With the abbreviated season winding down, the Ottawa Senators are still in the mix for the Northeast Division title. Yet another loss to the Boston Bruins, however, might change that.
Having been shut out in its last outing, Ottawa opens a critical seven-game road trip looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the division rival Bruins, who acquired veteran forward Jaromir Jagr, on Tuesday night in Boston.
The Senators (19-10-6) faced Toronto on Saturday looking for their fourth straight win and seventh in eight games, but fell 4-0 in a costly defeat to another division foe that's now tied with Ottawa in third place.
''We thought it was going to be a lot closer,'' forward Zack Smith said. ''We're used to playing tight games."
Coming off a shutout of the New York Rangers in their previous game, the Senators generated 31 shots on goal - 26 in the final two periods - but couldn't break through.
"We are a young team and we keep learning. ... When you're young guys sometimes you try to do too much, so we have to make sure we keep focusing on the good things," forward Guillaume Latendresse said.
"When we win, we say we have to go on to the next game. When you lose, you have to do the same thing. ... We're playing against Boston (next), and that's what we have to do now."
The Senators fell four points behind the second-place Bruins, who are right on the heels of Montreal. Though within striking distance of Boston, Ottawa has played one more game and has continued to have little success head-to-head this season.
The Senators have dropped three one-goal games to the Bruins in 2013, giving them 12 losses in the past 13 matchups. The only victory in that stretch came by a 1-0 score at Boston on Feb. 28, 2012.
The Bruins took the most recent meeting 2-1 on March 21 behind Anton Khudobin's 27 saves.
Khudobin is expected to start again for the Bruins, trying to build off his 2-0 victory over Buffalo on Sunday for his second career shutout.He stopped 26 shots while David Krejci and Nathan Horton each had a goal and assist in the final 7:06 for Boston (22-8-4), which avoided a third straight loss with their third win in eight contests.
Tuukka Rask and Khudobin have a combined goals-against average of 2.11 - among the league leaders but behind the Senators' 2.01.
"We're just worrying about our game and they're stopping the pucks for us," Krejci told the team's official website. "It was a good start tonight, we'll see if it was the start of something good."
While Horton has scored one goal in three straight games, the Bruins addressed their inconsistent offense on Tuesday by acquiring Jagr from the Dallas Stars for two prospects and a draft pick. The 41-year-old, who is 10th all-time with 679 goals, had 14 goals and 12 assists in 34 games with Dallas.
Boston was close to landing Jarome Iginla, even claiming it had a deal in place with the Calgary Flames, who eventually traded him to Pittsburgh on Friday.
Boston is 11-2-2 at home and has gone 5-0-1 in its last six there. However, it will be facing an Ottawa club that's 3-0-1 in its past four on the road.
Ottawa's Robin Lehner will again face the Bruins, posting a 1.91 GAA in the previous three games this year.