Bruins show spark against Senators
OTTAWA - A day after a dud against the Rangers, the Bruins started two weeks of life without their best player, Patrice Bergeron.
The question: How would they respond, not just to the loss of Bergeron, but to the emotional flatlining at Madison Square Garden?
The answer: Pretty well.
The Bruins poured four first-period pucks past Brian Elliott, prompting Ottawa coach Cory Clouston to replace his starting goalie with Pascal Leclaire. The Senators showed a little life in the second period, but the Bruins allowed only one goal to record a 4-1 win before 19,156 at Scotiabank Place.
“You just hope that guys can understand that when you put a lot of emotion and put a lot of work into your game, you get rewarded like we did tonight,’’ said coach Claude Julien, who got a rare respite from tongue-lashing his team between periods.
“At the end of the night, you feel good about yourself and about your game. That’s what we’ve got to do every night. We haven’t been as hard to play against as we should since the beginning of the year.’’
David Krejci, elevated to No. 2 center, filled in for Bergeron quite nicely by scoring a goal and assisting on another. Mark Recchi, wearing the “A’’ that usually resides on Bergeron’s jersey, showed his leadership skills by rooting himself in front of the net, shaking off the Senators’ abuse, and recording one goal and one assist.
“Sometimes to score dirty goals, you’ve got to get your nose dirty and stay in the battle,’’ Julien said.
And when the ornery Senators went down by four goals and showed their frustration by pushing their opponents around, the Bruins shoved right back.
Late in the first, Matt Carkner jabbed Zdeno Chara under the chin with a high stick. Chara dropped the gloves but missed with a steaming right cross that earned him a two-minute roughing minor (Carkner went off for four minutes). At 13:08, Shawn Thornton stood up for his captain by challenging Carkner to a fight and slipping a few uppercuts onto his opponent’s chin.
“He did it for me, but he did it for the team, too,’’ Chara said. “It’s always hard to stick your nose in those fights. Great job by him.’’
The only sour note came in the first minute of the second period. Andrew Ference was decked by Chris Phillips, got up slowly, and skated to the bench. He didn’t return.
There was nothing pretty about any of Boston’s goals. They took place in the danger areas where elbows rise high, sticks are sharp, and tempers are nasty. In the first period, after the Bruins won a faceoff, Ference pinched down low and threw a puck into traffic in front. Blake Wheeler, tussling for position in front, saw the puck tick off his skate and bounce past Elliott at 1:46.
The Bruins doubled the lead with a power-play goal. Recchi claimed ownership of the slot and jabbed repeatedly at the puck. With all four penalty-killers focused on Recchi, an uncovered Recchi found the puck and poked it past Elliott at 6:05.
Wheeler scored his second of the game after Krejci held the point, faked a cross-ice pass to Chara, and waited for his left wing to set up in front. Krejci floated a shot on goal that Wheeler tipped past Elliott at 11:37.
“He really likes to survey the whole rink before he does anything with the puck,’’ Wheeler said. “It wasn’t the hardest shot in the world, but it was in the perfect spot.’’
Recchi closed out the barrage by netting his ninth of the season. After Johnny Boychuk blasted a puck wide, Recchi, again occupying the front of the net, found the carom off the end boards and slammed his shot home at 13:45.
“We came out hard,’’ said Chara. “We came out ready to play.’’