Without diving in too deep, some might say the Senators' season has been rather lucky. Their shooting percentage is second in the NHL and their save percentage is top ten, even while allowing, by far, the most shots on average.
So it only seems fitting that, while visiting Boston on the back end of a home-and-home with the Bruins, the game's first goal would come off of an outrageously unlucky bounce.
Eight minutes into the first frame, Bruins defenseman Kevan Millar attempted to rim the puck around the boards, but instead got a fortunate bounce off what looked to be where the trapezoid line meets the yellow bottom of the boards. The puck squeaked out in front and Jimmy Hayes banged home his sixth goal of the season to give the home team the early lead.
Judging by the celebration, it looked as if Hayes had scored off a beautiful deke on a breakaway in triple overtime during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. But, after doing some digging, it turns out that it was actually a garbage goal on a Tuesday night during the first period of a regular season in December.
Weird, I know.
The Senators would get it right back, though. Thanks to the heavily improved fourth line - as in, improved whenever Shane Prince is allowed to play over Mark Borowiecki - Chris Neil roofed a rebound off a Prince shot and the game was knotted back at one.
It definitely doesn't hurt having Prince on the fourth line; adding his top-six worthy talent balances out a trio that tends to have run-and-gun players with no scoring ability on it. But it's hard to justify Prince's presence on the bottom line whilst Zack Smith is put on the first line with Kyle Turris and Mark Stone, damaging the Senators' most trustworthy combo.
But I think everyone's heard enough about line combinations to last four lifetimes.
Then the Bruins did some Bruin-ing. Well, one of them did. I'll give you a chance to guess who.
Yes, you are correct. It was Brad Marchand.
why would you do this. why. pic.twitter.com/SiWnaGOfMC— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 30, 2015
To make things even worse, the Bruins ended the period with a goal from Patrice Bergeron, the second best defensive forward in the league.
And then, to open up period number two the Bruins would add another. Matt Beleskey fired home a wrist shot after Anderson kicked out a rebound and the lead was two.
But the Senators would get back in it the same way they did in the first 20 minutes. Neil corralled a puck off the boards and swung out a pass to the slot where Mika Zibanejad was waiting to score his seventh goal of the season.
It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, Neil seems to strike multiple times. The game was starting to feel reminiscent of that of the Gordie Howe hat trick the 36-year-old carted against the New Jersey Devils early in the campaign.
Skip to the third frame and the Bruins were at it again.
In a strange turn of events, Mark Stone delivered a huge déjà vu when he accidentally (at least, it looked accidental) hit Landon Ferraro in the head. You might remember when Ferraro was a member of the Detroit Red Wings and Stone was suspended for a hit he gave to the 24-year-old in late October.
Nonetheless, Stone was sent to the box and the Bruins would capitalize on a beautiful slap-pass play orchestrated by Torey Krug and Brad Marchand.
As the Bruins did minutes before, put the puck to the net and good things will happen. Mike Hoffman understands this quite well, because as he tossed a pass in the direction of Tuukka Rask, it deflected off a defender's skate and to the back of the net.
Hoffman goal, Sens trail 4-3 pic.twitter.com/Mxh1QGxV55— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 30, 2015
Then some more disgusting nonsense went on.
Actually, that's a spear, not a slash. 5 and a game, not two minutes. https://t.co/QcCCxWDXSs— Callum Fraser (@CallumFraser18) December 30, 2015
The Bruins are Bruin-ing so hard tonight. So, so typical. https://t.co/uZkgjvCFUb— Callum Fraser (@CallumFraser18) December 30, 2015
It wasn't all Boston being the bullies, though. There was plenty both ways. Max McCormick ran Ferraro, crosschecking him and then proceeding to beat the living crap out of him without any agreement for the fight on Ferraro's side. Then there was the Neil eye-gouging and the handful of fights started by both sides.
It got messy, to say the least.
And then the Bruins scored with less than a second left.
Sens Hero: Chris Neil and Shane Prince
While Prince had two assists of his own, Neil finished the game with his second Gordie Howe hat trick of the season. The fourth line - if you could call any line by a number tonight, the lines were juggled every shift - was working extremely well tonight and has been with Prince and Neil all year long. Give Neil credit, penalty trouble aside, he's been a pleasant surprise this season.
Zeros: The Referees
No, this is not a complaint towards who I feel should've won the game. For what it's worth, yes, there were two major penalties missed by the ref that would've given the Senators a grand total of 10 un-interrupted minutes on the power play, but the Bruins owned the puck, owned the play and punished Ottawa throughout the game.
My quarrel is with how dangerous and out-of-hand the game got. Marchand's inexcusable play was one thing, but everyone got in on the nastiness.