Ottawa, which has been one of the league’s hottest teams over the last two months, clinched its 10th straight playoff appearance with a 7-2 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday coupled with a loss by the New York Islanders on Sunday.
The rout of the Lightning extended Ottawa’s winning streak to three and gave the team points in 11 consecutive contests (7-0-4).
“It’s a real compliment to the guys, no question,” Senators coach Bryan Murray said. “The work ethic, as you saw tonight, has really been good. It’s amazing. That doesn’t happen a lot where you get points in every game pretty much.”
The Senators are 15-1-5 since Feb. 8, pushing their point total to 98 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They are five points behind Buffalo in the conference and Northeast Division. If Ottawa (45-23-8) doesn’t catch Buffalo, the best it can finish is fourth, which would still give it home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think we’re playing good hockey and really good defensive hockey,” Ottawa goalie Ray Emery said. “So even if the other team gets a couple of goals on us, it’s still pretty close at the end of the game and we have a chance to get some points out of it.”
The Senators have won 15 of their last 18 home games and if they can get past Boston, will secure their fourth straight season with at least 100 points.
Boston (34-35-6) has dropped out of playoff contention with a slump at the end of the season. The Bruins lost 5-0 to Pittsburgh on Sunday, the team’s fifth straight defeat.
Boston allowed three power-play goals to the Penguins in the first period after failing to score three times on its own power play.
“They got three goals on seven shots,” Boston coach Dave Lewis said. “And it really affected our psyche for the rest of the game.”
The Bruins have lost 11 of their last 15 games and sit at 74 points, last in the Northeast Division. Boston is 10 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot and likely to miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
“I think everybody in this room and everybody in Boston is frustrated right now,” said Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who was pulled after the first period on Sunday.
Boston has lost three straight on the road, getting outscored 13-0 in those contests. The Bruins have allowed seven power-play goals in that span.
Ottawa and Boston have split their six meetings this season, but the Senators have won the last three games. These teams close out the regular season on April 7 in Boston.