The Ottawa Senators overcame one hurdle by finally beating the Boston Bruins behind young goaltender Robin Lehner.
And now the confident goalie thinks they can pass the defending Stanley Cup champions in the standings, too.
Lehner stopped 32 shots for his first career shutout and Erik Karlsson scored the lone goal, lifting surging Ottawa to a 1-0 win over Boston on Tuesday night. It was the Senators' first victory in five games against the Bruins this season.
With the win, the Senators moved one point behind the Northeast Division-leading Bruins, who have played four fewer games than Ottawa. Ottawa won for the sixth time in seven games and sent the Bruins to their fourth loss in six.
"We're trying our best. I think we can," the 20-year old Lehner said after blanking the Bruins in just his 11th career game.
Lehner, playing because regular goaltender Craig Anderson is sidelined indefinitely after cutting his hand last week in a kitchen accident, benefited from some strong defensive play in front of him. His teammates blocked 18 shots and limited most of Boston's shots to beyond the faceoff circles.
After losing to the Bruins at home on Saturday night, the Senators came out with a different attitude and weren't thinking as much about the divisional chase.
"I think the last game we played them at home, we played a little too cautious," captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "This game, we came out and took our chances."
Tim Thomas made 37 saves for the Bruins, but lost to a divisional opponent for just the second time in 14 games this season.
Boston got off to a poor start, but stayed close thanks to Thomas' play.
"The first two periods were really painful to watch and see," Boston coach Claude Juilen said. "You need your goalie to be good on these types of nights to give you a chance. He was good and gave us a chance."
But they couldn't open up ground on the hard-charging Senators.
"It's a point, but we have four games in hand," Julien said. "It's up to us to just do our job."
Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron knew his team wasted a good chance to push Ottawa down.
"We knew it was a huge game and we were one shot away," he said. "We had some good chances. We're going to be in some tough games down the stretch and we've got to find a way to win them."
The Bruins had a power play late in the game when defenceman Sergei Gonchar hooked Zdeno Chara with 2:09 to play. But they had trouble getting set up even after pulling Thomas for an extra skater with just over a minute left.
Ottawa grabbed the lead on Karlsson's blast from the point 14:44 into the opening period. With Tyler Seguin off for interference, Karlsson shifted from the right point to the middle of the zone before unloading a rising shot that beat Thomas over his left shoulder. Jason Spezza extended his points streak to 10 games with an assist and Karlsson got a point in his eighth straight (7 goals, 11 assists).
"I didn't see it," Thomas said of the shot. "I barely saw it released and where I saw it going was blocker's side."
It could have been worse, too. The Senators controlled play for long stretches in the first period and outshot the Bruins 13-7, limiting limited them to very low percentage scoring chances while storming the Boston end.
Thomas had to make a couple of scrambling saves early in the game to keep it scoreless.
And in the second period, with Thomas out of position, Erik Condra collected a rebound in front of the net, but missed the wide-open goal.
Boston's offence finally had a pair of decent chances later in the period. Gregory Campbell was stopped on a shot in close and Lehner made a right skate save on Shawn Thornton's shot from the bottom of the right circle.