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The Pittsburgh Penguins' latest slide has allowed the Ottawa Senators to surpass them in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Senators now look to clinch the fourth seed in the conference Thursday when they host the Penguins in a possible first-round playoff matchup.
With 103 points, Ottawa (47-24-9) is two points ahead of fifth-place Pittsburgh (45-24-11) with two games remaining for both teams. The Penguins have lost their last two contests following a four-game winning streak and are trying to avoid their first three-game skid since Jan. 7-10.
Ottawa is 1-0-2 against Pittsburgh this season and these teams will most likely meet in the first-round of the playoffs starting with Game 1 at Scotiabank Place, unless the Penguins can catch first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.
Pittsburgh is three points behind the Devils, who have two games remaining and can clinch the division title if they earn a point against Philadelphia on Thursday.
The Senators did not do the Penguins any favors by losing 2-1 in a shootout to New Jersey on Tuesday. Daniel Alfredsson scored Ottawa's lone goal, and he has a goal and four assists against Pittsburgh this season.
The Senators managed to gain a point, though, and have earned at least one point in 14 of their last 15 games. They are 8-1-2 since March 13 and have won 10 of their last 12 home games.
"We just wanted to play well going into the playoffs," said Ray Emery, who stopped 27 shots on Tuesday. "Home ice is a goal of ours, it's not the end all. It's more important to be playing well going into the playoffs."
Emery, 6-1-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average at home since Feb. 8, has lost his only two starts against the Penguins this season. Pittsburgh beat Emery 5-4 in a shootout on March 6 and defeated him 4-3 in a shootout on March 18.
The Penguins lost 4-1 to Buffalo on Tuesday as the Sabers clinched the best overall record in the East.
Pittsburgh, which concludes its season at home against the New York Rangers on Saturday, had scored at least four goals in its previous four games. The Penguins have allowed nine goals in their last two contests.
"It was a good wakeup call for us because we've got two big games coming up, and we've got to play a lot better, be more intense and focused," said right wing Mark Recchi, who scored his first goal in 21 games.
Sidney Crosby was held without a point on Tuesday after recording four goals and five assists in his last four games. Crosby, the NHL leader with 117 points, has a goal and two assists against the Senators this season.
Marc-Andre Fleury had 22 saves against Buffalo to lose his second straight game after going 7-1-0 with a 2.46 GAA and a shutout in his previous eight starts. Fleury has started each game against the Senators this season, posting a 4.97 GAA in those contests.