The Bruins (37-20-3) had a slim, three-point lead over the Senators (32-23-8) in the Northeast division, and an Ottawa win would close the gap to one point heading into the TD Garden for Tuesday’s matchup.
But the Bruins refused to break and stretched their conference lead to five points (77) as they beat the Senators 5-3 at Scotiabank Place last night.
“I knew tonight was a big game because they’re in our conference – chasing us,” goaltender Tim Thomas
said, who made 27 saves on the night. “It was a big game for us – the end of the road trip we want to go home with a good taste in our mouth.”
It appeared as if the Bruins were going to skate to an easy 4-1 victory when David Krejci
scored halfway through the final frame, but the Senators charged back when Daniel Alfredsson scored a pair of goals less than two minutes apart in the final minutes.
But the Bruins prevailed, and forward Patrice Bergeron
scored an empty-netter, his second goal of the game, to seal the victory.
“I thought that we played pretty good game,” captain Zdeno Chara
said. “First period was pretty even, but we took the lead early on and I thought our second was really good. In the third we expected that push they had, so we tried to really focus and play a defensive game. We made some mistakes and they scored some goals, but fortunately we won, we got the two points and we finished off pretty strong on the road trip.”
After hits to Johnny Boychuk
and Joe Corvo
, the Bruins were drawing a little thin on defense. Then, Chara dropped the gloves with Chris Neil for his hit on Boychuk with seven minutes left in the game.
Both of Alfredsson’s goals came when Chara was in the box for his fighting major, but the B’s captain knew he had to stick up for his defensive partner.
“It was a clean hit, a big solid clean hit,” Chara said. “But of course, I’ll stick up for my partner. [Neil] did his part, and that’s part of the game. It was a clean hit, but that’s what we do – we take care of each other. That’s very unfortunate, but hopefully Johnny is okay. No matter what it is, you have to show respect for your teammates and do the job.”
Thomas talked about the flock of goals in the third period, and he said he expected it from the Senators.
“That’s what happens when you get [defensemen] that go out like Johnny and [Corvo], and Zdeno stepped up to stick up for Johnny,” Thomas said. “ [It] brings you a little bit short on the back end. And they put pressure on – they’re a good team and we know that. It’s a little bit closer, but the end result is what we wanted.”
It won’t be long until these two teams square off again, as the Senators visit the TD Garden Tuesday for the Bruins first home game in 14 days.
The Bruins will try to keep distancing themselves from the Sens, but Chara knows it won’t be easy and he expects a game similar to tonight’s.
“They’re coming out, they’re playing real well – playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of speed,” Chara said of his former team. “They’re top players are top players so for sure, we are aware of that. We have them back-to-back so for sure those games are big – they’re right behind us.”--- Anthony Gulizia