BOSTON – The Ottawa Senators have been boastful about their six third-period comebacks that have resulted in wins during their surprisingly solid run to second place in the Northeast Division.
For just the third time this season, the Senators found out what it's like to be on the losing end of one of those comebacks Tuesday night.
Dennis Seidenberg's goal from the red line at 7:09 was the Bruins' second of two unanswered scores in the final 20 minutes and stood up as the game-winner in a 4-3 Boston win at the TD Garden.
The victory was Boston's sixth of the season when trailing after two periods of play.
"When you do those kind of plays like I did in the first period, you try to get a lucky rebound that comes out on the other side," said Seidenberg, who had tried to score to no avail on Craig Anderson from long distance earlier in the game. "But me thinking that's going in, I didn't think about that. I just tried to get it in and get a forecheck going."
Anderson finished with 26 saves on 30 shots, but what might've been the easiest chance he faced eluded him at a crucial moment.
"It took [one bouncer] and then, yeah, it hit my stick and went in," said Anderson, who made his 15th straight start. "So, it's just one of those things where I have to make the save and at the same time it took a crazy bounce."
Ottawa's third-period failures followed two solid sessions, including a second period that featured them outshooting Boston 13-5 and jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Kyle Turris broke a 1-1 tie 7:43 into the second when he beat Tim Thomas (30 saves) with a wrist shot through the 7-hole on a 3-on-2. The Senators then doubled their lead on an Erik Karlsson goal on a 2-on-1.
But with just 45 seconds remaining before the second intermission, Milan Lucic beat Anderson as the trailer on a 3-on-2 with a wrist shot from between the circles high to the stick side to cut the Ottawa lead to 3-2.
"It's something that, it happens," Turris said of the late goal. "It's frustrating that it happens late in the period but at the same time, [the Bruins are] going to score one or two goals in a game and you got to rebound off of it and come back at intermission and come back for the third ready to go."
Thomas started his first game in front of the home crowd since his controversial decision to not join his teammates during their visit to the White House one week ago. Any fears that the Boston fandom would turn on last year's Conn Smythe Trophy winner and Stanley Cup playoffs hero were dashed early. When Thomas was announced as the starter by PA announcer Jim Martin, the goaltender received his usual boisterous ovation from the Garden crowd.
"Yeah, I was happy to hear the reception from the fans," said Thomas. "It was just good to hear, you know? And I wanted to get them a win real bad. When we got down there in the second I didn't know if we'd be able to pull it off, but we found a way again."
Zdeno Chara's power-play goal 11:57 into the game put the Bruins on the board first. With just 1:20 left in the period, however, Ottawa tied the score. Colin Greening's tip-in from the top of the blue paint got behind Thomas to make it a 1-1 game.
After Ottawa owned the second period, Boston came out for the third like it had been reborn.
"Obviously, I liked our third period. We, for some reason, started moving the puck better, and we started getting pucks past those guys," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "They had three forwards hanging high all night, and they were putting it through our forwards and then getting some good opportunities there, but we kind of reversed things in the third period and, with some good defensive play, get the puck up the ice a lot better, and we got ourselves back into the game."
Boston's power play cashed in for the second time on the night to tie the score at 3, 2:20 into the third period. Bruins winger Brad Marchand won a battle for a rebound of a Joe Corvo point shot with Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips and flipped the puck in past Anderson.
Ottawa has now lost four in a row after a great start to the 2012 calendar year. The Senators finished January 8-5-1.
"Satisfying is kind of a tricky word because at the beginning of a month if you were to say 8-5-1 at the end of it, you'd say, 'OK, that's a good month.' But at the same time I think we were 8-1-1 at one point," said Turris. "So, you're always trying to get better and work for that next game and the next win. We just weren't able to take advantage at the end of the month here."
The Bruins had beaten the Senators twice prior this season by a combined score of 10-5. So the one-goal victory proves that Ottawa might be closing in on the defending Cup champs.
"They're a very young, explosive team. They have a lot of skill up front. They have a great offensive couple D-men on the back end there," said Seidenberg. "We've won the last few games, but we just have to be a little bit smarter and more focused."