Ottawa 4, Boston 2
When: 7:30 PM ET, Monday, March 6, 2017
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
OTTAWA — (Special to Digital Sports Desk) — The Ottawa Senators started a three-game homestand by struggling to defeat the NHL’s last-place team, then concluded it with a pair of impressive wins over Eastern Conference contenders.
The Senators’ most recent victory was Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins at Canadian Tire Centre that put them four points between the second- and third-place teams in the Atlantic Division standings. Ottawa resides four points behind the first-place Montreal Canadiens.
“It was like a playoff game,” said Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who scored once and turned in a solid defensive effort on the team’s checking line. “That’s how we took it. That was our motivation. All the sacrifices we did, the blocked shots, put somebody in front of their goalie, good box out from our D, good first pass … all the little details made the difference tonight.”
Derick Brassard, Mike Hoffman and Alex Burrows also scored a goal for the Senators (36-22-6). Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand replied for the Bruins (34-26-6).
Craig Anderson made 25 saves while improving his record to 19-8-1. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots as he fell to 30-16-4.
“I thought they did a really good job standing in front and creating the screens,” Rask said. “That was one of the better teams I’ve faced in a long time. They get big bodies moving around and finding open space. We didn’t do a very good job defending a lot of times.”
The Senators set the tone when Brassard and Pageau scored on the team’s first two shots.
“We definitely didn’t get the start we wanted,” said Bergeron, who cut the deficit in half with 1:33 left in the first period. “They got the speed they want to have in the neutral zone and I thought our D zone was poor, too many holes there and they took advantage of that. When you put yourself down by two after less than 10 minutes, it’s definitely hard to get back in games.”
The difference was what Senators coach Guy Boucher called his team’s “push back”. Rather than allowing the Bruins to get momentum off the Bergeron goal, the Senators were all over the visitors in a scoreless second period, outshooting them 16-5.
“For me that’s a real great reload mentally from the goal against,” Boucher said. “I think right now what’s happening, our team has grown over the last months. The first 2 1/2 months, very often we’d see our team change its way when we got a goal scored against us, when we didn’t start the game the right way, when we got a penalty, we had a tendency to change what we do. Now we’re staying steady. It’s definitely paying off.”
There was only one power play in the first two periods — a chance with which Ottawa could generate nothing — before Hoffman and Marchand exchanged man-advantage goals 74 seconds apart in the third.
Another penalty was whistled on the Senators when Marchand’s stick snapped in half while taking a shot from the slot, but the referees reviewed the play and realized there was no slash, just a faulty piece of equipment, and overturned the original call.
“It seems like they’re just making up rules as they go now,” grumbled Marchand, when asked about the referral of fortunes. “I’ve never heard of that. It is what it is.”
When Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was asked if he knew referees could change their mind like that, he replied: “Cleary they can because they did.
“It was a funny call,” continued Cassidy, who now has an 8-3-0 record since taking over the job from the fired Claude Julien. “Through the course of the game most officials would tell you there’s times they look back and go, well, that was one I probably missed, but they don’t tell you until after the game or the next day.
“They played their game better than we played ours, in a nutshell. It was a little disappointing at times that we were that stubborn, but then we would get going a little bit. That was it to me. I thought they played their game better than we wanted to execute our plan.”
The Senators have now defeated the Bruins four times in a row, including twice this season. The teams have a pair of games against each other remaining
“We had four lines going and I thought we managed the game really well,” Brassard said. “We had some short shifts, really intense out there. If we keep doing that we’re going to be hard to beat.”
NOTES: Senators D Dion Phaneuf missed the morning skate because he was sick, but with a game time decision he was in the lineup. He wound up with two assists … Senators scratches were D Fredrik Claesson, D Jyrki Jokippaka and F Chris DiDomenico … The Bruins scratches were F Jimmy Hayes, F Matt Beleskey, D John Michael Liles and D Joe Morrow.