Bruins set to stop Sens at Scotiabank Place
The Boston Bruins appear to have two goaltenders they can count on each night to win them games.
The Ottawa Senators have the league's highest goal scorer in Milan Michalek, but he suffered an injury in last night's victory.
Boston is expected to go with reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe award winner Tim Thomas this evening versus Ottawa after backup Tuukka Rask notched a shutout in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Kings.
The Bruins were outshot by the Kings 41-22, but Rask stopped each one for his 10th career shutout. Boston has won consecutive games after its first two-game slide since October and improved to 16-2-1 in its last 19 and 3-0 in games in which its opponent records 40-plus shots.
Despite facing a lot of rubber, Rask said his defense played well even though former Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara sat out with a leg injury. The mammoth blueliner was expected to travel with the club to Ottawa though.
"We weren't that bad, we didn't give many second chances," said Rask. "Most of their shots came from he outside and were easy to see. It's just one of those games where we gave up a bunch of shots."
Brad Marchand had two goals and Rich Peverley also scored for the Bruins, who were without Gregory Campbell due to a foot ailment.
Even without his top defenseman, Bruins head coach Claude Julien didn't hesitate to go with Rask last night, leaving Thomas fresh for the back end of consecutive games.
"Tuukka made big saves for us like Tim makes big saves. We always rely on our goaltender. It's something every team wishes they had; that luxury to be able to do that with two guys and we have that," Julien said.
Boston will play its next two on the road and has won seven of its last eight as the guest to improve its road record to 8-3-0. A ninth victory could be in store tonight given that Thomas is 20-8-2 in his career versus the Senators with a 1.95 goals-against average and six shutouts. He made 23 saves in a 5-3 home victory over the Senators on Nov. 1 in the first of six meetings between the Northeast Division residents this year.
Chris Kelly led five different Boston goal scorers with a goal and an assist as the Bruins defeated the Senators for the fifth straight time overall. Boston has also won 19 of its last 24 against Ottawa and has taken six in a row and nine of the past 10 at Scotiabank Place.
That is what the Senators are up against tonight as they look to win a second straight game after snapping a three-game slide with a 3-2 overtime victory in Buffalo.
Michalek scored his NHL-leading 19th goal of the season in that win and has seven goals in his last eight games, but left last night's win in the second period with an upper-body injury after colliding with teammate Erik Karlsson. He is slated to be re-evaluated today.
"I read the guy's pass and stepped up and I think [Michalek] was coming full speed to back-check," Karlsson said. "I was only looking for their guys and not ours and we collided pretty hard there. We were both going forward."
Karlsson factored in on the winning goal, taking a pass from Jason Spezza before finding fellow defenseman Jared Cowen, who buried the game-winner unchecked 45 seconds into the extra frame.
"I just went to the net and Karlsson found me," said Cowen of his first career overtime winner. "Great pass and I just touched it in there."
Spezza ended with two helpers to give him five assists in his past three games, while Craig Anderson stopped 27 shots for Ottawa.
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar missed his second game in a row with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day as Ottawa begins a four-game homestand this evening.
Nick Foligno, who is second on Ottawa in goals with 10 and played in his 300th game last night, had a goal and two assists in the earlier meeting with the Bruins, while Anderson allowed all five goals on 41 shots.