Senators-Bruins Preview


BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators will each be missing a key cog ahead of Thursday's pivotal game at TD Garden.

Boston forward Brad Marchand was suspended two games by the NHL on Thursday afternoon for spearing Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin. Marchand was assessed a major penalty for spearing and a game misconduct after leveling Dotchin in the groin with 40 seconds remaining in the first period of Tuesday's game.

Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson has been ruled out Thursday's contest with a foot injury he aggravated in Tuesday's game against the Detroit Red Wings. Fellow defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka will draw in the lineup in place of Karlsson, who is considered day-to-day by the team.

The Bruins ended their two-year absence from the playoffs Tuesday night with a 4-0 victory over the Lighting. Now, they have two games left to see where they fit into the picture.

Boston can still finish second or third in the Atlantic Division, or in the second Eastern Conference wild-card position, with the latter meaning a date with the league-leading Washington Capitals.

Starting play Thursday night, the Senators (42-27-10) and Bruins (44-30-6) are tied for second, with the Toronto Maple Leafs (39-25-15) a point behind. The Lightning (39-30-10) and New York Islanders (38-29-12) are mathematically alive, with the Senators and Leafs yet to clinch.

Craig Anderson, playing in his 500th NHL game, shut out the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday to give the Senators three out of a possible four points in a home-and-home over two nights.

"It was a good win for us," Anderson said after his team snapped a five-game losing streak. "We were due. We were starting to play some good hockey and we weren't getting rewarded for it. I think tonight everything kind of turned for us a little bit, but it started a couple of games ago."

The Bruins went through the same thing a couple weeks back, dropping four in a row -- as fired coach Claude Julien was piling up the wins with the Montreal Canadiens. But Boston subsequently won six in a row, its longest winning streak since a 12-gamer in 2014.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, called out by interim coach Bruce Cassidy for his play in a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Boston on March 23, responded with four of the wins, two of them shutouts, and yielded three goals in the four games.

Anton Khudobin, Rask's backup who struggled badly enough in the first half of the season to earn a trip to the minors, won the other two games, allowing only three goals.

It all resulted in the giant monkey being lifted off the back of this hockey team, which experienced final-week eliminations each of the last two seasons.

"It feels great," said Rask, who pitched his eighth shutout of the season and 38th of his career Tuesday. "The city deserves it. The organization deserves it and we feel like we deserve it too. Everybody can breathe a little bit easier now but we still have two games left before the real games start."

The Senators, who are battling injuries on their defense, won all three games against the Bruins this season, outscoring them 10-5. They won the last five against Boston.

Ottawa, coming off losing a home-and-home with the Montreal Canadiens, came into TD Garden and defeated the Bruins on March 21 to take a six-point lead over Boston in the standings. Things have changed since, and Thursday night they battle for second place in the Atlantic (and potential home-ice advantage in the playoffs on the line).

The Senators received a boost Tuesday when Clarke MacArthur completed his long road back from concussion with his first NHL game since Oct. 14, 2015.

"Everyone is excited," he said. "Everyone has seen what has gone on in the past couple of years. It's just great to be back, to be back playing. I wanted to play and the hurdles to get over everything and our staff and the whole medical thing ... a delicate situation that you have to cross all the T's. I was very thankful for the organization to give me another chance again."

Anderson is 11-11-0 with a 3.06 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage lifetime against the Bruins. Rask is 8-7-3, 2.42, .919 against the Senators.

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