A 1-1 tie through regulation kept the Northeast cohabitants deadlocked in the standings a little longer after a convincing staring contest between goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Robin Lehner. It also extended Boston’s point-earning streak to five games, and Ottawa’s to six.
Perhaps fittingly, therefore, it took a second look at the video to confirm the winner of the bonus point. Patrice Bergeron’s deflection of Dennis Seidenberg’s overtime point shot sneaked home to give Boston its fifth consecutive win and a one-point advantage with four games in hand on the Senators.
As the oft-applicable adage goes, the Bruins’ 2-1 triumph began from the goal out. It continued with bumpy back-and-forth action and also churned amidst a can’t-miss off-ice storyline that intersects with the contesting organization.
All of those constitute the critical takeaways from Thursday’s action and are detailed as follows.
The final shot tally of 46-31 in favor of the Bruins was not always indicative of the chances each defensive brigade and goaltender authorized. Of the 54 whistles blown Thursday night, a combined 30 were summoned by Lehner and Rask, whose praetorian guards were often swift to clear prospective rebounds the rest of the time.
To beat Lehner, Boston simply needed any combination of first-shot precision and/or fortune. It had plenty of both in polishing off a fleeting rush to draw first blood via Nathan Horton at 5:48 of the second period and a little of the latter on Bergeron’s walk-off strike.
Rask’s shutout bid and the Bruins’ endeavor to put Ottawa away in regulation were both spoiled when Jim O’Brien stashed a rare de facto rebound. Within five seconds of being denied on his initial shot, Kaspars Daugavins found Zack Smith, who in turn set up O’Brien for the equalizer.
There were only two other instances, one at each end, of a pair of shots on goal coming five seconds apart or fewer. Ottawa garnered a hard-earned point by making one of those count.
Two of the three Bruins to record an assist on the night also combined for 12 body checks.
Milan Lucic led the way in the physicality department with seven hits and logged the primary helper on Horton’s icebreaker. Seidenberg imposed his will on various Ottawa skaters five times before his shot was guided home by Bergeron to settle the score.
Lucic’s seven hits matched a single-game high for the month of February previously set against Tampa Bay exactly a week prior. Likewise, his secondary assist extended his production streak to three games, his second streak of that length this month and season.
The generally stay-at-home Seidenberg now has six points on the year, all of them assists and all of them scored within his last seven ventures.
A lack of luck on both sides of the special teams spectrum was one of the downers for the home team, as it effectively determined the game’s continuation beyond regulation and thus gave a point to a divisional adversary.
O’Brien tallied a rare power-play goal at Boston’s expense for his equalizer. It was only the fourth setback this season for the top group of penalty killers in the NHL that otherwise warded off four other Ottawa chances, including one that ended regulation and spilled over into sudden death.
Conversely, the Senators remain among the top three in the same category, owing partially to the fact that they made it through all three of the Bruins power plays unscathed. Boston has now run arid over its last seven man advantages, the other four coming on Tuesday against the New York Islanders, who are another top-10 PK squadron.
Prior to the game, longtime Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson brushed aside the potential of a trade to the Bruins in a talk with the Ottawa Citizen.
Based on how the Sens have been conducting themselves amidst a slew of injuries and how they put forth an arm-wrestling bout with the Bruins, the notion of Alfredsson being dealt is not necessarily less believable. Rather, the notion of him staying put is growing more believable.
Games in hand aside, Ottawa is impressing with its current position on the divisional and Eastern Conference leaderboard. They, along with the Montreal Canadiens, Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, constitute the top four teams in the Northeast, with each seed separated by a single point.
Still, there is ample time for the Senators to start feeling a harsher slam of adversity and three more meetings with the Bruins between now and the April 3 trading deadline.
More assertiveness on Boston’s part could create all the more distance and make it an enticing potential taker, should Alfredsson choose to bolt.