Despite a lackluster first period by the Boston Bruins, in the end they were able to get a resounding win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. As with 43 previous games, the Bruins would find themselves playing from behind when Ryan Dzingel put the Senators on the scoreboard first at 12:31 of the opening frame.
This season Boston has now been able to garner the win in 21 of the 44 games in which they gave up the first goal, going 21-17-6. And while the Bruins certainly weren’t playing their best hockey in the first period, their experience with other teams scoring first has given them an inner belief that winning is absolutely possible. However, riding their first three-game losing streak of the season, as they came into Saturday night’s game, had some watchers questioning if they could pull out the win.
“We generally find out legs. That’s the good news,” stated Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy after the game. “I didn’t like our start. We do have to work to correct that, but I think our group is confident to know they can overcome that, so that’s part of it.”
While the lines were struggling to find their legs, fortunately for Boston, backup goaltender Anton Khudobin was determined to play strong—saving the team in a couple of situations, including a two-on-one in which he likely used muscles even he didn’t know he had to make the sprawling, diving save.
“He’s getting beaten on that blocker side a little bit lately, so it was good to see him make a – power play, made a big save, the two-on-one,” Cassidy shared. “And listen, when goalies make saves, the crowd’s into it; it energizes everybody. Guys feel like, well, the goalie just picked me up, I’m going to go out there and score some goals for him, and that’s just how it works. I thought their guy [Daniel Taylor] was very good in the first period as well, and eventually we got to him. That’s what you need to win.”
Two other keys to a continued success for the Bruins was their first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak getting back to playing their game. coupled with secondary scoring. Both of these were on display in the win over the Senators.
For the Bergeron line, it required a little tweak in their play—fixing their spacing and supporting each other. This wasn’t the first game in which they had deviated, but it was the first in the last few in which they were able to come back together and that culminated in Pastrnak getting the tying goal in the second period while Boston was on the power play. Tommy Wingels’ unassisted goal 51 seconds later had them leading for the first time in the game. Going into the second intermission, Danton Heinen’s 16th of the season—and what would be the game-winning goal—put the Bruins up 3-1. This season, when up two or more goals, the Bruins were 34-0-4 and they would continue that record of going undefeated in regulation with their win over Ottawa. Though Dzingel would get his second of the game and get the Senators back within one, Noel Acciari’s third-period breakaway and David Backes’ empty-netter would give Boston the 5-2 victory.
For Ottawa the final horn of the game signaled the beginning of their off-season, having finished in 30th place out of the 31 teams. Such a marked contrast to their stunning performance of last season, they must now reflect and then look within once each player resumes his training later in the summer.
For the Bruins, there is one more game—the weather-postponed game against the Florida Panthers. Having just dropped a 3-2 loss to Florida on Thursday and in need of the win if they wish to garner that first-seed position, they would do well to come out strong from the first puck drop. They will need the Bergeron line to play their game, mindful of their spacing and playing more like they did in the second period of Saturday’s game. Secondary scoring will also be important in the final game. Finally, Coach Cassidy announced that Tuukka Rask would be in net on Sunday, and he will have to play one of his best games. If the Bruins can pull together these three elements they should be able to contain the Panthers. It will all depend on how badly they want that first-seed position.