Fatigue catches up to Bruins in loss to Senators
History was on its side as Boston had won 11 straight games (dating back to April 7, 2009; longest streak in franchise history) in Ottawa plus they were riding a modest four-game winning streak.
However, playing their second game in as many nights, the Bruins fell, 4-2, to the Senators Friday at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Boston (12-6-1) actually led Ottawa (8-7-4) 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the game but they systematically fell apart in the third-allowing three goals in 8:39 (quickest trio they’ve given up this season). Tuukka Rask (27 saves) had a rare off-night, tying a season-high with four goals allowed (Oct. 26 vs. New Jersey).
The B’s started fast with Matt Bartkowski and Loui Eriksson in the middle of both early goals. Bartkowski’s shot from the point was tipped in by Eriksson to make it 1-0. That was followed shortly thereafter by Brad Marchand’s best play of the season, weaving around multiple Senators before shooting it past Craig Anderson (30 saves). A turnover by Torey Krug in Boston’s end was converted into a goal by Chris Neil that ended up being a momentum changer late in the frame.
Ottawa dominated in the third period, outshooting Boston, 18-10, and scoring three goals to none. Jason Spezza was the recipient of a splendid fake shot/slap pass by Erik Karlsson then Jared Cowen’s shot from the point was deflected off Johnny Boychuk’s stick and through Rask’s five-hole. It was all over when Bobby Ryan stole the puck from Reilly Smith and shot it off the post and in.
Boston has the weekend to recover before traveling to Carolina on Monday (7, NESN). The puck drops before Monday Night Football (Patriots at Panthers) kicks off in North Carolina. That is the start of another back-to-back as they play at the Rangers (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) on Tuesday before returning to the Garden on Thursday vs. St. Louis (7 p.m., NESN).
What they’ll be saying: This was a classic case of tired legs catching up to the Bruins. Ottawa last played a game on Tuesday (at home) while Boston went into overtime with Columbus on Thursday then had to hustle to catch their flight to Ottawa that night. Granted that is no excuse since every team in the NHL has to go through such stretches but a simple explanation for why the B’s melted down so drastically. Seeing Rask struggle a bit was surprising since he’s normally one of the more steady players on the team. Like his teammates, he can occasionally have letdowns too. One of the few positives for the Bruins is that their penalty kill survived two more penalties, making them 28 for their last 28. The Senators earned the win: they recorded 15 more hits (36-21), five more takeaways (15-10) and won 12 more faceoffs (38-26). This was the first meeting of the season for the Atlantic Division rivals: they will play three more times with the next one Dec. 27 at TD Garden. It’ll be interesting to see how Claude Julien deploys his goaltenders on Monday and Tuesday. Does he sit Rask vs. Carolina (the weaker team) or throw him back out there on Monday in hopes of a better result than tonight? As he once said “that’s why I’m the coach.”
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate