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Bruins shake off injuries, take lead against Senators

Persevere despite being down three defensemen, playing without center David Krejci in Game 1 win

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- Their names had gradually been crossed off as options: Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, David Krejci, Colin Miller. By the time the third period had started at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, the Boston Bruins were down three defensemen and Krejci, their No. 2 center -- and had just endured a period when they did not have a single shot on goal.

Not one.

And yet, after it was all over, the Bruins were the ones celebrating the win, the ones skating off the ice with a 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference First Round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a come-from-behind 2-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. 

The third period did not have to happen the way it did. After all, the Senators had already defeated the Bruins in all four games in the regular season. That could have gotten in the Bruins' heads, flummoxed them, given them leeway to lose. Instead, Boston won, courtesy of the 40th goal of 2016-17 for Brad Marchand, who was returning after a two-game suspension ended his regular season.

 

[RELATED: Complete Senators vs. Bruins series coverage]

 

"I've used the word resiliency a lot. I think it's become a bit of our middle name," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We've gone through quite a bit in game, and with some injuries, and we find a way. I think this group has got a lot of character, and it starts with the leadership.

"Sometimes you've got to look at the game plan a little differently, but in the end it's the players, they go out and play."

The Bruins had known they were going into the game without Krug and Carlo, who were injured against the Senators and Washington Capitals in the final two games of the season, respectively. Neither had traveled to Ottawa. Krejci was a late scratch because of an upper-body injury, even though he was expected to play. Miller was leveled on a knee-on-knee hit by Mark Borowiecki at 4:52 of the second period. He played one 24-second shift after that.

With those key members out, the Bruins were relying on players like rookie Charlie McAvoy, who was second on Boston in ice time (24:11) in his NHL debut. They had forward Sean Kuraly, who was a late addition to the lineup for Krejci, playing in his ninth NHL game.

Most importantly, though, they had their team. They had their will.

Even in the face of trouble.

"We didn't have a great second," Marchand said. "But we did a really good job of responding in the third. That's what you need. In playoffs, you have to be able to battle through that adversity. … We didn't have a whole lot. We were lucky to win that one."

The Bruins did not panic after the second period. As Cassidy said, the team was calm in the dressing room. The players were not rattled. They were not shaken. They had, instead, a resolve. Even though they hadn't had a shot on goal since the first period -- by Patrice Bergeron, with eight seconds remaining -- and would not have another until 4:41 into the third.

In the meantime, the Bruins had watched Bobby Ryan streak down the ice, beating Adam McQuaid and out-dueling Zdeno Chara for a rebound, as he energized the already frenzied crowd. He had given the Senators a 1-0 lead at 10:28 of the second period.

But 14 seconds after the Bruins got their first shot on goal since the first period, Frank Vatrano tied it 1-1, his wrist shot beating Craig Anderson at 4:55 of the third.

Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Vatrano buries wrister in playoff debut

It would remain that way until, with the time ticking down toward a possible overtime, Marchand and his line managed to spend nearly 50 seconds in the offensive zone, a shift that saw the Senators fail to clear the puck nearly half a dozen times. It ended with Marchand taking advantage with 2:33 left.

It ended with the Bruins overcoming.

"The message was this isn't Game 83. This is Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs," Cassidy said. "The urgency level goes up. The physicality goes up, doing the little things, winning pucks, and we just had to get back to our standard that we had played to, I thought, for the last two months."

They hadn't done the little things. They were nervous. They were not invested enough.

But they recovered. They persevered. They got a goal when they needed it, and outstanding goaltending from Tuukka Rask all night. They got another. They walked out of Canadian Tire Centre with a win, and with a sense that, even down four top players, even not at their best, they can defeat the Senators. They can win this series.

They proved it to themselves, and to everyone else.

Still, resolve and resiliency can only go so far. As Marchand said, "We're going to have to be much better than we were tonight. We can't expect to win this series playing like that."

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