With tonights 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Boston Bruins reached the 50 win mark for the first time since the 1992/93 season. Also, they eliminated one more team from catching them and the #1 playoff seed in the east. With the Devils now done, only the Washington Capitals can still mathematically catch the B's. The B's can wrap up the #1 seed in the East with a win on Saturday when they host the New York Rangers or a Washington loss tomorrow night when they host Buffalo.
With tonights win, the Bruins have now won five in a row dating back to March 22nd when they beat the Devils at home. Tonight was unlike the previous couple wins, the B's literally fought their way over the Leafs, Flyers and Lightning. Tonight, there wasn't much of that stuff. Only after Jarkko Ruutu collided with Thomas – who was outside of his crease – was there any rough stuff. P.J. Axelsson was the first to Thomas' aide as he pounced on the fallen Ruutu. There were some solid hits and both teams forecheck caused diffilculty moving the puck out of the “D” zones cleanly.
The Sens jumped out for a 1-0 lead just 5:23 into the game. Off a Bruin turnover at center ice, Chris Campoli found Jason Spezza at the Bruin blueline. Spezza carried the puck to the top of the face off circle to Thomas' stick side. Spezza found a streaking Daniel Alfredsson in the slot and his wrist shot beat Thomas over the stick side. Two things caused this goal. First the Sens forecheck forced Chara's bad pass into center ice and the B's losing control of the puck. Second was Spezza bringing tow Bruin defenders to him, opening up the slot for Alfie.
The Bruins weren't without their chances in the first. Michael Ryder had a partial breakaway. Marc Savard and Chuck Kobasew had their chances while the Bruins outshot the Sens 14-11.
Weird stat. This was only the 17th time the Bruins were losing after one period and only the 17th time the Sens were winning after one period.
The second period started well for the Bruins. With the physical play, the B's started gaining momentum and tied the game early in the period. With the Bruins running around in their own zone, a big hit by Milan Lucic got things started. From behind the net, the Sens made a centering pass that deflected to the left wing boards near the top of the faceoff circle. Looch put a charge in the crowd by hammering Anton Volchenkov. The “tanks” pass to Comrie deflected off his skate towards the blueline. Comrie couldn't catch up to it and the 2008/09 Seventh Player Award winner, David Krejci found Michael Ryder. While all this happened, Lucic broke up the wing passing Volchenkov who was slow to get up after the big Lucic hit. Ryder hit Lucic just before the red line and Looch carried down the wing until the top of the faceoff circle when he let go an absolute bullet over Alex Auld's glove side.
The third period started out fast for the B's. Just 3:02 in Marc Savard put the B's ahead for good. Savvy carried the puck over the Sens line and took a slapshot the Auld saved to the corner. There Blake Wheeler's forecheck forced the Sens defenseman behind his net where PJ Axelsson took away the outlet pass. After corralling the puck, PJ found Savvy high in the slot and his wrist shot beat Auld, top shelf – stick side for the game winner. Things got scary at the end when Recchi took a high sticking penalty with 1:55 to go. With the man advantage and the goalie pulled, the Sens put the pressure on to end the game. Thomas stood tall, kept the Sens out of the net as the final horn expired.
Give credit to Ottawa as they played a solid game. Having already been eliminated from the post season, they didn't come in here, roll over and play dead. They forechecked hard and the B's never really got the puck moving the way they did against Philly and Tampa in their last two games.
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Written by Jim Mulligan