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Merlot on Ice in Ottawa

Posted By Matt Preston On Mar 12 2013 @ 12:00 am In Boston Bruins | No Comments

The Ottawa Senators might have one of the best home records in the NHL this season, but Scotiabank Place is like a home away from home for the Boston Bruins, who won their 10th straight game on the Senators’ home ice after taking down the Sens, 3-2 in a shootout, on Monday night.

A week after an embarrassing loss in one nation’s capital, the Bruins looked to be headed towards much of the same as they moved north to another nation’s capital. Playing their first leg of a back-to-back, Boston came out looking sluggish against the Senators and found themselves down 2-0 before they even registered a shot on net. A big save by goaltender Tuukka Rask on Colin Greening as the first period was nearing its conclusion and a goal from Shawn Thornton with just 44 seconds left in the frame got the score to 2-1 Ottawa and seemingly swung momentum in the Bruins favor.

The game, however, slowed way down at the onset of the second period, with both teams waiting for their opponent to slip up, rather than remaining aggressive. It was Ottawa to blink first as David Krejci, from deep in his own zone, hit a streaking Daniel Paille, who had snuck past the Senators defense while both teams were making line changes to create the breakaway opportunity and beat Ottawa’s Robin Lehner to even the score 2-2 at 8:53 of the second.

The Bruins fourth unit of Thornton, Paille and Gregory Campbell – better know to the Black-and-Gold faithful as the Merlot Line – which has seen a marked improvement in their play of late, nearly completed their hat trick in the waning seconds, but both Paille and Campbell were unable to capitalize on their quality chances with about a minute to play, forcing overtime. Ottawa got the better of the Bruins in the extra period, but a number of key saves by Rask, now 4-0-0 in his four career starts against the Senators, pushed the game to a shootout.

Though they did not lead all night, the Bruins saved their best for the last round of the shootout, increasing their record this season to 10-1-2 when either tied or trailing after two periods. In the fourth round, Krejci followed up a highlight reel save by Rask on a gutsy spin move attempt by Kaspars Daugavins with the game-winner on a simple deke to beat Lehner, upstairs.

Despite the win, the Bruins remain one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division, but have a chance to overtake the Habs as they complete their back-to-back Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The win, however, did serve as a milestone of sorts for the franchise as the Bruins are now off to their best 12 game road start in team history. The win was also the 245th of head coach Claude Julien’s career with the Bruins, moving him into a tie with the legendary Milt Schmidt for second on the franchise’s all-time wins list.

Tuesday night in Pittsburgh will be the first time the Bruins face the Penguins this season. The Penguins are winners of five straight, leaders of the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. They did lose Evgeni Malkin to injury in their 6-1 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday night, but that might not do much to slow down the league’s top offense. Concussion issues seem to be a thing of the past for Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL in assists (33) and points (45), while wingers Chris Kunitz and James Neal are tied for second in the league in goals (17), just two behind Tampa’s Steven Stamkos for in the chase for the Maurice Richard Trophy. For a team built on defense, the Penguins will prove a good litmus test for the Bruins as they look to close out the first half of their season atop the Eastern Conference.

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