Ottawa is six points ahead of Buffalo in the Northeast Division and can clinch its fourth division title since 1999 with a win or overtime loss. The Senators lead Carolina by one point for the top spot in the East with three games remaining for each club.
Ottawa snapped a season-high four-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime victory over Boston on Tuesday night. Zdeno Chara scored twice, including 40 seconds into overtime, in his return after missing 11 games with a bruised hand.
“The most important thing is that we got the two points and we won the game,” said Chara, who has four goals in his last four games.
Jason Spezza assisted on Chara’s first goal to give him 10 assists in the last six games, and goaltender Michael Morrison made 19 saves in his first start since he was picked up on waivers from Edmonton on March 9.
Morrison replaced Ray Emery, who had his streak of 22 consecutive starts since the Olympic break come to an end. Emery went 13-6-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and two shutouts over that span.
The Panthers, eliminated from playoff contention, lost 6-5 in overtime to Toronto on Tuesday despite three goals from Joe Nieuwendyk.
“When you play in a high-tempo game like that you want to win. Unfortunately, we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Nieuwendyk, who also added an assist.
Nieuwendyk has eight career three-goal games and is 20th on the all-time goal-scoring list with 558, two shy of Guy Lafleur.
Goalie Roberto Luongo has just two wins and a 3.58 GAA in 14 appearances against the Senators.
Ottawa is 2-1 against Florida this season, and has won 14 of the last 18 meetings.