1/23/97 -- 4:34 AM


KANATA, Ontario (AP) - The Boston Bruins are worried about missing the playoffs for the first time in 30 years.

``We have to win seven of the next 10 games or we're not going to make it,'' Boston forward Rick Tocchet said Wednesday night after Boston's 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

The last time the Bruins had only 16 victories at the All-Star break, Hall of Famer Bobby Orr was a rookie (1966-67). Playing 22 of their last 36 games on the road won't make Boston's task any easier.

The victory ended a four-game losing slide for the Bruins (17-23-6) and opened up a four-point lead on the Senators (14-22-8) in their battle for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

``We're a desperate team,'' Boston coach Steve Kasper said. ``We have a tough time, even when we're playing well. We needed to come out and make things happen for us.''

Boston got a shorthanded breakaway goal by Adam Oates at 5:58 of the second period, and Tocchet, Brett Harkins and Kyle McLaren added third-period goals to seal the victory.

Ottawa's Radek Bonk, back after missing 23 games because of a broken wrist, struck for the Senators with 4:58 remaining, spoiling a shutout bid by rookie goalie Robbie Tallas.

``I think we were fine in the first two periods,'' Ottawa's Shawn McEachern said. ``We just didn't get enough offensive chances.''

Boston's Harkins thought he had scored a power-play goal at 11:54 of the second period. But referee Paul Stewart waved it off following a video review that apparently showed Tocchet's skate in the Ottawa crease on the play.

Harkins scored Boston's second goal at 8:40 of the third period, after his club killed off a double-minor to Jeff Odgers for high-sticking.

``Anytime you are up 1-0 and you kill off a four-minute penalty, it gives you a big lift,'' Tocchet said. ``Sheldon Kennedy made a big play to Harkins. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.''

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