The first period was coming to a close. The Boston Bruins (12-6-1) were up 2-0 over an Ottawa Senators (8-7-4) team they have dominated, beating the Senators in 17 out of their last 23 meetings. Even more impressive, the Bruins have not lost a game at the Canadian Tire Centre arena (Ottawa’s home arena) since April….of 2009.
Knowing these statistics, and seeing how dominant the B’s looked the first nineteen plus minutes of the period, it looked as though the most interesting thing to watch for was whether or not Ottawa would pull their starting goalie, Craig Anderson, who had struggled lately. The whole game changed however, when Senators winger Chris Neil scored with only 50 seconds left in the period.
The goal came off of a poor decision by Boston defenseman Torey Krug. The young defenseman, whose skating ability and scoring touch has really improved the Boston blue line offensively, got into trouble trying skate the puck out of his zone under tremendous pressure from Senators left wing Colin Greening. It was Greening’s pressure that caused Krug to try and make a one handed pass to Gregory Campbell, who was coming back to Krug from the neutral zone. The ill-advised pass was picked off by Neil who carried the puck to the top of the right faceoff dot and let a quick wrist shot go, beating Tuukka Rask high blocker side.
Neil’s goal gave new life to an Ottawa club that came out sluggish in the first period. “I thought we were too passive off the start. We weren’t doing anything too wrong, but we weren’t doing anything great either, so we needed something to get a little spark, and we were able to do that and continue it over into the second period.” The “little spark” as Neil referred to it, turned into a raging inferno.
The Senators went on to score three unanswered goals to beat the Bruins 4-2, ending Boston’s 4-game winning streak. After a promising start, Bruins coach Claude Julien was surprised at how fast the game turned.
“I don’t remember the last time we lost in this building, so it was bound to happen, and it’s unfortunate because I thought for the first half we had control and had a good chance of winning,” Julien said after the tough loss.
The Bruins Loui Eriksson scored his fourth goal of the year after he deflected a Matt Bartkowski shot from the blue line 6:03 of the first period. The more games I have seen Eriksson play, the more I appreciate what he does well as a player. He is a solid two-way forward with an ability to control the puck well in traffic. While Tyler Seguin, the player he was traded for, is a superior goal scorer, I believe Eriksson “fits” better within the Bruins system. He is a good penalty killer, which as we all know coach Julien loves, and he can also put the puck in the net, scoring more than 25 goals a season in his last four full seasons.
The second Boston goal came off the stick of Brad Marchand, who has really picked up his game after a rough start. A great offensive move between two Ottawa Senators freed up Marchand in the slot and he showed off his goal scoring prowess with an absolute snipe of a shot high glove side just under the crossbar. Marchand’s improved play has really helped Boston become more consistent as a team, but he does have those moments where he frustrates me. He sometimes costs the team by taking a stupid penalty or focusing too much on trash talking with the other team. While trash talk is a big part of his game, Marchand would be better served to focus on playing the game in some instances, like on the Senators first goal when Marchand was busy talking to the Ottawa bench instead of getting off the ice for the change.
It certainly was not the result I was hoping for, but the loss did not come as too much of a shock when considering the circumstances. The Bruins were on the second night of a back to back and they simply looked too worn down to really compete with Ottawa as the game progressed and the Senators picked up their compete level. Mental errors certainly played a factor in the loss, and that too can be attributed to the quick turnaround after the teams win Thursday night.
After having the weekend off, Boston will be back in action Monday night at 7pm (ET) against the Carolina Hurricanes (8-8-4). I expect to see more of a complete effort by the Bruins with the two days between games.