October 31, 2014

While their fate could twist in a couple of directions over the final two days, coach Claude Julien likes the Boston Bruins' chances of playing in the postseason.

With a chance to finish third in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins will try to put themselves in the best position possible Saturday against the visiting Ottawa Senators.

Boston might feel fortunate to remain in contention for an eighth playoff berth in nine seasons after a 2-7-0 stretch knocked it out of an Eastern Conference spot Sunday.

The Bruins, however, have clawed back into position after earning a point in Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to Carolina and two big ones in Thursday's 5-2 home win over Detroit.

Boston (42-30-9) is tied with the Red Wings for the third playoff spot in the division and sits one point ahead of Philadelphia for the second wild-card berth. Detroit visits the New York Rangers in its finale Saturday, while the Flyers host Pittsburgh on Saturday and face the New York Islanders on the road Sunday.

Boston will earn the final division spot with a win and a Detroit loss of any kind. A victory and any type of loss by Philadelphia in its final two games would give the Bruins the wild-card spot.

If the Bruins fall in regulation, they would need the Flyers to only earn one point in their last two. Boston could qualify after an overtime or shootout loss with some help.

"It's exciting that we still have a chance," Julien confessed. "Obviously we have to win a hockey game and we have to bring the type of game we had against Detroit. So if we do that, I like our chances, and you've got to hope for maybe ... a little break here or there."

It would certainly help if Loui Eriksson stays on a roll after totaling three goals and three assists over his last four games. The right wing has proven to be a handful for Ottawa with three goals and nine assists in his 10 meetings since joining the Bruins in 2013-14.

Lee Stempniak scored in each of his three games against the Senators (37-35-9) before coming over from New Jersey in February. Defenseman Torey Krug has two goals and four assists in his last five matchups and a goal and six assists over his past four games overall.

The Bruins hope to continue that production against Andrew Hammond as they chase their 11th victory in the past 15 home meetings. Hammond allowed four goals on 35 shots in a 6-4 home win in his only start versus Boston on March 19, 2015.

The Senators, who will miss the postseason for the second time in three years, ended a two-game slide with Thursday's 3-1 home win over Atlantic champion Florida.

Mika Zibanejad has two goals and an assist over the past three games, and he's scored three times to help Ottawa take two of three meetings with Boston.

Erik Karlsson has three goals and five assists in his last eight games. The captain also has five assists against the Bruins this season.

"If I was in their shoes, I'd say, 'let's finish on a winning note here,' Julien said. "So a lot of reasons for them to be motivated for this and hopefully a lot more reasons for us."

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