BOSTON – The Bruins needed a period to shake off the Christmas cobwebs, but took care of business against an Ottawa Senators team that’s played lackluster hockey for the first three months of the season.
After getting outshot in the first period by a 15-5 margin, the Bruins used a second period Jarome Iginla power play score and a David Krejci insurance marker to take a 5-0 decision over the Senators at TD Garden. Tuukka Rask kept the Bruins in it during the rough first 20 minutes, and then the B’s poured it on by leveling 20 shots at Robin Lehner in the middle stanza.
The B’s first PP of the game produced when Iginla collected the rebound of a Torey Krug point shot, and pushed the loose puck past Lehner. That was the Bruins’ tenth power play goal in the month of December, which has got to be their most productive month on the man advantage in a long, long time.
Krejci followed in the first minute of the third period after a Matt Bartkowski dump attempt took a wild bounce off the end boards to the B’s center, and he flipped the puck past Lehner.
Reilly Smith finished things off with his team-leading 13th goal of the season after breaking out with Brad Marchand on a 2-on-1 that ended with Smith sweeping the puck past Lehner from the right circle. Smith and Marchand then added garbage goals on top of it to settle out the final score when it really appeared that Ottawa basically folded on trying to win the game.
Rask made 33 saves in all in picking up his fourth shutout of the season, and has once again picked up his play since getting pulled in the road game vs. Vancouver a couple of weeks ago.
GOLD STAR: Reilly Smith with two goals and eight generated shot attempts to lead the Bruins in both categories, and finished with a plus-3 rating as Boston’s most consistent offensive threat of the net. Smith now leads the Bruins with 14 goals, and it’s difficult to envision the B’s coaching staff breaking up the Smith/Brad Marchand/Patrice Bergeron line now that it’s gaining some serious momentum. Smith might be playing slightly over his head, but there’s really no way of knowing with a 22-year-old kid that’s just scratching his NHL potential.
BLACK EYE: Erik Karlsson finished with a minus-2 in 26:05 and didn’t register much of an offensive presence despite four shots on net. The Senators looked far too soft giving up chances in the defensive end from the second period on, and seemed to give up in the waning minutes of the third period in a game that was 1-0 entering the final 20 minutes of play. There are serious issues with the Ottawa Senators. At least it appears that there are according to these eyes, and Karlsson’s one dimensional play is one of those issues. Hard to believe this is the guy that won the Norris Trophy no matter how eye-popping the offensive numbers are.
TURNING POINT: Tuukka Rask made a big save on Clarke MacArthur on the very first shift of the game in the first period, and then went on to make 15 saves in the opening 20 minutes while the Bruins cleared out the cobwebs. That effort from the B’s goaltender kept Boston in the game, and allowed them time to wake up and dominate while outshooting the Sens 37-18 for the rest of the game. The 33-save effort was Rask’s 4th shutout of the season, but it was the first period that paved the way for the win.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brad Marchand continues to show that he’s turned a corner over the last few weeks. He hit a post in Boston’s best – and only – scoring chance in the first period, and then he notched a pair of points in the third period to go along with a plus-three rating. The 2-on-1 odd man rush with Reilly Smith that led to his first goal of the night was the backbreaker for Ottawa, and his shorthanded strike added insult to injury. Best of all: Marchand had only one giveaway and three takeaways in the game as he’s pressuring the puck rather than being pressured.
BY THE NUMBERS: 34 – the percent of success rate for the B’s power play during the month of December, when they’ve reeled off a 10-for-29 stretch on the man advantage in nine games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I think this is the best [the power play] has been since [Marc Savard] has been gone. It's nice to see. It's nice to have it as a weapon.” –Milan Lucic on a B’s power play that ranks among the NHL’s top five for the first time in a long, long time.