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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, April 2nd (All times eastern)

Ottawa Senators (33-33-10) at Boston Bruins (49-17-10), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins will shoot for a fifth straight victory when they welcome the Ottawa Senators for a Northeast Division battle at TD Banknorth Garden.

The Bruins have already clinched the division title and are close to securing the top seed in the conference as well. Boston has 108 points on the season and is seven ahead of Washington for the East's top spot and home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs. The Bruins have six games left in the regular season and will use a game in hand over the Capitals tonight.

The B's are also just three points in back of San Jose for the NHL's best record this season.

Boston's current four-game winning streak has helped the club rebound from a rough stretch that saw it post just six wins over a 19-game period (6-9-4).

The Bruins notched their most recent victory Tuesday night against visiting Tampa Bay. Zdeno Chara posted a goal and an assist to lead Boston to the 3-1 victory over the Lightning.

Blake Wheeler and Chuck Kobasew also tallied for the Bruins. Manny Fernandez made 24 saves, earning his second win in as many starts.

Bruins forward Phil Kessel missed his third consecutive game due to an unknown injury and he is not expected to be back until next week. Kessel is leading the Bruins with 31 goals in 67 games this season.

Boston is 4-0 against the Senators this season and has taken six straight and eight of nine in the series. The Bruins, who will visit Ottawa to complete the season series on Tuesday, have also won four home games in a row against the Sens.

Tonight, the Bruins are playing the middle test of a three-game homestand that is scheduled to end Saturday against the New York Rangers. Boston is 26-6-6 as the host this year and has won five of its last six home games.

Meanwhile, the Senators were eliminated from postseason contention with their latest loss, ending a streak of 11 straight playoff appearances for the franchise. Ottawa was last left out of the postseason in 1996.

The Senators were in action Tuesday at Florida and were handed a 5-2 setback by the host Panthers.

Chris Kelly and Chris Campoli scored for the Senators, who have dropped three of their last four games after making a late-season playoff push with nine wins in 10 games

Starter Brian Elliott played the majority of the contest, allowing all four goals on 21 shots. Alex Auld stopped all five shots he faced in almost 18 minutes of action for the remainder of the game.

The Senators are wrapping a six-game road trip tonight and have posted a 2-3-0 record so far on the swing. For the season, Ottawa is just 13-21-4 as the visiting team.

04/02 10:50:03 ET

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