up and got us a win."
The Sens, who will play their first game after the Olympic break on Feb. 27 at home against Detroit, enters Saturday trailing the Red Wings by one point for the last playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
Boston hopes to bounce back from a loss today as it attempts to head into the Olympic break on a positive note. The Bruins came up short in their bid for a third straight win on Thursday, as they lost 3-2 in overtime at St. Louis despite scoring twice in the third period to force the game past regulation.
St. Louis carried a 2-0 lead into the third period before letting Boston tie it with goals from David Krejci and Brad Marchand. However, T.J. Oshie was able to deliver the game-winner for the Blues at 3:29 of overtime when he prevented Boston's clearing attempt behind the net and jammed the puck past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Rask turned aside 24-of-27 shots for the first-place Bruins, who fell to 6-1-1 over their last eight outings.
Boston, which holds a seven-point cushion over Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, played Thursday without captain Zdeno Chara. The club's star defenseman is skipping the B's final two tilts before the Olympic break so he could carry the flag for his native Slovakia at the Opening Ceremony for the Sochi Olympics.
Although his team couldn't pick up the win, Bruins head coach Claude Julien was happy with his club's effort in St. Louis.
"I'm proud of the way we played from the first line to the fourth line," Julien said. "All of our [defensemen] were really good tonight. I thought our team played extremely well and probably deserved better. It was an unfortunate bounce to lose that game in overtime but still a great effort from our team."
Boston is 22-6-2 as the host this season and has won six of its past eight tilts at TD Garden.
The Bruins' first game after the Olympic break is set for Feb. 26 in Buffalo.
02/08 16:01:57 ET