The Carolina Hurricanes could use a lengthy win streak to help boost their fading playoff hopes but they'll play most of their games down the stretch away from home.
The Hurricanes, though, will get a chance to try to spark a run with a home game Sunday against the Western Conference's last-place club, the Edmonton Oilers.
Carolina (29-29-9) had won back-to-back games before a 5-1 drubbing in Boston on Saturday. Alexander Semin cut the Hurricanes' deficit to one goal early in the third period, but the Bruins scored three times on Cam Ward in the final 7:11.
Ward faced a season-high 41 shots and his team was outshot 16-9 in the opening period.
''It was disappointing for us because we've been playing pretty good hockey recently. Usually, as the game goes on we get stronger and stronger, but I don't think we pushed back well enough tonight after they came out hard in the first," coach Kirk Muller said. "They set the tone and I don't think we really responded - even though the game was a 2-1 game for the most part."
The Hurricanes, 13th in the East, are now eight points behind Philadelphia for the final playoff berth.
Carolina would appear to have an additional challenge with its upcoming schedule. The Hurricanes play just six of their final 15 games in Raleigh, where they've won 10 of 15, but will try to take advantage of one of those appearances Sunday.
They'll face an Edmonton team that's dropped three of four after a 7-2-2 stretch. The Oilers (23-36-9) have given up 14 goals in those last four games after allowing an average of 1.91 in their previous 11.
They are 1-1-1 on a four-game road trip after a 2-1 shootout loss to Detroit on Friday. Ryan Smyth scored the tying goal with 11:17 remaining in regulation but Edmonton missed on all three shootout attempts.
"They understand, down the stretch are the building blocks for training camp," coach Dallas Eakins said. "We don't want to go into full-teaching mode when we hit training camp. We want to hit the ground running and have a foundation on how we're going to play. On a lot of nights, we're starting to see how we want to play.
"We still have such a long way to go to get up to be able to play with the top teams on a nightly basis, but we're taking the necessary steps."
Edmonton beat Carolina 5-4 in overtime in the only other meeting this season Dec. 10. Jordan Eberle scored the winning power-play goal after the Oilers blew a three-goal lead.
The Hurricanes had won the previous two matchups, including a 7-1 rout in the most recent game in Raleigh on Nov. 9, 2010.
Carolina's Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist in the December matchup, and has three goals and three assists in his three career games against Edmonton. He has three of his team-best 26 goals and one assist in the last five contests.