– Through 60-plus minutes, the Boston Bruins attempted to crack Robin Lehner.
It had been a year to the day since the 21-year-old netminder had seen NHL action. Coincidentally, that start came in the same building, at TD Garden, when he shut out the Bruins 1-0.
For parts of Thursday night’s game, Lehner looked like he would again spell the B’s, but on a night when Boston’s offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders, despite racking up shots, it still managed to find enough to skate past the Senators 2-1 in overtime.
“They played a good solid hockey game throughout the course of the night,” said Bruins forward Chris Kelly. “They don’t give you much, yeah their shots might be a little deceiving but they don’t give you many scoring chances and they wait for their opportunities and play a good system.”
After giving up a few rebounds early, Lehner settled in and found his groove. Still, the Bruins threw everything they had at him, to the tune of 46 shots on goal.
Through it all, Lehner was able to limit Boston.
“It would have been nice taking it to a shootout and trying to win there,” Lehner said. “They got a tip at the end there and I couldn’t recover and that’s the game.”
Both goals Lehner allowed came on somewhat broken plays. The first, which gave Boston a one-goal advantage in the second, was on a one-timer that was misfired by Nathan Horton. After a nifty give-and-go with Dougie Hamilton in between the circles, Horton reached back to fire the puck on net, but missed most of it. Still, he got enough to slide the puck slowly through Lehner’s legs.
“The first one was kind of a misread, it was coming back slow,” Lehner said. “I thought my player in front was going to take it, so reflex for me is to go up.
“It went through and I couldn’t recover down. I need to work on that, I don’t like letting goals in like that.”
Ottawa would fight back, though, and knot the score at 1-1 on a power-play goal, breaking Boston’s streak of 27 consecutive penalties killed.
But Boston would respond to Ottawa’s tally, and up the intensity and physical play. The Senators matched them stride-for-stride, with Lehner doing his part to keep Ottawa in it.
Midway through the second, with his team still down a goal, Kelly dashed through center ice shorthanded with a loose puck sliding toward Ottawa’s goal. Lehner came sprinting out, and dove with his stick to knock the puck away from the streaking Kelly.
“We hung in there when we needed to,” said Sens defenseman Chris Phillips. “[Lehner] was there when we need it. You take what you can. We get a point and then we move on.”
The game would be decided by inches, as a Patrice Bergeron deflection made it through Lehner’s equipment, and trickled over the line to seal the game for the B’s.
“They are one of the best teams in the league for the past five or six years probably,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. “I thought we handled that pretty good. Especially as the game went on, we got better and better.
“I think the third period is our best one and we had some opportunities to win it and [Tuukka] Rask made some good saves for them as well. They get one good bounce at the end, which is the difference.”