GOLD STAR: Zdeno Chara netted the game-winner for his fifth goal of the season when he stepped into a Brendan Gaunce pass and launched a shot past Anders Nilsson from the high slot. The 42-year-old also impressively logged 23:35 of ice time in the second night of back-to-back games on the road and had enough in the tank to make the game-winning play in the third period.
Chara finished with the goal, a plus-2 rating, two shot attempts, a hit and three blocked shots in a rugged game that got chippier and more physical as it went along. In a great moment, Chara was also treated to a video highlight reel of his best moments with the Senators early in his career and then an announced congratulations for getting to the 1500th game of his NHL career earlier this season.
BLACK EYE: The Bruins were fortunate to get the two points on Wednesday night. They really didn’t deserve to win the game based on the way they played the first 40 minutes against the Ottawa Senators. They managed just 10 shots on net in the first two periods, including a limp three shots on net in the first, and looked sluggish, lackadaisical and uncaring about the end result of the game after dropping eight goals on the Canadiens the night before in Montreal.
The Bruins showed up and scored a pair of goals in the third period to win the game and were fortunate that Tuukka Rask was on for the full 60 minutes. But they also are showing a tendency to play down to their competition and that’s a concern.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins could have really gone south when the Senators finally scored a goal in the opening seconds of the third period to snap a scoreless game. Anders Bjork couldn’t convert a 2-on-1 rush at one end and that turned into Thomas Chabot scoring on Tuukka Rask on a one-man defenseman rush at the other end of the ice.
Given the way the Bruins had looked in the first 40 minutes, one might have expected the Bruins to regress further as they did against the Detroit Red Wings on another sleepy night from the Black and Gold. This time around, though, Brad Marchand and the B’s responded with their own goal a little less than five minutes later, and then they almost immediately followed with the Chara game-winner. The Bruins had more shots on net in the third period (11) than they did in the first and second periods combined (10).
HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Tuukka Rask, who was one of the few Bruins players that showed up from beginning to end against the Senators. Rask finished with 33 saves, including a big 15 stops in the second period while the Bruins were going through the motions, and made a key stop on an Anthony Duclair screened shot in the closing seconds of the third period to protect the one-goal lead for the Black and Gold.
Rask played an energetic game between the pipes which makes sense given he was one of the few B’s players that didn’t take part in Tuesday night’s blowout win over Montreal in the back-to-back situation. He also serves as the biggest reason that Boston ended up getting the two points in a game where they basically only showed up for the final 20 minutes.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of points for Brendan Gaunce as a member of the Bruins after a backhanded feed to Zdeno Chara for the game-winning goal in the third period. Gaunce and Jack Studnicka both clocked points in their first games for the B’s during the successful two-game road trip through Montreal and Ottawa.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We’ve played good hockey. We’re not [at our ceiling as a team] yet, and I don’t think any team is that this point. You want your team playing a good sample size into the second part of the year to know where you’re really at. But we do have some really good players and that goes a long way toward winning hockey games.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN following the game when asked if the Bruins have hit the high ceiling of their potential considering that they hold the best record in the NHL right now.
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