The Boston Bruins' miserable road stretch closed with a thud. So might their postseason hopes without a successful season-ending homestand.
With three games left and one point separating them from the playoffs, the Bruins seek their third win in a three-week stretch Tuesday night by extending their point streak against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes to nine games.
Boston (41-30-8) opened March with a 5-0-2 run to bolster its standing in the Eastern Conference, but losses in seven of nine have dropped it one point back of Detroit for the Atlantic Division's third automatic berth and one behind Philadelphia for the second wild card.
That slump coincided with a stretch of eight of nine games on the road, and after opening their final trip 2-1, the Bruins were smacked 6-4 at Chicago on Sunday.
Boston closes the season with a key Thursday matchup against the Red Wings and Saturday's contest against Ottawa, hoping to improve on a 16-17-5 mark at TD Garden.
If the Bruins win all three, they secure a tiebreaker over Detroit and they're in.
"We've got a big week ahead of us," coach Claude Julien told the team's official website. "All we've got to do is win our games and we're in. Our focus has to be on that and that's what we're going to do this week – one game at a time."
Maybe one too late.
Boston failed to take advantage of the Flyers' 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday by surrendering six unanswered goals to the Blackhawks. The first four were against goaltender Tuukka Rask, who was replaced by backup Jonas Gustavsson two minutes into the second period after facing 22 shots.
Rask surrendered five goals on 30 shots in Friday's 6-5 win at St. Louis. The defensive lapse has largely canceled out a strong offensive push.
It didn't help that veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg missed both weekend games due to a lower-body injury, while Kevan Miller left Friday's game and didn't play Sunday with the same designation.
Seidenberg practiced Monday, but Julien said his status against Carolina is "unknown." Miller, who is day to day, and Brett Connolly (lower body) did not practice.
The big positive over the weekend was 10 goals after Boston totaled that same amount in its previous seven games. Patrice Bergeron has four goals in as many games, including two with an assist in Chicago.
The Bruins are 6-0-2 during an eight-game point streak against the Hurricanes (34-29-16), including a 4-1 win Feb. 26 and a 3-2 overtime loss March 10.
Rask started both and allowed four goals on 68 shots. He is 4-0-2 with a .959 save percentage against the Hurricanes since November 2013.
Carolina goalie Cam Ward snapped a six-game skid in this series by making 30 saves in the win last month.
However, backup Eddie Lack allowed five goals on 27 shots Saturday as the Hurricanes were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with a 5-1 loss to Columbus. Carolina's five-game point streak was snapped after it stayed alive with points in 12 of 14.
"We always believed in ourselves, and we kept it alive for a long time here," Lack said. "Even after the trading deadline, when we lost three of our best players, I felt like we had a lot of young guys coming in in the second half and ... we were alive for a long time."