For the first time since the 1992/93 season, the Bruins have reached the 50 win plateau with their 2-1 win tonight over the Ottawa Senators. Things didn't start well for the B's as the Sens jumped out to an early lead. Just 5:23 into the game, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson beat Tim Thomas high on the stick side. The play started with the Sens forecheck forcing a bad pass from the Bruin defense to center ice. Chris Campoli stole the bad pass and found Jason Spezza at the blueline. Spezza carried the puck to the top of the faceoff circle where he found Allfie in the slot where he made no mistake. There were two main factors in this goal. First was the Sens forecheck that caused the bad pass. Secondly, once Spezza carried over the line, two Bruins went to him leaving a gap in the slot that Alfredsson found.
The Bruins went into the first intermission down 1-0 but weren't without their chances. Led by Blake Wheeler and Patrice Bergeron's three shots each in the period, the B's outshot Ottawa 14-11. Michael Ryder was stopped on a partial breakaway.
Weird stat. The Bruins were loing after one period for only the 17th time this year while the Senators were winning after one period for only the 17th time this year.
The second period brought the physical play that the Bruins have shown over the last three games. One big Milan Lucic check led to the tieing goal. With Ottawa on the attack, Lucic hit Anton Volchenkov separating him from the puck. As the puck squirted to the blueline, David Krejci tipped it to Michael Ryder. After Lucic's hit, he made a break down his wing so once Ryder took Krejci's pass, Ryder hit Looch in stride and he carried the puck down his wing from the redline to the top of the faceoff circle where he blasted a shot, high over Auld's glove side and the game was tied at 1-1. I think the B's carried the play in the second period for the most part and after two, the shots were 27-18 in Boston's favor.
Marc Savard scored the game winner early in the third period. He carried the puck over the blueline, took a low slapshot that Auld deflected into the corner. That's when Blake Wheeler and PJ Axelsson took the Bruin forecheck to another level. As Wheeler chased down the defenseman, PJ cut the passing lane off while Savard stayed high in the slot to help the defense in the event the Sens got the puck out of the zone. PJ knocked down the Ottawa outlet pass, “well, I guessed” is what he said afterwards, turned and found Savvy in the slot. “Yeah I saw him. He was the high guy to begin with. I knew he was somewhere on there.” Savards high wrist shot over the stick side was all the scoring this game would see.
Credit the Senators for playing a solid game tonight. It would have been easy to mail it in as they have been eliminated from the playoffs for this season. You have to wonder if a sooner coaching change there might have changed the fact they aren't going to be factors in the Cup run this year. Their forecheck gave the Bruins alot of difficulty in moving the puck quickly and effectively out of their zone.
Congrats to David Krejci on winning the annual 7th player award. This is voted by the fans for the Buins that plays “above and beyond what is expected of him”. Personally, I thought it should have gone to Blake Wheeler as he wasn't even projected to be on the team going into training camp. Again, my opinion – we saw Krejci take the #1 center position late last year when Savard was injured prior to the playoffs.
Again the Bruins tinkered with the roster. Tonight, it was Shane Hnidy's turn to play. He hasn't been seen since the deadline when the Bruins aquired Steve Montador. Hnidy had a rough first period probably due to rust. By the second period, he was his solid, no frills self. Byron Bitz played for the injured Shawn Thornton and Phil Kessel was out again with an undisclosed injury. With Hnidy back on the defense, Matt Hunwick played up on the wing.
Tonight's three stars
1- Marc Savard with the game winner. He had a goal, was a +1 with 5 SOG tonight
2- Milan Lucic got the B's on the board and tied up the game with his goal. His physical play set the tone for the second & third periods.
3- Tim Thomas stopped 31 of 32 shots. Possibly this year's Vezina winner???
With only five regular season games to go, the B's still trail San Jose by 3 points for the Presidents Trophy
Next up the New York Rangers are here in Boston on Saturday afternoon.
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Written by Jim Mulligan