Boston, MA – The Boston Bruins took a pivotal two points out of a 4-0 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon at a sold out TD Banknorth Garden. P.J. Axelsson, Shane Hnidy, Marco Sturm and David Krejci tallied the goals for the B's, while Shawn Thornton chipped in with two scuffles.
The game was the Bruins last home game against the Senators for the season, as well as their last home game before a week-long road trip that would bring them back to Boston in time for their final game of the regular season.
The B’s won their last two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring 10 goals in two games, which head coach Claude Julien said gave the team a much-needed confidence boost that they hoped to keep with them in this final stretch.
"Our confidence in scoring goals was pretty low until these last couple of games,” he said, “so I guess the biggest task right now is to remember how we did it.”
The game-time performance is, of course, a central factor to success, but the team’s off-ice demeanor is also important at this time of the year.
“What people see out on the ice is one thing, but what they don’t see inside the dressing room is another,” he said. “We’ve had great leadership.”
The Senators pressed hard from the puck drop, forcing a back-and-forth battle for the puck.
Jason Spezza entered the penalty box at 6:26 for hooking, giving the B’s a chance to control the game with a man advantage. While they failed to get a goal, the power play created some good pressure in Ottawa’s end of the rink.
Boston found themselves with another man advantage after Chris Neil was called for interference at 11:50. It was later announced that Jeremy Reich, the victim of Neil’s shot, sustained a head injury and would not return to the game.
“It’s just a head injury, and he’s making the trip,” said Coach after the game. “He’s going to probably be a game time decision tomorrow, see how he feels.”
The power play once again kept the puck by the Senators net for most of the two minutes, but Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber refused to let anything by.
A scrum around the Boston net with just under six minutes remaining had Thomas searching for the puck amid a flurry of sticks and skates, but he found it and covered it up just in time.
With about four minutes remaining, Thornton and Neil dropped their gloves in front of the Ottawa bench. After some well-placed punches, Thornton tackled Neil to the ground, and the referees pulled them apart.
“We know what he did to step up and protect our players because there were a couple of questionable hits there,” said Coach. “He stepped up and did his job that way. Also, what hopefully didn’t go unnoticed is that he played a solid game too.”
Both earned five-minute fighting majors.
Glen Murray gave Ottawa their first power play of the game when he was called for slashing at 18:29, which give the Sens a brief power play to start the second period as well.
Both the shot count – 11 for the Bruins, 9 for the Senators – and the score – tied at zero – remained even as the first 20 minutes ended.
A shot by Axelsson from the left face-off circle slipped past Gerber 4:24 into the second period to put the Black & Gold in the lead, 1-0.
Daniel Alfredsson was called for tripping at 6:49, giving the Bruins another power play.
Sturm made use of the man advantage and put the B’s up 2-0 by pushing the puck behind Gerber at 7:55, despite an Ottawa player’s attempt to stop the shot by diving into the net.
After a questionable Ottawa hit on Mark Stuart, Thornton proved ready for another fight -- this time against Cody Bass -- around the 10-minute mark. The hard-hitting Bruin quickly pinned Bass to the ice, and it took a few seconds to pry the players apart.
“It wasn’t anything big,” said Stuart. “I just didn’t see him coming, and he just kind of caught me off guard.”
The pair earned four minutes of penalties each – two for roughing and two for charging – at 9:49. Thornton entered the box, but Bass went down the hallway to the Senators locker room.
Aaron Ward joined Thornton after being called for roughing at 10:49.
The remainder of the period was less eventful, and although Ottawa continued to give the Bruins defense and Thomas a workout, the Bruins headed to the locker room leading 2-0.
But Ottawa would start the final 20 minutes on another power play, as Ward went to the box once again with 36.8 seconds left in the second, this time for holding.
That didn’t stop Hnidy from launching the puck over Gerber’s glove and into the net just 1:13 into the final period, making the score 3-0 Bruins with the shorthanded goal.
“Obviously, Hnidy’s goal was a big one,” said Coach Julien. “I said before the third period started that if we got that next goal it would be a big nail in their coffin, and sure enough, we got that from Hnidy.”
Jesse Winchester shoved Milan Lucic into the boards in front of the Ottawa bench, which prompted a short scuffle as the B’s stuck up for their teammate and landed the Senator in the box for boarding at 11:58.
Thomas continued to hold strong in net, making a nice pad stop with 5:11 remaining to keep the shutout.
Krejci scored a nifty goal late to make the final score 4-0 Boston.
“He’s a playmaker and that’s what we need from him,” said Zdeno Chara. “[Tonight,] he was really patient with the puck. He set up guys with good scoring chances. He scored a goal himself, and he’s playing well for us.”
In the locker room post-game, the team echoed Coach’s pre-game sentiments about another full-team effort that went into the win.
“The way guys are stepping up, [and] it’s incredible to watch as a teammate,” said Thomas. “The way Hnidy stepped up and got an important goal for us tonight, I think that broke their back and put them over the edge. And Krejci has just been fantastic the past three days. And it’s not just him.
“Everybody’s doing it. Guys are stepping in like [Matt] Lashoff, and the whole defense of course is playing great,” he continued. “It’s fun to be a part of.”