The Boston Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in a tense, hard-hitting Saturday night hockey contest at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.
According to his Head Coach Dave Lewis, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
was huge in net and made all the difference for the Bruins in the one goal Boston victory with 35 saves.
“Timmy Thomas was absolutely ‘big’ when he had to be big,” said Lewis after the game, which raised the Bruins record to 3-5-1. “He made saves early on and some big saves late.”
Looking to break their two-game losing streak, earn enough points to vacate the Northeast Division cellar and work their way back into the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race, the new look Boston Bruins carried a tremendous amount of pressure into only their ninth game of the young campaign since struggling from the onset of the schedule.
Ottawa, on the other hand, were owners of a three game winning streak that included two wins against their provincial rival Toronto Maple Leafs and had hoped to continue their gaudy offensive numbers against the Black & Gold as they had scored 21 goals in their last three contests.
During those three contests the Senators defense did pretty well, too, as they had only allowed 5 goals in those three blowout wins (8-1 vs. New Jersey, 6-2 at Toronto, and 7-2 vs. Toronto).
But the B’s out “Ottawa-ed” Ottawa.
The first period got off to a surprisingly slow start for both squads, but the Garden’s balcony dwelling golden gods again started the “Let’s go Bruins” chant early and the Bruins were soon to respond.
Thomas, who had looked to rebound from the B’s last second loss versus the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, was absolutely bulletproof in goal, while Captain Chara got the crowd fully into the contest when he made three consecutive bone jarring hits on his former Ottawa teammates.
And then he traded shoves (and some punches) with Ottawa’s Brian McGrattan for good measure.
Throughout the game, Boston displayed an aggressive posture similar to the “protect your turf” attitude that Head Coach Dave Lewis demanded from the team earlier in the week.
The attitude change did not produce any goals in the first two periods, however, and Wade Brookbank, the Bruins current purveyor of the sweet science, took on Ottawa’s Chris Neil in a one round hockey tilt in the Ottawa zone with less than four minutes remaining in the period.
Similar to the opening stanza, the second period was penalty marred and featured several minor penalties of the obstruction variety. And, unfortunately for the home fans, the penalty bug finally bit the B’s late.
With Ottawa on a two-man advantage, Senators forward Dany Heatley took a Jason Spezza feed at the side of the net and beat Thomas cleanly to the glove side to open the scoring at 17:21 of the second stanza.
It was a tic-tac-toe play, which put the Senators up 1-0 going into the second intermission.
The third period was virtually nondescript until the Bruins P.J. Axelsson beat Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber with a wrist shot high to the stick side following a defensive breakdown in the Senators end at 7:05.
Axelsson stole the puck from a Senators defender and walked in on Gerber to score the unassisted marker.
Then, with the Bruins on the powerplay, Chara delivered a laser beam to the back of the Senators net at 15:35 to put Boston up 2-1 with less than five minutes to play in the third period.
To ensure the win, Thomas barred the door, finished with 35 saves and earned his first win of the season and the Bruins went to the locker room with their third victory of the season.
“We knew that we had to be better overall,” said Chara post-game. “It wasn’t just the physical presence. It was with the puck and without the puck.”
“We’ve been struggling,” said P.J. Axelsson. “And to come back in the last period like that was big for us.
“I think that we played hockey for sixty minutes for the first time.”
“The boys protected their own turf,” said Lewis. “They did a tremendous job – to a man.”
The Bruins next play the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night at the TD Banknorth Garden and return to practice on Monday.