BOSTON - The Bruins know the type of game Ottawa likes to play.
Entering Thursday night's matchup, Boston was winless against the Senators this season, having been frustrated by Ottawa's grind-it-out, muck-it-up style for much of the year. And with so much on the line in this crucial divisional showdown, there was reason to expect more of the same.
But the Bruins appeared to have figured things out early in the teams' final regular-season meeting. Boston landed 15 shots on goal in the first period and grabbed a lead on Drew Stafford's power-play tally midway through the opening frame.
A number of chances to extend the lead followed - missed opportunities the Bruins would later regret.
"We had good energy early and like a lot of times in this building, we've been good," said Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team was without the suspended Brad Marchand. "If we could have extended the lead with some of those opportunities we might have saw a different game - force them to open up a little bit - but we didn't and they were able to get back in it and that's their type of game."
Ottawa took advantage, buckling down and shoring up their patented neutral zone trap. The Senators allowed the Bruins just 10 shots for the remainder of regulation and left TD Garden with a 2-1 shootout victory to sweep the season series. Kyle Turris notched the lone goal of the shootout.
"It's frustrating when you're not taking care of the puck in the neutral zone, they just kind of sit back," said Stafford. "Those games, it's like a chess match. It's kind of boring and slow, wait for a mistake and they capitalize. In the second period there we got a little bit away from our game as far as getting through the neutral zone.
"This one could've gone either way. It's frustrating not to get the second point but at the same time we're definitely familiar with them now and whatever happens going forward we'll prepare the right way."
Video: Condensed Game: Senators @ Bruins
The Bruins - who have now picked up points in seven straight games - finished the season 0-3-1 against Ottawa. The Senators, who clinched a playoff berth with the victory, now sit one point ahead of Boston in the Atlantic Division standings, meaning if things remain the way they are now the teams will meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Our record of 0-4 doesn't really tell the real story, I think," said David Krejci. "Other than the first game in their building, I think we could have gotten at least two games for sure, especially at home.
"So, if it happens that we play them, I feel confident in this team that we can get the job done. But, we still have a game to play on Saturday and next week is next week."
Stafford opened the scoring with his second goal in as many games. After a strong play by Zdeno Chara to keep the puck in at the point, the captain found Stafford down by the goal line.
The winger circled the net and jammed a backhander through Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson for a power-play goal and a 1-0 Bruins advantage.
"Just trying to get it to the net there, " said Stafford. " The puck was bouncing around quite a bit, so I just tried to get a handle on it and was able to swing it around and get a little bit of a lucky break.
"We had some great chances, some great looks. Frankie [Vatrano] had a couple point-blankers. Anderson made some great saves on him. Tough one, but I thought it could have gone either way tonight."
Video: OTT@BOS: Stafford nets PPG with slick wraparound
Alex Burrows tied the game with a slapper from the slot at 7:37 of the second period, allowing Ottawa to settle into a more defensive game plan. With a spot in the postseason on the line, and their captain, Erik Karlsson, sidelined by injury, the Senators upped their urgency.
"Listen, they're trying to get a playoff position," said Cassidy. "They're playing to their strengths, defending the neutral zone with numbers. We clearly could have executed better. We tried to put some things in place, but they weren't working. Not that it was coming back down our throat like it did in Ottawa a lot, but we just ended up icing a lot of pucks - we just misfired.
"At the end of the day, if we're cleaner there we probably get a few more attack situations, opportunities to score a goal. Having said that, I thought we defended well enough to win, but we need a little better finish around the net."
Video: OTT@BOS: Rask absorbs Wingels' lengthy one-timer
Despite being frustrated by Ottawa's defensive structure, Boston was pleased to at least pick up a point in their first overtime/shootout loss since Jan. 18 against Detroit.
"We played a good game," said Tuukka Rask, who made 25 saves. "Shootout loss that could go either way. I don't think we're going to hang our heads here. Obviously a loss is a loss, probably either team could've won this game. It's a shootout loss - take it and move on and try to get a win Saturday [against Washington] and enjoy a couple days."
Krug Leaves With Injury
Torey Krug left Thursday night's game early in the first period after playing just 2 minutes, 32 seconds. The team announced that the defenseman suffered a lower-body injury and would not return.
There was no further update on Krug's status after the game. Cassidy acknowledged the void Krug's absence left on the back end.
"These are the games where he sees the ice very well in the neutral zone and it only takes a few seams then all of a sudden you're in, and even on the forecheck spring a guy," said Cassidy. "He does it once or twice a game. He gives us opportunities to attack with numbers, keeps pucks live, even the offensive blue line play, he'll find a play or two."
Frank Vatrano returned from a upper-body injury after missing the last four games. The winger, who began the game on the left wing alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Backes, landed five shots on goal - all in the first period - and played 11 minutes, 48 seconds.
"He had some looks early," said Cassidy. "You talk about extending leads, he had opportunities to do that. Anderson made good saves on him…I thought he had his legs, he was working, trying to make a difference. No issues there."
News and Notes
Stafford's power-play goal gave the Bruins man advantage goals in five straight games, during which they have gone 5 for 10...Backes suited up for his 800th career game. He landed four shots on goal in 12 minutes, 38 seconds of ice time…Chara's assist gave him 2-2-4 totals in his last four games, with a 4-6-10 line over his last 14 contests.
Video: Bruins speak with media after a 2-1 loss to Sens