OTTAWA - A five game-winning streak. A game-winner from a future hall-of-fame captain. Two of the top four scorers in the NHL. Arguably the best goaltending duo in the league.
The Boston Bruins have a lot to be thankful for these days.
The Black & Gold head into Thanksgiving as the top team in the National Hockey League. After a sluggish start in Ottawa, the Bruins came through in the third period as they have seemingly all season to claim a 2-1 win on Wednesday night.
"We weren't sharp early on," said head coach Bruce Cassidy. "Back-to-back games, we've been fine over the years. But today for whatever reason, we weren't clean with the puck early on. They bottled up the neutral zone - something we've seen of teams in the past here in Ottawa.
"It took us a while to sort of get to our game where we could get through there and establish a little something. Eventually we got there, and it took everybody. We found a way to win."
Video: Cassidy Speaks To Media Following 2-1 Win in OTT
For the second consecutive night, the Bruins netminder stood tall in the early going to keep the B's in the game.
"We gave us a chance. Jaro stood strong yesterday," said Rask. "Got obviously, they scored eight goals but they had a lot of chances and shots. Today I think in a back-to-back scenario, you're just trying to give your team a chance - especially in the beginning and not let the game get out of hand and it worked out."
Over the two games, the duo combined to turn aside 69 of 71 shots.
"Our goalies have been good all year," said Cassidy. "We're not worried about them, they're solid. The best tandem in the league in our opinion. I'm sure there's others out there that are very close but we feel that no matter who we put in there every night, we're going to get good goaltending. Very rarely do they have an off night. Tuukka was certainly our best player, certainly early on. He made the saves he needed too and a couple late.
Video: BOS@OTT: Rask turns away Tierney on the rush
Rask credited the sound defending on second chances for his lockdown performance.
"I saw most of the shots, so it was good," said Rask. "I think our rebound - clearing the rebounds has been very good lately and guys boxing out has been good. Whenever that happens, it makes our job so much easier."
Video: Rask Speaks With Media After 2-1 Win in OTT
The Captain Comes Through
With the game tied up late in the third period, the Bruins captain provided the offense to seal the victory over his former team.
"I think we controlled the puck down low," said Chara. "We made a strong play and then obviously a very simple play similar to one that happened in the first period. This one I decided to shoot and it was nice to get that go-ahead goal."
Last seaon, Zdeno Chara had five goals in 62 games. The Bruins captain has already matched that total hrough the first 25 contests of the 2019-20 season.
"If he's got that time, he can just blast," said Rask. "He can shoot it. That's as wide open as he's been in a while I think."
Video: BOS@OTT: Chara claps a heavy slap shot into twine
Respect For Zee
A nice moment occurred at the first TV timeout of the game, with the Ottawa Senators calling for the applause of the crowd in honor of Zdeno Chara's recent 1500th game played.
"It's a class act," said Chara. "It was something I didn't expect. Usually I get a little heads up before the game but it's such a overwhelming reaction."
Video: Chara Speaks After Scoring Game Winner in OTT
Chara played four seasons in Ottawa from 2001 - 2006, and remembers his time there fondly.
"My time in Ottawa was always - I only have great memories," said the 42-year-old. "The fans are so supportive of this team and this city. I made a lot of friends, close friends that I'm still in touch with today. I can't thank them enough. Every time I play for this team, they show 100% support and they're great fans."
Marchy's Keeps It Going
After the B's had fallen behind in the third period, it was little surprise that it was Brad Marchand provided a spark. The 31-year-old winger took a nice feed from Anders Bjork in front and used a silky hesitation move to open up the netminder before slipping the puck five-hole.
"It was great patience by Brad," said Chara. "That's why he's obviously our leading scorer. He's our engine up front and he showed why he's so good."
Video: BOS@OTT: Marchand goes five-hole for equalizer
Marchand leads the Bruins with 43 points. After setting a career high with 100 points last season, he is now on pace for 137 points.
Another Bruins Debut
Making his Bruins debut, forward Brendan Gaunce made an immediate impact by collecting the primary assist on Chara's winning goal.
"It was a good forechecking shift from our line," said Gaunce. "Nordy [Joakim Nordstrom] found me in the middle and I felt some pressure from my backside so I assumed that my guy was coming down from Zee's point so he was in the right spot, and obviously he hammered it home."
Video: Gaunce Speaks to Media After Bruins Debut in OTT
Gaunce has appeared in 117 games previously with the Vancouver Canucks over the past four seasons.
"He's hard on pucks," said Cassidy. "If he gets there first, he'll protect it. He can make plays. It was a great play to Zee when he has time. It's just the pace of this league, it's just different than the American Hockey League. Guys are stronger so you have to bring that mentality."
Video: Marchand, Chara propel Bruins to 2-1 win