Ottawa Senators\' Jarkko Ruutu of Finland, right, hits Boston Bruins\' Matt Hunwick during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
OTTAWA - With the boss on his way into town, the Ottawa Senators helped Cory Clouston's prospects of a long-term job Tuesday night.
Dany Heatley's 38th goal of the season on the power play late in the second period stood up as the winner as the Senators handed the conference-leading Boston Bruins a 3-2 loss before a crowd of 19,053 at Scotiabank Place.
Owner Eugene Melnyk is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday to address the team's future after it missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996, and Clouston's prospects for staying behind the bench next season look good.
Particularly after the Senators (36-34-10) ran their home win streak to nine games and improved to 19-10-3 since Clouston took over from the fired Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 2.
"That was a team effort. You can't beat a team like Boston with just one or two guys playing well. Everybody played well," said Clouston, whose team won for a third game in a row and hasn't lost at Scotiabank Place since a 6-3 defeat to Calgary on March 3.
Asked about the possibility that Wednesday could see Melnyk extend his contract behind the bench, Clouston, who was promoted from the team's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, said he was just looking forward to meeting his employer face-to-face.
"I haven't met him yet. I've talked to him. I'm looking forward to meeting him," he said.
Heatley had a pair of goals including the winner in Ottawa's 3-2 win over Montreal on Monday and was at it again against Boston, beating Bruins goaltender Manny Fernandez with a one-timer for the deciding goal.
Christoph Schubert and Mike Fisher, while short-handed, scored the Senators other goals in the first period.
Alex Auld made his fourth straight start in goal for Ottawa and made 31 saves against his former team.
Before Tuesday's game, the Bruins had owned the Senators this season, winning all five previous meetings.
"We picked up where we left off (Monday) night," Heatley said. "We feel we've played them tough all year. There's been a lot of one-goal games where they've squeaked it out and tonight it went the other way."
Ottawa played spoiler Monday night by preventing the Canadiens from cementing their playoff status in the Eastern Conference with a win.
On Tuesday, the Senators stopped the Bruins' six-game win streak and hurt Boston's chances of catching the Western Conference-leading San Jose Sharks in the President's Trophy race.
With three games remaining, the Bruins (51-18-10), who have already secured first in the Eastern Conference, have 112 points.
Meanwhile, San Jose entered its game at home to Colorado on Tuesday with 115 points with two games remaining.
Detroit, which was idle Tuesday, also has 111 points with three games left.
With forward P.J. Axelsson and defencemen Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman all missing the trip because of injury, Bruins coach Claude Julien said they suffered "a bit of a hangover" after their recent successes.
"The first 10 minutes were tough for us and throughout the game we did a lot of good things and a lot of bad things.
Despite the return of leading goal-scorer Phil Kessel, who missed the previous five contests with an undisclosed injury, Boston trailed 2-0 by the midway point of the first period and couldn't recover.
"That was our biggest fear coming in," said Marc Savard, who set up both Boston goals. "They've got three games left (in their season). We had some jump at times, but flat at other times and the first period was an example of that. We weren't sharp at all and they took advantage of that."
Kessel scored his 32nd goal of the season and Zdeno Chara, on the power play, also struck for Boston.
Despite Tim Thomas riding a shutout streak of 114 minutes 37 seconds, Julien gave him the night off in favour of Manny Fernandez, who finished with 29 stops.
"We had something good going in the last five or six games. We've just got to get back to practice and work hard and bounce back," said Kessel.
Schubert opened the scoring after less than five minutes and Fisher broke in alone to score a short-handed marker, ending an eight-game goal-less drought halfway through the first.
But Boston picked up the pace in the second and Kessel beat Auld three minutes into the period to make it 2-1.
Heatley and Chara traded power-play markers before the end of the period, but the Bruins couldn't find the equalizer in the third.
"We kept things really simple and really limited turnovers and just the little errors that really bite you in the bottom when you're playing against a team like this," Auld said.
Notes: Ottawa defenceman Filip Kuba appeared in his 600th career game Tuesday, which, according to the collective bargaining agreement, earns him his own room on the road. Right-winger Shean Donovan was a healthy scratch for the Senators. The Senators play host to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday in their final home game of the season. Boston wore their third jerseys Tuesday and came into the game 9-4-2 when they do. The Bruins are home to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.