Sens hope for scoring touch against Chara-less Bruins

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators will be hoping they've found their scoring touch when they host the Boston Bruins, who will be without captain Zdeno Chara, on Thursday at Canadian Tire Centre.

The Senators (11-7-1) are coming off a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, the first time they've scored three or more goals in a game since Oct. 25 in a 3-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks, and the third goal in that game was into an empty net.

It's the first time since Oct. 18 they scored at least three goals in a game on a goalie (7-4 win against the Arizona Coyotes).

They will face a Bruins team without its top defender.

Chara sustained a lower-body injury in the Bruins 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Beantown on Tuesday which dropped the Bruins record to 11-8-0.

“He's day-to-day. I think he's pretty doubtful for these next two games,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told the team's website Wednesday. “After that, we'll see.”

Replacing one of the dominant defensemen of his generation will require a group effort, Julien said.

“We have to do it by committee,” he said. “We just lost our best defender. Teams hate playing against him and that's the kind of impact he's got. There's no individual that's going to step up and do his job. We're going to have to do it as a group.”

The good news for the Bruins is it looks like scoring forward David Pastrnak will be ready to return from an upper-body injury which kept him out for three games and defenseman Kevan Miller is close to returning after missing the first 19 games of the season with a broken hand. They will both travel to Ottawa and will be game time decisions.

Also a game-time decision is Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan. He missed the past two games with a bruised right index finger.

In addition to scoring four goals in a game, also encouraging for the Senators against the Habs was who scored: they finally got some production from the players who are expected to carry the offense.

Derick Brassard's goal was his second in three games after going 15 games without a goal. Mike Hoffman, back in the lineup after missing two games with a groin injury, scored for the first time in five games and captain Erik Karlsson for the first time in 12 games.

Senators coach Guy Boucher was asked if there was a weight lifted from some of his players' shoulders.

“I don't see it as a weight. I see it more as deserving,” Boucher said. “We've been talking about it. We've been working on it. The guys have been very focused on doing a better job around the net, having more poise and especially lifting the puck up, screening the goaltender. If you look at our goals, Hoffman lifted the puck up, (Mark) Stone had a lot of poise on that goal and lifted it, Karlsson's goal happened because (Jean-Gabriel) Pageau is really screening the goaltender. All the goals we got we a result the guys really pushing hard to be better around the net.”

Craig Anderson will start in goal for the sixth time in the Senators past seven games (he's 3-1-1 in his past five games).