The Ottawa Senators, 6-1-1 in their last eight games, can close to within one point of the Northeast Division lead with a road win Tuesday night over the front-running Boston Bruins.
That would actually require beating the Bruins, something Ottawa has failed to do in eight consecutive meetings.
The clubs meet after a spirited game in Ontario on Saturday. The Sens took the lead early and saw the Bruins come back to take over the game before mounting a rally that fell short.
Late in the 5-3 loss, Senators forward Chris Neil dared to grapple with former teammate Zdeno Chara, sending the six-foot-nine Boston captain to the ground in the process.
While it elated the Scotiabank crowd, Ottawa ultimately fell to 0-4-0 against the Bruins this season.
Joe Corvo also was hit in the head by Senators forward Kyle Turris on a boarding play, but the Ottawa player escaped suspension.
Corvo said Monday he would be aware of Turris in the TD Garden.
Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza helped the Senators bounce back with a 5-2 win over the Islanders the next day, with Karlsson's two goals and two assists giving him a team-record 65 points for a defenceman.
"I'm going to have to wait until after the season to think about it," Karlsson said of the record. "We've scored a lot of goals here over the last couple of games and, obviously, that helps out a lot."
After recording one goal over six contests, Karlsson has six goals and 11 assists during a seven-game streak. Spezza has eight goals and 12 assists during a nine-game run.
With Craig Anderson on the sidelines for weeks, Alex Auld started in net for Ottawa against Boston, with Robin Lehner stopping 28 shots against the Islanders.
Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist in the first period and added an empty-netter in the third to help his team improve to 2-0-1 following a 3-6-0 start to this month.
The Senators got some goaltending help Sunday by acquiring Ben Bishop from St. Louis for a 2013 second-round pick. Bishop was sent to the AHL on Monday.
They also picked up defenceman Matt Gilroy, a former Hobey Baker winner at Boston University, from Tampa Bay before the deadline for defenceman Brian Lee.
Gilroy had two goals and 15 assists in 53 games with the Lightning.
The loss to Boston was the only blip of late. Ottawa is 6-1-1 in its last eight games and has outscored those opponents 36-18.
The Senators (33-23-8) now embark on a consistent patch of the schedule, in which they will have at least one night off for the next eight games.
Boston (37-20-3) also picked up a former Hobey Baker winner on Monday on deadine day.
Defenceman Mike Mottau, a former winner of the award at Boston College, came from the New York Islanders alongside veteran Brian Rolston for a pair of prospects.
Rolston, who played for Boston from 1999-2004, has just four goals and five assists in 49 games after signing a $5 million US deal for this season.
The Bruins also got noted shot blocker Greg Zanon from Minnesota for Steve Kampfer in a swap of defencemen.
"When we go out and we look for these types of players that are rentals, we look to see that the players are motivated," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "I talked to all three of these guys and they're excited and they want to win.
"They say what I want to hear when I call them when you acquire them in a trade. We won last year and we want to try and win again."
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has been a puzzle for Ottawa, sporting a 2.00 goals-against average during six consecutive wins over Ottawa.