By winning Game 1 in Ottawa, 2-1 on Wednesday, the Bruins set themselves up in good position to win their first round playoff series vs. the Senators. Of course, losing Game 2 particularly in the spectacular fashion that they did (blowing a 2-goal 3rd period lead and falling 4-3 in OT on Saturday) left Boston with a bad taste in their mouths as they head back to TD Garden for the pivotal Game 3 on Monday (7, NESN) and Game 4 on Wednesday (7:30, NESN). Still, either way who thought that this would be an easy series? Both clubs are clearly very close in terms of talent level not to mention all the mounting injuries on each side so it’s no wonder that it seems destined to go six or even seven games (that’ll probably almost all be decided by one or two goals at most).
These are the first playoff games for interim head coach Bruce Cassidy in charge of the Bruins and if the first two tilts in Ottawa were any indication, his team is in for a serious test from their Atlantic Division rival.
“A team that’s behind, they’re at home, they’re desperate, they’re going to push hard and they did. We saw the same script on Wednesday (after the B’s trailed 1-0 but rallied for a pair of 3rd period goals). We did it to them. What’s disappointing is that we are generally pretty good at closing out games.”
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After a scoreless first period in Game 2, Boston scored three goals in the second period including a shorthanded goal by right wing Tim Schaller and a power-play goal by Patrice Bergeron that put them firmly in control at 3-1 late in the frame. Ottawa was desperate as they couldn’t afford to leave town trailing 2-0 in the series so defenseman Chris Wideman scored on a screened shot from the point then center Derick Brassard tied it on a one-timer thanks to a slick spin move by their best player-defenseman Erik Karlsson. Senators captain Dion Phaneuf ended it just 1:59 into the extra session, blasting one from the point, seconds after Boston had killed off a terrible penalty on its own captain Zdeno Chara (who was called for delay of game after putting the puck over the glass in his own end).
It’s hard to fathom but the Bruins have lost a defenseman in four straight games, dating back to the final two contests of the regular season. Torey Krug (lower-body) and Brandon Carlo (upper-body) have yet to appear in the series while Colin Miller (lower-body) got hurt in Game 1 on a nasty knee-to-knee hit and Adam McQuaid (upper-body) departed early in Game 2 after blocking a shot. As you can imagine, this has left Boston’s defensive corps in tatters. Luckily for them, 19-year-old rookie Charlie McAvoy (who just a couple weeks ago was still playing for BU) has stepped in right away (paired with Chara who is old enough to be his father) and looked like a dependable veteran which is slightly shocking. Carlo skated on Sunday but he was termed “day-to-day and doubtful for Game 3.” Boston doesn’t want to have to dip much further into the depths of their roster (or the Providence Bruins) after Joe Morrow played his first game on Saturday since January 22.