It’s not often that this happens, but let us savour every word of the following sentence: the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins at home in a 1-0 shutout against Tim Thomas. Yes. It’s almost as wonderful as this sentence: the Ottawa Senators beat the Toronto Maple Leafs at home in a 1-0 shutout against whoever they have in net right now. Both statements are very satisfying, but for tonight, Ottawa has faced one of their biggest tests in a burgeoning rivalry and won.
The body language of Robin Lehner said it all as he fist pumped at the final buzzer, picking up his first NHL shutout against none other than the great Tim Thomas. Karlsson started this game by scoring its only goal, a slap shot that whipped past and stunned everyone on the ice. Lehner finished it with a focused third period where he was challenged continuously by a final surge of the Bruins. Ottawa did make some costly mistakes in the third by taking a couple of late penalties, but Lehner was on top of his game and held down the fort to the last.
The Senators could have done themselves a favour by blowing this game out of reach, and despite many efforts, they just couldn’t squeeze another one by Thomas. Condra may have had the worst game of his life as he missed a golden opportunity on a wide open net with a down and out Thomas in the second period. That after taking some heavy physical punishment that Boston is known to mete out, compounded by a bad penalty in the third. This one will not be an easy one for him to shake off.
It was mostly good news for Ottawa. Lehner and Karlsson made it a Swedish affair, the Leafs lost their game against Florida and Boston actually took some penalties for a change. Bad blood was present in this game for both teams, but the much vaunted revenge fight never occurred between Corvo and Turris. Instead, it was the usual suspects, with Marchand, Lucic and Thornton playing their typical mug role and Neil and Konopka keeping tabs. The Senators came in as a team to defend Lehner after a late shot and it seems that they’ve learned their lesson with the kind of year goaltenders have been experiencing.
Boston started off this game looking tentative in the first. Their best effort came in the third period when they put out a last effort to pick up a goal. Thomas was true to form and looked great throughout, robbing Zack Smith and Milan Michalek. Boston played on the edge, as they always do, but this was probably the closest they can come to playing a clean game. There weren’t cheap shots or dirty moves.
But this isn’t about Boston’s ability to play an edgy game; Ottawa wanted it more. They played this game hard from the start and got that early goal and kept it coming. This may mark the real difference between these teams; Ottawa is motivated to keep fighting for its playoff life with teams nipping at their heels in the East, while Boston may get lazy and careless sitting up top. This difference won Ottawa the game.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.