Game after game the Bruins lost defensemen to injury, yet they kept on winning.
That run ended with a 4-3 overtime loss at Ottawa in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first round series on Saturday. The series is now tied 1-1 after the Bruins lost a 3-1 lead in the third period.
Instead of the Bruins’ depleted defense corps earning all the accolades, it was the Senators’ defensemen who turned around the game and shifted the momentum of the series.
Chris Wideman scored on his only shot of the game to cut the Boston lead to 3-2. Erik Karlsson took a tour of the offensive zone before setting up Derick Brassard’s game-tying goal with an almost impossible cross-ice pass. And then 1:59 into overtime Dion Phaneuf hammered a one-timer past Tuukka Rask for the game-winner with, ironically, three Bruins defensemen on the ice (Zdeno Chara had just exited the penalty box).
What in the name of Shane Hnidy and Wade Redden are the Bruins going to do if they don’t get healthy for Game 3? If they don’t have anyone back, they can insert Matt Grzelcyk or Tommy Cross and hope they can duplicate the way they played through the first five periods of this series on Monday.
Even with Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Colin Miller (not to mention center David Krejci) sidelined, Boston’s strong defensive play carried over from Game 1 on Saturday and everyone in the group was involved, even after Adam McQuaid left in the first period with an upper-body injury. No. 9 defenseman Joe Morrow, playing his first NHL game since Jan. 22, took a hit to help a clean break-in progress before Drew Stafford’s goal made it 1-0. Also on the play, Chara retrieved the puck behind the Ottawa net after John-Michael Liles, after taking Morrow’s place on the ice, aggressively fired a shot from the high slot.
Charlie McAvoy looked as poised as ever, despite having to play on the top pair with Chara, and was instrumental in the Bruins going ahead 3-1 on Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal. All the Bruins’ defensemen were playing well in their own and, more importantly, making passes to help the Bruins bust the Senators’ neutral-zone trap. Most of Ottawa’s top forwards were left off the stat sheet, especially at 5-on-5.
But five periods were all Cinderella had to enjoy the ball. Playing with five defensemen for the fourth straight game clearly caught up to the Bruins. Ottawa coach Guy Boucher must have also lit a fire under some of his best players. Derick Brassard had been shot-less until he scored on one of three shots in the third period. Kyle Turris became more aggressive, and Zack Smith, Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman formed a new line that was a threat every time it was on the ice.
Smith helped lure McAvoy in front of Rask on Wideman’s goal. Everyone got caught puck watching on Karlsson’s set up of Brassard. With 12.5 seconds remaining in the third, Chara flipped the puck over the glass without any pressure on him. The Senators went on the power play, which carried over into overtime. They hit the post twice and Phaneuf had a great shot that Rask stopped but couldn’t keep in his glove just before the defenseman’s winning goal.
Rask could’ve been better over the final 21:59 but he made some sensational saves in the first two periods and the dangerousness of Ottawa’s scoring chances went through the roof in the third period. The Bruins could’ve benefited from a line other than Bergeron’s or Dominic Moore’s making the Senators work in their own end. But for the Bruins to execute their game plan, they need defensemen and although there were five healthy bodies in skates and sweaters, the injuries finally caught up to them. The Bruins have played with five defensemen for 80 percent of their past four games.
And with McQuaid out and Chara in the box, the Bruins were left to kill a penalty with Miller, Morrow and Liles. Ottawa should be ashamed it didn’t score until after the penalty expired.
Now we know what it takes for the sit-back-and-wait Senators to get going offensively. If the Bruins lose a couple more defenseman maybe Ottawa will start to resemble the ‘80s Oilers. We also now know the limits of Cassidy’s tutelage. No NHL team ever makes injuries an excuse, but the Bruins deserve to blame their poor healthy for their plight.
All they can really do now is hope they get a defenseman or two back in the lineup for Game 3 or they may not survive the upcoming week.
|Tuukka Rask ,Joe Morrow, and Kevan Miller of the Bruins defend the net against Viktor Stalberg and Tom Pyatt of the Ottawa Senators in their game 2 loss. (Photo credit: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)|
8 tweets that defined Game 2 of Sens-Bruins series
In a wild afternoon affair at the Canadian Tire Centre, the Ottawa Senators erased two Boston leads to win 4-3 and even their first-round series against the Bruins at a game apiece.
After a scoreless first period, Ottawa fell behind on a controversial Drew Stafford goal that was reviewed to see if Boston was offside on the play.
The officials decided they weren't. But just 70 seconds later, Clarke MacArthur scored his first goal since the 2015 playoffs to tie the game on the power play.
Even Toronto Maple Leafs fans were happy for their former player, who has been kept from playing most of the last two seasons because of injury.
The good vibes were stifled less than two minutes later, when Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson got caught trying to play the puck and gifted Boston a short-handed goal.
Boston stretched their lead to 3-1 a few minutes later on the power play, and cameras caught captain Erik Karlsson yelling at teammate Derrick Brassard from the bench and looking rather unhappy.
By the end of the second period, the good vibes seemed dead and buried.
After the break, defenceman Chris Wideman scored a quick goal and Karlsson set up Brassard in another rapid-fire scoring sequence to tie the game and send Twitter into a tizzy.
Senators stun Bruins with Phaneuf's OT winner
Dion Phaneuf waited a long time for this type of moment.
Phaneuf set up two goals before scoring his own in overtime as the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 on Saturday to tie their Eastern Conference quarter-final series 1-1.
The 12-year veteran scored the winner from the point at 1:59 as Alex Burrows provided a screen.
"It feels great to do it here in front of our fans, it's just incredible," Phaneuf said. "I've played a long time and this is my first overtime winner and it feels great. I tried to get as much on it and luckily it found a way through."
Clarke MacArthur, Chris Wideman and Derick Brassard also scored for the Senators and Craig Anderson made 26 saves.
Drew Stafford, Tim Schaller and Patrice Bergeron provided the offence for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots.
The Senators had rallied from a 3-1 deficit with a two-goal third period to force overtime.
Ottawa scored twice in a span of 2:28 to tie the game, sending the 18,629 on hand at Canadian Tire Centre into a frenzy.
Wideman made it 3-2 with a shot from the point and Brassard, off a great pass from Erik Karlsson, tied the game at 7:48 on a one-timer.
"The second period we didn't really come out the way that we wanted and we needed a response and I think that we definitely gave them that in the third," said Karlsson. "That's the way that we're going to have to play if we're going to beat these guys. They're not going to give up. They're a good team even if though they're battling some injuries."
Lead slips away
The Bruins anticipated a push back from the Senators, but were disappointed at letting the two-goal lead slip away.
"You don't want to put your foot off the gas there, you want to keep at it and not really change anything," said Stafford. "For the most part I don't think we really did, they just capitalized on a point shot, a seeing-eye shot and a little bit of a breakdown and they were able to get it through. They capitalized on their chances."
A goalie gaffe and bad penalties left the Senators trailing 3-1 after 40 minutes.
Viktor Stalberg blocked a shot, but the rebound went right to Stafford, who hammered it past Anderson to open the scoring at 9:47.
The Senators challenged the goal believing the play was offside, but a lengthy review upheld the goal.
MacArthur provides boost
MacArthur tied it on the power play with his first goal since April 19, 2015.
MacArthur, who battled back after suffering a devastating concussion in training camp and wasn't expected to play this season, raised his arms to the sky in celebration as the crowd went wild.
"It was just a great feeling," said MacArthur.
"You know everyone wanted me to get one too is what it felt like. The whole city's kind of been having to listen to me the last couple of years trying to make comebacks and what not and to get that ovation was just, wow, probably be the best moment I have in hockey."
Game 3 is Monday in Boston.