When it was all over, it was pretty clear the Bruins hadn’t played their best brand of hockey.
Coming off a week-long road trip that saw them sweep three games from the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, the Bruins didn’t quite have the same legs in a gritty, defensive battle against the Ottawa Senators. The B’s ended up winning ugly in overtime with a Patrice Bergeron tipped shot that Robin Lehner actually knocked over the goal line in the 2-1 overtime win at TD Garden.
It was Bergeron’s second goal in four games, and only became the game-winner after video replay showed the puck sliding ever so slightly over the goal line.That handed the Bruins their fifth win in a row and keeps them piling up points.
It was a fully appropriate ending given the Bruins’ tired legs and unflagging spirits with a stubborn Ottawa club refusing to budge an inch. Boston just didn’t have access to that extra gear that’s present most nights during the season, and it may happen more often as they prepare for three games in four days.
“I thought it wasn’t our best game... I thought our legs were kind of heavy,” said Chris Kelly. “We weren’t first to pucks on a lot of the plays but Tuukka [Rask] played really well and bailed us out when we needed him.
[The Senators] played a good solid hockey game throughout the course of the night. They don’t give you much. [The shot totals] might be a little deceiving, but they don’t give you many scoring chances. They wait for their opportunities and play a good system.”
The Senators forced the Bruins to the perimeter with most of their shots, which meant very few scoring chances as three or four Ottawa skaters were retreating as soon as the puck started moving back in their direction. So it was a give-and-go with Dougie Hamilton and Nathan Horton that led to a fanned Horton shot that fooled Lehner for one Boston goal, and then Bergeron tipping a Dennis Seidenberg blast as the game-winner in overtime.
For the Senators, a rare penalty kill mistake by Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara allowed a power play odd man rush that eventually turned into Jim O’Brien jamming the puck past Tuukka Rask amid a mad net-front scrum.
None of the three goals will ever be described in picturesque terms, but that went right along with the game’s mucking style of play.
“At the end of the day it’s about results. We know we’re a better team and we know we can play better. We know we didn’t have our A-game, so you turn the page and say well done as far as battling through it,” said Claude Julien. “I’m certainly not criticizing our team for how they played because they still battled through. We didn’t have our legs. It’s not because they didn’t want to, but certainly Saturday’s game I’m looking for our team to be better. Hopefully we’ll have gotten into our groove at home.”
It’s also expected that 48 hours after a tight defensive match with the Senators, the Bruins will have their emotion and energetic bounce back for a weekend home series against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. Ugly goals and pretty goals will be equally accepted, but more importantly, the Black and Gold should have their skating legs after a cement shoe special that was barely good enough against Ottawa.