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At Sullivan's urging, Bruins get right to it and grab satisfying win over Ottawa

The Ottawa Senators had tried to send a message to the Bruins that they were going to make their lives miserable. In the season series, Boston had won the first game and tied the second, but it had dropped the last three meetings, getting outscored by Ottawa, 10-2.

So heading into last night, the Bruins had wanted to send a message of their own -- it was payback time. After all, they could face the Senators in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and they're a team the Bruins are trying to fend off in the race to capture the Northeast Division title.

They accomplished their mission, knocking off the Senators, 4-2, at the FleetCenter.

That, coupled with a loss by the Toronto Maple Leafs (tomorrow night's opponent), gives the Bruins a little bit of breathing room atop the division. They lead the Leafs by 3 points.

Coach Mike Sullivan has been harping on his club about its coming out sluggish and allowing the opponent to set the tone, particularly on home ice. That didn't happen in this one. Boston was sharp from start to finish.

"I thought that was one of the best 60-minute efforts we've had all year," said Sullivan, not prone to overstatement. "We played against a really good hockey team that played hard. I thought our guys from the drop of the puck were ready to play."

Rookie netminder Andrew Raycroft, who made 28 saves on the way to his 27th victory, said it was a significant confidence booster.

"I think it's important for these teams to know they're going to be in a battle with us," said Raycroft. "We didn't really play well the last two times up in Ottawa and the last time back here, and they kind of took it to us. We had that in the back of our minds. We know how it works and we wanted to come out with a good effort just to put it in their minds if we have to play them."

Travis Green (four goals in four games) potted his 10th of the season at 4:45 of the first. Dan McGillis dished a pass to Green, who skated through center ice and teed up a slapper from the blue line. His blast hit Ottawa defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn and caromed off the back boards to the left of netminder Patrick Lalime. The puck bounced out in front and Lalime mishandled it, and Green swooped in and jammed it one-handed into the net at the right post.

Boston increased its lead to a pair at 7:03 of the second when Sergei Samsonov completed a give-and-go with Glen Murray for his first goal since coming back from a rib injury (No. 12 of the year). With only defenseman Greg de Vries back, Samsonov dished a shot to Murray in the right circle. Murray passed it right back to him and he wristed the puck past Lalime to make it 2-0.

"It was a long shift," said Samsonov. "I was just trying to make sure we scored because there was no way I was coming back. Glen made a nice play."

The Senators battled back early in the third, with right wing Martin Havlat scoring on a power play when a Daniel Alfredsson shot caromed off Havlat's skate and past Raycroft at 3:07.

The Bruins responded at 6:53 with Murray's first goal in four games and second in 10. Murray, in the right circle, knocked down the puck as Lalime tried to fire it out and with the goalie out of the net, he fired his 30th of the season into the empty cage.

Ottawa center Jason Spezza made it a game again at 7:17 when he potted his 21st of the year, making it 3-2. Four seconds after a power play expired, the Bruins sealed it when defenseman Nick Boynton tallied his fifth of the year at 13:01. Sergei Gonchar dished a pass to Boynton, who one-timed it from the left point through a screen set by Mike Knuble.

It marked the second game in a row the Bruins scored four or more goals in a game. It's the first time they've had that much offensive production (nine goals) back to back since Feb. 17 and 19. "We want to keep winning and keep proving to these teams that we are legit," said Raycroft. "Everyone is kind of jockeying for that intimidation factor. You kind of want to go in as the team no one wants to play, and I think there are five or six teams who are kind of jockeying to get that title right now."

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