BOSTON – There's been much speculation that newly acquired Jaromir Jagr might push either Milan Lucic or Nathan Horton off David Krejci's wing in the Boston Bruins' lineup.
When the Bruins needed it most Tuesday night, Krejci and his linemates came through and showed what they could do if they're kept together going forward this season. Horton scored on a rebound of a Lucic shot at 10:21 of the third period for the go-ahead goal in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
Krejci also assisted on the goal, which earned the Bruins a second straight win. Earlier in the day, they acquired Jagr from the Dallas Stars in a trade. But Krejci's line has now combined for six goals and eight assists in its last four games and the Bruins might want to consider keeping the trio that's been a staple for three seasons intact.
"I think the main thing for the three of us, I think we kind of got our confidence back and it's more of a positive frame of mind," Lucic said. "When things weren't going so well, we were kind of getting down on ourselves and down on each other, where it was a lot of negativity between the three of us. We love playing on a line with each other and we know what we're capable of when we're at our best. We definitely want to contribute, we want to be a big part of this team and it's slowly getting to where our game needs to be and where we want it to be."
Horton, who has goals in four straight games, also scored the game-winner on an assist by Krejci on Sunday night in Buffalo. The Bruins improved to 4-0-0 against Ottawa this season with each win coming by one goal. Boston leads the Senators, who were starting a seven-game road trip, by six points for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Making a rare second straight start, Anton Khudobin made a career-high 45 saves for Boston. Robin Lehner made 47 saves for Ottawa in a game that saw five goals scored on 97 shots.
"He's a battler, I think we all saw that. He's been working hard all year," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "When he's given the opportunity ... he's been pretty good. He's made a great combination with Tuukka [Rask], as far as this kind of schedule with what you've got to do with your goaltenders."
Boston's continuing domination -- the Bruins have won 13 of the last 14 meetings -- and the Bruins' ability to win one-goal games is frustrating the Senators.
"It [stinks] a little bit because I think we are right there but just that extra five percent that's missing," Lehner said. "You can't have a down period against this team, they take advantage of it. Today they scored two first-period goals, and they played very good. I think we came back and played better in the second and third. We have to play 60 minutes and unfortunately it wasn't enough today."
Ottawa tied the game in an unusual way early in the third period. After a scramble in front, the puck found its way out to Andre Benoit at the left point. The Senators defenseman fired a slap shot that deflected to the left side of the net and play went on. At the 2:46 stoppage, video review showed the puck had hit the back of the net before it rebounded out. The game was tied at 2-2 with 1:55 elapsed.
Horton broke the tie after some work by his linemates and a juicy rebound. Krejci won a battle down low and passed out to Lucic at the top of the left circle. Lucic got his shot through and Horton cleaned up the loose puck at 10:21.
There were three goals scored in a span of 1:41 early in the first period. Ottawa kicked off the festivities after Bruins failed on a couple of clearing attempts and Colin Greening wound up with the puck in front of the Boston net. He beat Khudobin at 2:48 for a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins responded at 3:28 on a tip by Krejci, who had just won a faceoff in the Ottawa zone. After Zdeno Chara rifled a shot toward the front, Krejci tied the game with the first Bruins' first-period goal in eight games.
It took the Bruins just 59 seconds to take the lead. After an Ottawa giveaway along the side wall, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand went to the net on a 2-on-1. Seguin's one-time into a yawning net put Boston ahead, 2-1, with 4:29 elapsed in the period.
The pace did not slow much in the second period but the goaltenders were up to the task, as Ottawa outshot Boston, 13-12, but the teams went to the room still separated by one goal. The Bruins endured a huge loss, however, about seven minutes into the middle period when Patrice Bergeron's head made contact with Greening's forearm or elbow while Greening was trying to shoot from the slot. Bergeron, who has had three concussions in his NHL career, left the game and did not return.
The Senators have one more chance to defeat the Bruins before the regular season ends.
"They're a very good team," coach Paul MacLean said. "They make it hard for you to beat them. They don't just let you beat them, and you have to work at it for the whole game. They make you execute and do things right, the whole game long. If you don't, they don't need much to make you pay."