The Boston Bruins are in control of their playoff fate, an advantage that especially is beneficial considering their condensed schedule down the stretch.
After having their winning streak snapped, the Bruins look to bounce back by earning a fifth straight victory over the visiting Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Boston (36-23-10) holds the Eastern Conference's final wild-card spot, five points ahead of red-hot Ottawa, which has a game in hand. The Bruins had won five straight to cap a 7-0-1 stretch before falling 2-0 at Washington on Sunday.
It marked the sixth game in nine days for Boston, which has one day off after this contest before a three-games-in-four-nights road trip that ends with the first of three remaining back-to-back sets.
"I thought we had a decent game for (having played the previous night, a 2-0 win at Pittsburgh) and the amount of games we've played lately," forward Brad Marchand said. "But, you know, it was disappointing to give up those two points and we'll just have to regroup for Tuesday."
The Bruins were shut out for the first time since losing 2-0 at Los Angeles on Dec. 2 as Milan Lucic had a four-game point streak snapped. They failed to score the first goal for the first time in 12 games.
"When you play with the lead, it's a lot easier, and we missed some opportunities," coach Claude Julien said. "We just tried our best to get ourselves back in the game, but couldn't get that goal.
"We've got an opportunity to bounce back here (against Buffalo), but I think our guys put up a good effort and unfortunately you come up short."
Tuukka Rask made 36 saves and is 6-2-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average over his last nine starts. He's started only one of the three meetings with Buffalo this season, stopping 25 shots before Loui Eriksson scored in overtime for a 4-3 victory in the most recent matchup Dec. 21.
Niklas Svedberg won the other two, making 32 saves in a 4-0 win Oct. 18 before Marchand's OT goal Oct. 30 gave him a 3-2 victory. It's unclear who will be in net for this matchup with the Sabres (19-43-7), who are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Capitals on Monday.
Johan Larsson has three goals and two assists in his last four after scoring for Buffalo, which has dropped seven straight (0-5-2). Coach Ted Nolan saw improvement, though.
"I'm quite pleased with the way we played," Nolan said. "These guys for the last little while, they've been giving everything."
Anders Lindback lost in the shootout for the second time in a stretch of three straight starts, falling to 0-3-2 with a 2.70 GAA in five starts and one relief effort since being acquired from Dallas for Jhonas Enroth on Feb. 11.
Lindback has a 2.80 GAA while dropping all four of his career starts against the Bruins, and he may start both games of the back-to-back. Former Bruin Chad Johnson has a lower-body injury and has yet to play since being acquired from the New York Islanders for Michal Neuvirth on March 2.
Matt Hackett has made just two starts this season, most recently allowing four goals to Washington on March 7 before Lindback relieved him in the second period of a 6-1 loss.