Coming off Christmas break, the Bruins returned with one of their better efforts of the season, well, at least their best third period thus far. Boston (26-10-2) blanked Ottawa (15-18-7), 5-0, at TD Garden thanks to a dominant third where they outscored the Senators, 4-0, to turn a close game into a blowout. Reilly Smith scored two goals, Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist while Patrice Bergeron added two assists as Boston’s second line controlled the game. Tuukka Rask stopped 33 shots for his NHL-best fourth shutout of the season.
"Smith has been a good player since Day 1, not a throw in from the (Seguin) trade," B's head coach Claude Julien said. "He was a good player in college (Miami of Ohio) and now he’s getting a chance to play on a regular basis in the NHL. It was a matter of making things happen and, of course, being with Marchand and Bergeron helps.”
Rask kept the game scoreless when his teammates came out lethargic in the first period as Ottawa outshot Boston 15-5 early. Jarome Iginla pounced on a loose puck for a power-play goal that made it 1-0 in the second period. Krejci scored 38 seconds into the third and the Bruins were on their way. Smith finished a 2-on-1 then was in the right place for another goal seven minutes later. Marchand completed the scoring with a shorthanded goal on a breakaway.
The Bruins will play in Ottawa Saturday (7 p.m., NESN) in a rare back-to-back, home-and-home series. The Senators looked like a defeated team as the wheels fell off in the third.
What they'll be saying: The only bad news to come out of this lopsided win for the Bruins was that Dennis Seidenberg suffered a lower-body injury late in the third period and Julien noted in his postgame press conference that he wouldn’t be traveling with the team to Ottawa. Expect David Warsofsky or Kevan Miller to make a return from Providence since Dougie Hamilton is still out dealing with his injury.
Boston made an interesting roster move earlier in the day when they called up goaltender Niklas Svedberg. He served as Rask’s backup since Chad Johnson was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. What’s more, all signs point to Svedberg getting his first NHL start on Saturday. Could the Bruins be showcasing him for a trade or simply be putting some pressure on Johnson, who has played poorly in his last few starts?
Smith became the seventh Bruin to score two goals in the past seven games, tying a club record (set in December 1929!) and matching the best mark in the NHL since Calgary in October of 2007.
Rask’s shutout was the 20th of his career, giving him sole possession of eighth place in club history.
Bergeron’s two assists give him 454 career points which ties him with former No. 1 overall pick Joe Thornton for 18th on Bruins’ all-time scoring list.
Smith leads the Bruins in goals, a development that nobody in the world could have predicted at this point of the season (almost halfway through). He shows no signs of slowing down either, with five goals and two assists in his last three games.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate