As Seen on NESN Plus – The Boston Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, Friday night in Ottawa. Zdeno Chara and Phil Kessel scored the team’s two goals.
In that penultimate game of the Bruins regular season, their win effectively clinched a spot in the playoffs for the Black & Gold, also thanks in part to a Florida Panthers 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I’m really proud of the way we competed tonight, and we’ve got a lot of guys that are still banged up and worked through it,” said head coach Claude Julien. “The win obviously feels great, and being in the playoffs feels great. It was one of our goals.”
The players themselves, of course, were just as excited.
“This is big,” said an ecstatic Tim Thomas. “This is what we’ve been working for all year long, it’s what we all worked all last summer for, and it’s great it finally paid off.”
And, of course, everyone realized the Bruins reached their goal in the face of much adversity, especially in the last month.
“You recognize character, and, in the end, the cream rises to the top with character, and I can’t say enough about the guys this season,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “The last month and a half, it’s a grind, and it’s a test of character.”
Thomas made a big save under a minute in to keep the Senators at bay, despite some protest from the Ottawa players that the puck crossed the goal line and a short video review.
The B’s earned the first power play opportunity of the game at 7:35 when Shean Donovan was called for holding, but the Sens penalty kill kept the Bruins chasing the puck down ice, and goaltender Nathan Gerber stopped the few shots that did get by.
However, Donovan stepped out of the box, only to enter it again, this time for hooking at 9:53.
The power play didn’t last long, as Marco Sturm was called for high-sticking at 10:24, making it a four-on-four hockey game, but the game still remained tied at zero.
An uneventful second half of the period sent the teams to the locker rooms after 20 minutes with nary a goal on either side of the scoreboard.
Ottawa controlled the play early on, keeping the puck in the Black & Gold end of the ice and forcing Thomas to make save after save, but Boston got their chances and gave Gerber some work to do as well.
“Ottawa seemed to throw everything they had at us, they came out with tons of speed and kept going to the net hard,” explained Thomas, “but we just kept at it.”
Chara gave the Bruins the first goal of the night with a shot that went straight past Gerber at 6:39, making the score 1-0 Boston.
Just before the 11-minute mark, a potential game-tying shot by Glen Metropolit trickled past Gerber, just missing the open Ottawa net.
“He’s working so hard, and he’s just a little snake bitten right now,” said Shawn Thornton. “He’s getting so many chances and trying to capitalize, and they’re just missing so close.”
It was the second near-goal of the period, as an earlier shot by Kessel bounced off the goal post.
The Senators had a turn on the power play when Dennis Wideman went to the box for holding at 13:03, but it was hard to tell who had the advantage, as the B’s still managed to control the play for most of the two minutes.
Both Chara and Chris Neil were awarded penalties for roughing at 15:21 after a brief scuffle, and four-on-four play commenced once more.
A breakaway attempt by Thornton was stopped by Chris Phillips just before Thorton could take a shot, but no penalty was called because Phillips only hit Thornton’s stick.
The second period buzzer sounded with the B’s up 1-0 and leading 12-6 in shots.
A huge scrum in the Boston net had Thomas scrambling to find the puck as players piled on top of him about three and a half minutes into the final period.
“If a team does a good job in front of you, and you make the big saves when you have to, things are going to go your way,” said Coach Julien simply.
Kessel put the Bruins up 2-0 with a shot that went through a gathering of Ottawa players at 4:22.
But Antoine Vermette found a small hole at the side of the Bruins net, stuffing the puck between Thomas and the goalpost at 11:46 to give the Sens their only goal and make the final score 2-1 Bruins.
“It seemed like there were some turnovers at times, but we’re a team that worked so hard,” said Coach Julien. “The guys are getting second efforts, they’re standing in front of shots, blocking shots, and they deserve some credit for that.”
The Black & Gold have one final game tomorrow night at the TD Banknorth Garden against the Buffalo Sabres where they can earn another two points and climb even higher in the standings.
“It’s important that we get ready for tomorrow,” said Thomas, “but it’s important also to take a few minutes and really enjoy what we’ve accomplished, also.”
And while they’re focused on that game, they’re certain to be celebrating tonight.
1 - 0 BOS
2 - 0 BOS