After a fruitless day of working the phones, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed his team before last night's game, telling the players he didn't make a deal because he believed in them.
Last night, against Northeast Division-leading Ottawa, his players repaid their GM.
The Bruins dominated a thoroughly disinterested Ottawa club, scoring two even-strength goals, a power-play marker, and a shorthanded empty-netter to claim a 4-0 victory before 13,451 at TD Banknorth Garden, continuing the success of a 4-0-1 road trip.
"It's great for every player," Marc Savard said of the team's nonmovement at the trade deadline. "[Chiarelli] believes in every guy in here. And why wouldn't he?"
Tim Thomas had to make several sparklers to keep the Senators off the scoreboard. But for the most part, the Bruins played a complete game in front of their goaltender, who redeemed himself after a shaky start against Florida last week.
"I think it was important for me to come back with a strong game after the last outing," said Thomas (22 saves). "The team played well in front of me and made my job a lot easier. It was great to get the win. It was important for me, but also important for the team to keep this streak rolling."
Lately, the Garden hadn't been the most hospitable environment. While the Bruins secured 9 of 10 possible points during their five-game roadie, they had dropped their last four matches at home. Starting last night, six of the Bruins' next seven matches are at home, so they knew they had to start strong against the reeling Senators, who were coming off a 5-0 dud against Toronto Monday.
In a rare move, coach Claude Julien sent out his fourth line to start the night. Jeremy Reich, Vladimir Sobotka, and Shawn Thornton opened the game by playing their usual wrecking-ball style, which carried over later in the period when they connected for the first goal - against Ottawa's top shutdown pair of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov, no less.
Sobotka, stickhandling along the right wall, turned Phillips inside out, then slid the puck to Thornton in the slot. Volchenkov hit the deck to block Thornton's shot, but his wrister slid underneath the defenseman and dribbled through the pads of goalie Martin Gerber at 5:24.
The Bruins doubled their lead when David Krejci, one of the youngsters pursued by other NHL teams, scored his first big league goal. Krejci started the play by standing up Antoine Vermette in the neutral zone, forcing the Ottawa center to cough up the puck. Krejci dished the puck to Peter Schaefer, who blasted a shot that Gerber kicked out. Milan Lucic, crashing the net, took a follow-up attempt that missed the cage. But Krejci, following the play, got into the slot and batted the puck past defenseman Andrej Meszaros at 17:23. Lucic scooped the puck from the Ottawa net and brought the keepsake to the bench.
"I think he's getting his confidence back slowly, knowing that he can produce at this level," said Julien. "That's important at this stage of the season. I think he's a pretty gifted player, a pretty skilled player. When you've got that goose egg in the goal department this late in the season, it can be disturbing."
Zdeno Chara boomed a power-play slapper over Gerber's glove at 2:15 of the second period, then added another score with 1:27 remaining in the game, sending a long-distance shorthanded shot into an empty net.
On the other end, Thomas made his best stop midway through the second period during Ottawa's first power play. Point man Jason Spezza, stationed at the top of the left circle, sent a shot that deflected off P.J. Axelsson and skittered to Daniel Alfredsson at the far post. The Ottawa captain whipped a wrister that seemed destined for the back of the net. But Thomas, sliding from right to left, gloved Alfredsson's shot just before it crossed the goal line. Replays determined that Thomas snared the puck in front of the line.
"Somebody screened me, so I butterflied and lost the puck," Thomas said. "Next thing I know, I caught it out of the corner of my eye over by Alfredsson. So I slid over, was able to get a bead on it, and was able to keep it out of the net."
To start the third period, Thomas made successive stops on defenseman Wade Redden and forward Dany Heatley, keeping it 3-0. The Bruins limited the Senators to six third-period shots.
"It's nice to see they kept the group together," said Chara. "We know what we have. We believe in each other. We know that we are capable of good things."
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.