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Bruins slick on the ice

Sturm notches hat trick, Bergeron tallies 5 assists as Boston destroys Ottawa

KANATA, Ontario -- Last night, whenever the puck was on Patrice Bergeron's stick, the Boston center lifted his head to see limitless options.

He could dish high to Zdeno Chara for blasts from the point. He could set up Glen Murray down low for one-timers. He could return pucks to Marc Savard, allowing Boston's top assist man to do what he does best. He could find linemate Marco Sturm. Or he could shoot on goal himself.

Bergeron had four shots last night, but five of his passes ended up in the back of the Ottawa net. The five-assist game was a career best for the 21-year-old, who combined with Sturm's three-goal effort and a 4-point night from Savard to power the Bruins to a 7-2 steamrolling of the Senators before a sellout crowd of 19,153 at Scotiabank Place.

It was Sturm's second career hat trick, with his first coming Dec. 23, 1998, when he lit up the Edmonton Oilers and current Boston goaltending coach Bob Essensa for a three-spot while skating for the San Jose Sharks.

"So many options were open," said Bergeron, who has 12 points in the last six games.

On Monday, less than an hour before the Bruins boarded their charter flight here, coach Dave Lewis had noted how his team can't help but win by close margins. Ten of its 15 previous wins had been by one goal.

But with Ottawa's defense springing more leaks than the Nixon Administration, the Bruins scored a rare laugher, improving to 3-0 against their Northeast Division opponent.

Six times, the Senators went on the power play. Six times, they were turned aside by the Boston penalty-killers and Tim Thomas (35 saves).

On their 10 power-play opportunities, the Bruins netted three goals, and sent shot barrages on both Ray Emery (five goals allowed in 40 minutes) and relief netminder Martin Gerber (four saves on six third-period shots).

"It was a must win," said Savard. "We weren't leaving without the 2 points."

As lopsided as the score turned out to be, the Senators could have made it into a battle. In the first period, a minute after Sturm opened the scoring, the Senators sprang loose for an odd-man rush.

Forward Antoine Vermette, skating down the right wing, pulled a pass between his legs to linemate Patrick Eaves. The ex-Boston College star cranked the potential tying shot, but Thomas, sliding from left to right, stuffed Eaves's shot and steered the rebound into the right corner for Paul Mara.

"Timmy stood on his head," said Chara, who was booed every time he touched the puck in his return to Ottawa. "He was making some unreal saves. That's what you need -- a goalie making saves at key times of the game."

Mara pounced on the puck and kicked off the rush along the right-side wall, pushing a pass forward to Murray. After a give-and-go with Savard, Murray ripped a wrister past Emery at 10:44, doubling Boston's lead and snuffing Ottawa's rally.

"It was only my second or third save of the night," Thomas said. "I was able to make the save and we go right down and score. I think it lifted the guys' morale on the bench."

After a Savard power-play one-timer gave Boston a 3-0 lead, things turned ugly in the second period. Ottawa tough guy Brian McGrattan ran Wayne Primeau and landed a head shot on the Boston center. In response, Primeau and Mara jumped McGrattan and touched off a melee in front of the Ottawa bench.

McGrattan and Primeau were both given roughing and 10-minute misconduct penalties, with the Ottawa forward drawing an additional two minutes for high-sticking. The two spent ample time barking at each other on the ice and from their seats in their respective penalty boxes. Both Lewis and Primeau expressed their concern over the high blow.

"It doesn't make any sense," Primeau, whose right eyebrow bore the marks of McGrattan's hit, said of the play. "We all know he's their tough guy. He doesn't have to do a thing like that to show that he's tough. I lost a lot of respect for him."

Sturm scored on the following power play, then netted his third goal at 15:32. Sturm and Bergeron broke loose for an odd-man rush, and the left wing converted the backdoor play by cashing in the center's crossing pass.

In the third period, Ottawa's rowdy play continued when Eaves stapled Savard to the glass, knocking the center to the ice. Eaves was tagged with a five-minute elbowing major and a game misconduct.

After the game, Savard said he was still feeling dizzy.

"That's what happens when you get a big lead," said Savard, who has 10 points in his last five outings. "You try taking cheap shots. But we stuck up for each other all night. It just shows the character in this room."

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