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Bruins start home-and-home with shutout of Senators

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- The Ottawa Senators' latest attempt to win consecutive games was no match for the Boston Bruins' recent superiority on home ice.

The Bruins ran their winning streak at TD Garden to eight games by defeating Ottawa 5-0 Friday behind a 33-save shutout by Tuukka Rask and two goals from Reilly Smith. The teams play at Ottawa on Saturday.

Boston (26-10-2) has a point in its past 15 home contests (13-0-2) after Jarome Iginla, David Krejci and Brad Marchand also scored. The point streak is their longest since they went 20-0-3 from Nov. 13, 1982-Feb. 28, 1983.

To earn this win, the Bruins had to shake off a lackluster first period and turn their game around over the final 40 minutes.

"I think our determination," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said about the change in his team's play. "We were making soft plays and weren't hard on the puck in the first period and we just talked about that, correcting that, and we seemed to get our feet moving and start making plays in the [offensive] zone and taking the puck to the net. And fortunately we were able to get rewarded for it."

Rask has four shutouts this season. The past three games he's started, the Bruins have scored 15 goals.

"The third [period] hasn't always been our strong part, and lately it's become that; you know, we really put teams away, and that's something you have to do," Rask said. "At times it drains you when the games are always 1-0 or 2-1 and you have to really be sharp up there. So it's good to get a little cushion there once in a while. Obviously it's not going to happen every time, but I'm just happy that the past couple of games it did."

Robin Lehner stopped 37 of 42 shots for the Senators, who are 0-3-1 in their past four road games. The Senators, who defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0 on Monday before the three-day Christmas break, have lost eight straight times following a victory.

"I don't know what to say," Lehner said. "Twenty good minutes and 40 bad ones."

The Senators felt like they let their goaltender down.

"We had a good first 20 minutes but got nothing out of it," Senators captain Jason Spezza said. "Then we don't play well at all, we left Robin out to dry there for the last 40 minutes, disappointing effort."

By the first official timeout in the second period, the Bruins, who were outshot 15-5 in the first period, had righted their ship. Boston outshot Ottawa 9-2 in the first 6:21 of the second, and forward Matt Fraser hit the post. The trend continued and Boston outshot Ottawa 20-8 for the period.

One of Boston's 20 shots counted more than the others because Iginla scored during a power play. Torey Krug's one-timer from the blue line hit Lucic in front of Lehner, but Iginla was in a fortuitous position for the rebound. Iginla hammered the puck from the right hash mark high to the glove side for a 1-0 lead at 16:29.

The goal was the 541st of Iginla's career, tying him with Hall of Famer Stan Mikita for 29th on the all-time list.

Along the way in the second, the Senators endured a bit of a scare when Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk hit Lehner in the midsection with a slap shot from the right dot. Lehner was attended to by the trainer and stayed in the game.

The Bruins doubled their lead 38 seconds into the third period. Krejci was perfectly positioned to one-time a rebound of a Matt Bartkowski shot off the glass, and the Boston center beat Lehner to the short side from just above the goal line for a 2-0 lead.

With the Senators pressing to try to get a goal, Marchand was able to tip the puck past Erik Karlsson at the Boston blue line and start the 2-on-1 that expanded the Bruins' lead to 3-0. Smith finished the rush with a one-timer at 10:20.

Smith scored his second goal with 3:34 remaining. The Bruins have now had at least one multigoal scorer in seven straight games, matching a franchise record that was set in 1929.

Marchand provided the final margin by scoring a shorthanded breakaway goal with 27 seconds left.

Each team took some time to find its legs in the first game since the break. By the time the first 20 minutes were through, it was apparent the Senators hit their stride before the Bruins. But everything changed after that.

"We got better," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought the first maybe three, four shifts in that first were OK and then we had a couple bad shifts and then they just kind of took it over. The momentum shifted their way for the rest of the period. But we came back in the second, obviously, a little bit more determined, better prepared mentally, I guess, and I thought from there on we played a real good game."

When the teams meet in Ottawa on Saturday, the Bruins will be without Dennis Seidenberg. The defenseman injured his lower body in a collision with Ottawa forward Cory Conacher late in the third period. Julien said Seidenberg was being evaluated and would not make the trip.

The Senators will be looking to rebound.

"The best part of the whole night is the fact that we get to play the same team again [Saturday] and you have a chance to respond," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "You have to come in and show that tonight's not the way it is, that we're a much better team and a much different team than the one that finished the game tonight."

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