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Bruins collapse with playoffs on line, lose to Senators

Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON - With Boston goalie Tuukka Rask out sick for the Bruins' last-gasp run at a playoff berth, backup Jonas Gustavsson allowed four goals in the first half of the second period and the Ottawa Senators went on to win the regular-season finale 6-1 on Saturday.

The loss left Boston tied with Detroit with 93 points and trailing the Red Wings in the tiebreaker. The Bruins can still make the playoffs if the Philadelphia Flyers get no more than one point in their last two games, including one later Saturday against Pittsburgh.

The Bruins' chances of avoiding a second consecutive missed postseason were damaged when Rask, the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner, was scratched from the starting lineup with what the team said was an ''illness.'' Rask was with the team for the pregame warmup, but he spent most of it near the bench while Gustavsson took practice shots in the net.

Gustavsson, who hadn't started since March 18, stopped all 17 shots he faced in the first period and was spotted a 1-0 lead when David Pastrnak received Brad Marchand's lofted pass over the blue line and beat Andrew Hammond just 5 minutes into the game. Pastrnak appeared to be offside, but the referee couldn't find a replay angle that was conclusive.

But in the second, the Senators quickly turned things around.

Chris Neil scored 1:42 into the period, swiping twice at a rebound before it skittered under Gustavsson. Four minutes later Zack Smith deflected Erik Karlsson's shot into the net; three minutes after that, Phil Varone slid a backhand into the slot and Matt Puempel tapped it between Gustavsson's legs; at 10 minutes even, Mika Zibanejad deflected another one into the net to make it 4-1.

Fans who had chanted ''We want playoffs!'' earlier in the game were now booing the hometown team. Coach Claude Julien called a timeout and the Bruins mustered some good chances later in the period but couldn't close the gap.

Twice in the third period, the Senators picked up penalties and Julien pulled the goalie to create a two-man advantage. Both times, Ottawa scored empty-net goals, the first by Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the second by Smith.

Julien was retained last year after general manager Peter Chiarelli was fired and replaced by Don Sweeney. The Bruins have not retained a coach after missing the playoffs two years in a row in 50 years, since Milt Schmidt was given a third season in 1965-66 before giving way to Harry Sinden.

NOTES: With 85 points, the Senators finished 11th in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins announced team awards before the game: F Matt Beleskey was given the Eddie Shore Award for exceptional hustle and determination; F Loui Eriksson was given the Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy for outstanding performance during home games; F Jimmy Hayes earned the John P. Bucyk Award for his charitable work.

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