Talking Points: Bruins 5, Senators 3

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Talking Points: Bruins 5, Senators 3

KANATA, ON The Bruins won the battle and made a statement against an Ottawa Senators team nipping at their playoff heels.

But it may have come at a cost.

The Bruins won a tight 5-3 grudge match over the Senators at Scotiabank Place that included a furious third period comeback and a potential injury to Johnny Boychuk after he was steam-rolled by Chris Neil.

The victory gives the Bs a five-point lead in the Northeast Division over Senators the with three games in hand, and ended Ottawas four-game winning streak in the process.

The Sens started out quickly with an Erik Karlsson bomb to get the early lead, but Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand responded with answers later in the period to push the Black and Gold back in front. Carter Camper added his first NHL goal in the second period to push things to a two-goal lead thats normally as good as gold for the Bs.

David Krejci notched another tally in the third period that seemed to be just the insurance the Bruins needed, but then Ottawa woke up. Neil crashed into Boychuk with a clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit when the Bs defenseman was caught with his head down, and then Zdeno Chara dropped the gloves with Neil.

That seemed to spark the Senators, who got a pair of Daniel Alfredsson strikes from perimeter shots to inch perilously close to the Bruins. Bergeron eventually salted it away with an empty net goal in the final minute, but it sets the stage for another hard-fought contest against the Sens on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

GOLD STAR: Patrice Bergeron knocked down a pair of goals, finished with a game-high nine shots on net and did yeomans work in his 19:29 of ice time for the Bruins. With injuries to key players, other top tier players have needed to step up for the Black and Gold, and Bergeron did exactly that in a playoff-style game for the Bs. The first goal was particularly important given that it was a response to Ottawa scoring less than two minutes into the game. Bergerons rebound score on a Zdeno Chara shot brought the momentum back to Boston.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara assisted on a pair of goals and enjoyed his third straight strong game while snapping out of his February mini-funk. It was Chara's big shot that set up Patrice Bergeron's goal to get the Bruins off and running in the first period, and he was otherwise solid in 22:54 of ice time for the Bruins. Perhaps better than any of this he stood up for his defensive partner, Johnny Boychuk, when he dropped the gloves with Chris Neil after the Senators car-bomb forward trucked over Boychuk at the beginning of the third period. Chara showed everything that goes into the package of an elite defenseman in a big game that the Bruins needed to have.

BLACK EYE: Finesse players shouldnt try dipping their toes into the dirty side of hockey. Thats exactly what Kyle Turris did when he left his skates and targeted an elbow at the head of Joe Corvo in the third period that drew a two-minute boarding call, but could get Brendan Shanahan dialing the Ottawa center up on line one. The Bs defenseman was okay after falling to the ice holding his head after impact, but the Turris play is exactly the kind of play the NHL is trying to wipe out: targeting the head as the primary point of contact. No place for that in an otherwise entertaining, intense hockey game. NESNs Jack Edwards called it a chicken hit. Im not going that far, but Turris should know better.

TURNING POINT: It wasnt quite the turning point in the game, but there was no mistaking the swing in momentum when Chris Neil turned himself into a human missile while planting Johnny Boychuk. The Bruins got the next goal, but the Senators suddenly came to life. The momentum pull got even stronger when Neil and Zdeno Chara went toe-to-toe following the heavy hockey hit, and Neil lived to tell about it after absorbing a couple of hard shots from the Bs captain. But in the end the Bruins had built up too much of an advantage for the Senators to hurdle over. It will be interesting, however, to see if the Ottawa confidence from Neils hit carries over into Tuesday nights game in Boston, and if Johnny Boychuks status for that game is affected.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25-0-0 the Bruins record when holding a lead headed into the third period even if things got a little dicey in Ottawa after a pair of Daniel Alfredsson strikes.

QUOTE TO NOTE: Ive definitely been dreaming about that. Practicing in the backyard or on the ice by yourself youre always of that first NHL goal. I saw the puck go in, saw everybody celebrating and it didnt even really hit me until I got back to the bench. Pretty cool. Bruins rookie Carter Campers first NHL goal in the second period that helped the Bs cause in their 5-3 win.

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.


 

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre