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SENATORS (12-6-2) at BRUINS (12-2-2)
Last 10: Ottawa 6-3-1; Boston 7-2-1
Season series: This is the first of four games between these Northeast Division rivals.
Big story: Two of the hottest clubs in the Eastern Conference go head-to-head as the Senators seek to extend their current win streak to six games and the Bruins try to make it five victories in a row. The teams are tied in points for second place in the Northeast, but Boston holds the advantage with four fewer games played.
Senators: With the exception of its opponent Thursday, no team in the East has played better than Ottawa recently. The Senators' five-game win streak began with a 2-1 shootout victory at New Jersey on Feb. 18, followed by a sweep of their recent four-game homestand. Their game at Boston marks the first of a five-game road trip.
Key contributors for the Senators are still injured, including defenseman Erik Karlsson (Achilles), forwards Jason Spezza (back) and Milan Michalek (knee) and starting goalie Craig Anderson (sprained right ankle), but the team continues to get wins thanks to some unlikely sources. Ottawa's latest victory was a 2-1 decision over the Montreal Canadiens, in which rookie left wing Dave Dziurzynski scored his second career NHL goal and backup goalie Ben Bishop stood tall again with 44 saves.
"Feels perfect," coach Paul MacLean said after the win Monday. "It's not always pretty, but the structure of our team and the work ethic of our team and our goaltending has certainly come to the forefront, and we're finding a way to win."
Bruins: Boston closed out its five-game road trip with four straight wins and returns to TD Garden on Thursday for a three-game homestand. Coming back to Beantown is usually something to look forward to, but the Bruins are 0-for-23 at home on the power play this season. Those struggles with the man advantage hasn't affected much, though, as the Bruins look to improve their home record to 5-1-1.
Boston tries to keep its strong offense going as it scored four goals apiece in its last three victories.
"We talked about consistency," coach Claude Julien said following a 4-1 win over the Islanders on Tuesday. "Not every night is great, but it has to be good enough to win and we've done that so far."
Who's hot: Bishop is in the midst of a four-game win streak for Ottawa with a 1.50 goals-against average and 111 saves over that span. ... For the Bruins, Brad Marchand has a four-game point streak going with three goals and two assists.
Injury report: Defenseman Peter Regin (upper body) returned to the Senators' lineup Monday, while Michalek skated Wednesday with no definitive timetable for a return. Defenseman Jared Cowen (hip) and forwards Guillaume Latendresse (whiplash) remain on injured reserve. ... The Bruins are fully healthy.
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