NHL

Boston Bruins feel heat atop Northeast

Boston Bruins
The Bruins skate off the ice after downing Philadelphia to end a four-game losing streak.
Hockey Primetime Heather Engel
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For more than three months, the Boston Bruins have sat atop the Northeast Division, feeling the occasional hot breeze coming in behind them. These days, however, the temperature is starting to rise.

The Bruins were briefly pushed out of the division lead thanks to the Ottawa Senators' overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night. They reclaimed it on Saturday afternoon with a shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. It snapped a four-game losing streak and moved them one point up on the Senators, who lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

Boston holds two games in hand.

"It's about finding answers and not worrying about the four-game losing streak," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron told reporters of the team's struggles on Friday. "It's about finding desperation, finding answers and working hard and giving everything we got every shift and coming out on top on every shift."

After stumbling out of the gates in October, the Bruins rolled off a 23-3-1 record from Nov. 1 to Jan. 5. A win over the then-division-leading Maple Leafs on Nov. 30 moved them into first place in the Northeast. At the end of their remarkable hot streak, they owned a six-point lead on the second-place Senators, with four games in hand.

Since then, though, winning streaks have been hard to come by. Only twice has Boston posted back-to-back wins, mostly alternating triumph with defeat.

"You want to make sure you're playing your best hockey when the playoffs start," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the victory over Philadelphia. "We want to build to that, and we've got a lot of building to do."

The Senators have taken advantage of the Bruins' struggles with winning streaks combined with points gained from overtime and shootout losses.

Many, if not most, expected that the Bruins would repeat as Northeast Division champs. Or, if they were to be challenged, it was thought that the Buffalo Sabres would be the ones to do it.

Instead, Ottawa is giving Boston a run. Entering Sunday, the Bruins sat second in the East, the Senators in seventh. A first-round matchup appears to be looming.

The two teams face off one last time in the regular season on April 5, a contest that could very well decide who starts at home.

Tagged: Bruins, Senators

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