If the Senators have any designs on catching the Boston Bruins for first in the Northeast Division, they must sweep the home and home that they will be playing against the defending Stanley Cup champs over the next 4 days. If they cannot, the gap combined with the Boston games in hand would make the hill too steep for the Sens to climb.
It would not be an easy task, as the Senators faced Tim Thomas, who entered the game sporting a 22-8-2 record in his career against the Sens, who started Alex Auld in place of the domestically challenged Craig Anderson.
The First Period
After the Bruins pressed on the opening shift, it was Erik Karlsson jumping into the rush and taking a drop pass from Jason Spezza and wristing a shot past Thomas. Boston didn’t waste much time responding, as less than 2 minutes later Patrice Bergeron tucked a rebound past a sprawling Auld to even the score. Both teams traded chances for much of the period, but it was a seemingly harmless shot from the top of the circle by Brad Marchand that handcuffed Auld and sent the Bruins to the intermission with the lead.
The Second Period
Boston carried the momentum into the second period and their persistence paid off as Carter Camper put a backhander past Auld just before the 4 minute mark, for his first career NHL goal, giving the B’s a two-goal cushion. The Bruins kept the pressure on and Ottawa didn’t have an answer through 40 minutes and Ottawa had 20 minutes to close the gap. Not a likely scenario since Boston hasn’t lost a game this season that they have led through 2 periods.
The Third Period
Early on, Chris Neil caught Bruins’ defenseman Johnny Boychuk skating up the boards with an absolutely bone-jarring check that put both players down. Boychuk left the game while Neil went to the bench with the wind knocked out of him. Minutes later, Kyle Turris finished his check on Joe Corvo, but was sent off for boarding as his elbow/forearm connected with the former Senators defenseman’s head. The Senators killed of the penalty, but moments after Spezza was clotheslined going through the neutral zone, Colin Greening was given a penalty for goaltender interference after being pushed into Thomas and an Academy Award worthy flop by the netminder. The Bruins capitalized on the power play when David Krejci‘s slap shot got past Auld, who had to try to fight through Milan Lucic who was standing in the crease (helped there by Matt Carkner). Zdeno Chara, apparently feeling he had to avenge Boychuk, fought Neil who stood toe to toe,(and head to chest) with the Big Z and scored the takedown of his former teammate. Daniel Alfredsson converted a cross-ice feed from Spezza after Karlsson’s rush backed in the Bruins D, and Alfie’s one-timer beat Thomas to narrow the lead with less than 4 minutes remaining. Just over a minute later, Alfredsson again converted a nearly identical shot, this time from a narrower angle as he took the feed from Karlsson this time. However, the valiant comeback effort fell short and Bergeron’s empty netter with 18 seconds remaining ended the Senators night.
Post Game Show
* * *
SenShot’s Three Stars
3. Zdeno Chara (BOS) – 2 Assists & 7 PIM for the bruising defenseman
2. Erik Karlsson (OTT) - 1 G, 2 assists, matching the club record for points in a season by a defenseman
1. Patrice Bergeron (BOS) - 2G & 1A and was dangerous all night long with 9 shots on goal
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
Spezza’s second assist was his 600th NHL point, adding his 601st in his 589th game.
As mentioned, Karlsson matched Norm Maciver‘s club record for points in a season by a defenseman and also moves him 22 points ahead of Brian Campbell for the league lead among blueliners.
Auld made 33 saves, but the 2 that he should have had, on Marchand and Camper, made the difference.
Chara’s decision to hold Neil accountable for a clean hit nearly cost his team, as both late Senators goals came with the Bruins captain off the ice serving his major.
Expect to see Robin Lehner get the start for Sunday’s matchup with the Islanders, as Auld didn’t exactly set the world on fire to earn a second consecutive start.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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