With the fate of half a dozen teams in their hands, the Bruins and Senators played the final game of the NHL regular season Sunday night, and for the Senators it was a great one game road trip. The 4-2 win over the Bruins not only gives the Senators some confidence that the can score goals against a quality team but also avoided the Penguins and Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the game winner with just over three and a half minutes and also added an assist for the Senators. Kyle Turris also had a goal and an assist while Erik Karlsson added two helpers. Surprise starter Robin Lehner earned the win, making 34 saves.
It was an entertaining although cautious first period that saw each team get some special teams action. Eric Condra got the Senators on the board first when he drove the net and slid the rebound off Pageau’s shot past Tuukka Rask with just over 3 minutes left in the period. Milan Lucic, who had been taking some liberties with Ottawa players, got in a nice scrap with Chris Neil, with bot players freely chucking the knuckles. The period ended with Brad Marchand taking a hack at Karlsson after the final buzzer, drawing a crowd and a penalty.
The other defenseman who made a miraculous comeback, Jared Cowen, put Ottawa up 2-0 midway through the second with a long point shot that Rask never saw coming. A late holding penalty to Cory Conacher with two minutes left allowed Boston to get back within one before the period was out, with Rich Peverley scoring, assisted by former Senator Wade Redden with just 4 seconds left. Peverley took a pass from Redden, who took a big hit to make the play, and slid it past Lehner.
Boston got even just 14 seconds into the third, with Dennis Seidenberg‘s shot from the top of the circle through traffic beat Lehner, a goal that was also assisted by a former Senator, Kaspars Daugavins. Condra had a great chance to put Ottawa back on top as the mid-way point of the third approached, but was denied by Rask in all alone after being sent in by Cory Conacher. Pageau pounced on a rebound from a long shot by Marc Methot and deposited the biscuit in the basket behind Rask to finally break the tie with 3:34 remaining. Turris sealed the deal with the empty netter after Karlsson air-mailed a pass from his own zone to Turris in the neutal zone.
- Condra was due to finally score. He is offensively challenged at times and will never be a big scorer, but he works hard and was finally rewarded.
- It looked like the team as a whole let up on the rush that resulted in Boston’s first goal. As the period was winding down, Boston was messing around with it in their own end and the rush developed quickly and Ottawa might not have been at full attention.
- Faceoffs were a real problem for everyone but Turris, who was 59%. No other Senator was over 40% on the draw.
- Karlsson played over 27 minutes for the second straight night, so any doubts about his ability to play big minutes has to be erased, as does any concern about him re-injuring the surgically repaired tendon.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Pageau’s goal pretty much assured that the Senators would be able to avoid the Penguins. The fact that it stood up as the game winner means Ottawa gets to play their first ever playoff series against its closest geographical rival. Pageau had a goal, an assist and 4 shots on goal.
Ottawa and Montreal will get some rest as their series will not begin until Thursday night, in Montreal as the first half of back to back games.