BOSTON – If the Boston Bruins resurrect their season going forward, they'll be able to point to the third period of Tuesday night's win against the Ottawa Senators as a turning point.
By establishing a consistent forecheck and getting balanced scoring with 13 different players recording points, the defending Stanley Cup champs, who sit last in the Eastern Conference, snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory against the previously red-hot Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
The Bruins snapped the Sens' six-game winning streak and improved to 4-7-0 on the season.
"I thought, for the most part, that was the most consistent effort that we've had so far this year," said Bruins center Chris Kelly, who was one of Boston's five goal-scorers. "There were still times that I thought we could've been a bit better, but we played well."
Frustrated by their inability to avoid one of the worst starts to a season by a defending Cup champion in recent times, the Bruins finally trusted in their system and individual abilities, and didn't let a little bit of adversity slow them down.
First, they fell behind 1-0 just 5:19 into the game on a goal that deflected off Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid's body as he was trying to bat the puck out of the air. Then the Bruins squandered a 3-2 third-period lead to the team with the most last-stanza goals this season 5:04 after the second intermission. It took just 1:37 for Johnny Boychuk to put the Bruins back ahead for good.
"I mean, that is something that we've talked about -- that we've put ourselves in that situation and we were the only ones who could get out of it," said Bruins center Patrice Bergeron when asked about desperation. "And we had to use, I guess, all the frustration and all that stuff that we've been feeling and use it to your advantage instead of getting down on yourself. And that's the only way you can get out of those things. And you know what? It's only one game. So we're happy, but we have a long ways still."
The third-period comeback had been a staple of the Senators' 7-5-0 start, including their six-game winning streak. But they couldn't get over the hump against the Bruins. After Boychuk's blast from the right point beat goaltender Craig Anderson (36 saves on 41 shots) inside the left post, Daniel Paille added an insurance goal 37 seconds later.
"A cat's got nine lives, so maybe we used up a few of those in these couple of games," said Anderson. "We're learning still; we've just got to learn how to play and get the point. When you're not feeling great and you get the game 3-3, you've got to find a way to shut the other team down and just get a point."
Added forward Nick Foligno about the snapped streak: "It stings. We were feeling good about our game. We just got away from the things that we were doing really well tonight. They're a good team over there. They're fighting for wins and they're desperate and they showed that tonight, we just didn't have that answer back. We kept it pretty tight, 3-3 … they just seemed to be able to capitalize on those chances."
Foligno was credited with that first Ottawa goal before Milan Lucic's power-play score tied the game 7:12 into the game. Sixteen seconds later, Ottawa jumped back in front on a goal in front by Stephane Da Costa off a shot that deflected off Bruins defenseman Joe Corvo's and was passed to the top of the crease by Foligno.
Bergeron and Kelly scored second-period goals for the Bruins. Bergeron cashed in from the slot on a feed by Tyler Seguin at 4:21 of the second. Kelly buried a one-timer from the high slot after linemate Rich Peverley skated into the zone, circled the net and then dished the puck out to his center.
"I think it was a great play by Rich and I think everyone was kind of focused on him because he entered the zone with so much speed," said Kelly. "It was a great pass by him and I happened to find that area up in the high slot."
Kelly's dish set up Boychuk for the game-winner, his the defenseman's first score of the year.
"I was just thinking hit the net because I kept missing the net before that. I think the previous two shots I had [missed the net]," said Boychuk.
The Bruins had scored just five goals in their previous three games. To match that total in just one night was a credit to their determination.
"I think it's, again, a lot of open nets we kind of missed on, and that's what you go through when you're trying to find your way," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "I guess if we keep playing the way we did tonight and win hockey games, that confidence comes back, and those end up being in the back of the net instead of missing it. It's just a matter of battling our way through it.
"Tonight was a start, and it has to carry over to next game. That's where we have to be determined to want to bring those kind of efforts with us in the next game [against division-leading Toronto], which is going to be as tough a team to play right now as any."