BOSTON -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean was a happy guy as his team left TD Garden late Sunday night en route to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
At the same time, Boston Bruins counterpart Claude Julien had to wonder what he's going to get when his team, the Stanley Cup champions two years ago, begins its playoff road.
"I think we like being seventh way more than eighth," MacLean said after the Senators defeated the Bruins 4-2 to avoid a first-round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, instead setting up a series with the Montreal Canadiens.
"Last year we were the eighth seed in the playoffs, this year we're the seventh," MacLean said. "I know it's not a lot of improvement, but for what our team went through this season, I think it was an outstanding achievement, and the way they finished it off here, tonight in a tough building against a very difficult opponent that we've had some trouble with, I really thought that everybody stepped up and played real hard."
The Senators were ravaged by injuries but have gotten some players back, notably defending Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, who assisted on the two third-period goals that were the difference Sunday night. Ottawa went 6-3 over the last nine games.
The Bruins, meanwhile, earned only one of a possible four points on the final weekend (including Sunday night's game, a makeup for a contest postponed following the Boston Marathon bombing). They went 2-5-2 in the last nine games, thus surrendering the Northeast Division -- and the No. 2 playoff seed -- to the Canadiens. Boston wound up with the No. 4 seed and a matchup with the No. 5 Toronto Maple Leafs that begins Wednesday.
"You turn the page," Julien said. "It's a brand new season and you got to get excited about it, and that's what I told the guys after the game. We just need to get excited about the opportunity that we have here, and that's what we plan on doing.
"It's a privilege to be in the playoffs. I know we've made the playoffs for quite a few years here, but there's a team, for example, in Philadelphia that prides itself big-time in hockey, and they're not in the playoffs right now. There's a lot of teams that are not in the playoffs this year that are extremely disappointed. We're in it, so let's be happy about being in it and let's take advantage of the chance that we're being given right now."
Ottawa was 2-1-1 against Montreal this season, while the Bruins went 3-1 against Toronto.
"Parlay vous Francais?" MacLean said when asked about his all-Canada matchup, which begins Thursday. "I think it's going to be very exciting; very exciting for the city of Ottawa and for our team, and we're looking forward to it."
Said captain Daniel Alfredsson: "I think it will be a great series. The reason I say that is the Bell Centre (in Montreal) is one of the most exciting buildings to play in. It's a great hockey town as well."
Rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau, playing in his ninth NHL game, snapped a 2-2 tie by beating Tuukka Rask with a rebound with 3:34 left, leading Ottawa to only its second win in the past 15 games against the Bruins.
Kyle Turris added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds to finish off Boston's 0-1-1 weekend.
Robin Lehner made 34 saves in the win.
"Finally we beat these guys," the Senators goalie said. "That was a good feeling, to get the win against these guys. They're good. It's nice to get a win going into the playoffs. Obviously, we wanted this win."
Ottawa grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Erik Condra (No. 4) and defenseman Jared Cowen (No. 1), but the Bruins struck for two goals in 18 seconds bridging the second and third periods. Rich Peverley (No. 6) scored a power-play goal with 3.4 seconds left in the second, and Dennis Seidenberg, who had the second assist on the Peverley goal, scored just 14 seconds into the third.
"They're a lot more experienced; they're young and they're energetic," Seidenberg said of the Leafs. "They're really skilled up front and play solid in the back, so it'll be a good challenge and we're looking forward to it."
The Senators lost veteran defenseman Chris Phillips to an undisclosed injury in the first period. MacLean didn't have an update on his player, other to say he was "dinged up."
NOTES: Boston's Jaromir Jagr missed his second straight game with flu-like symptoms. With Jagr out, former Senators Kaspars Daugavins dressed, and he had an assist, his first point in six games with Boston. ... Center Patrice Bergeron captured two awards outright and was the season's No, 2 star when the Bruins gave out season awards before the game. Rask was the No. 1 star (Tyler Seguin was No. 3). Gregory Campbell won the John Bucyk community award, and Bergeron captured the Eddie Shore (hustle and determination) and Elizabeth Dufresne (top player at home games). ... Fan Appreciation Night had the Bruins giving out prizes throughout the game. ... The Bruins won the first four meetings with Ottawa, by a combined 10-6, one in overtime, one in a shootout. ... The TD Garden crew turned the place from basketball arena to a hockey runk in under three hours following the Boston Celtics' afternoon game. The workers also already had the Stanley Cup logo on the ice after the game. ... Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Seguin and Andrew Ference played in all 48 games for the Bruins, while Phillips, Turris, Zack Smith, Condra and Chris Neil all went in all 48 for the Senators. ... Boston's Milan Lucic and Ottawa's Chris Neil engaged in a spirited battle in the first period.