There were some signs on how this one could go before the game even started. Despite being practically a must-win for the Bruins, they were forced to swap Jonas Gustavsson in for Tuukka Rask at the last moment due to illness. How last minute? They had called up a backup from Providence, an hour or so away, who wasn't able to make it in time for warm ups.
The play itself started fairly slow. Both teams traded so-so chances in a steady back and forth for the first few minutes. It wasn't too long before Boston was able to grab the lead off of what looked like a fairly innocuous breakout. A quick little flip pass from Brad Marchand looked like it was going right to Ben Harpur... until David Pastrnak cut in front of Harpur with momentum, gloved it down out of the air to his stick and roofed it on Andrew Hammond off his mini-breakaway. Ottawa challenged the goal claiming Pastrnak was offside, but the height of the pass made it pretty much impossible to tell conclusively from video replay angles available so the call on the ice would stand. Mandatory cameras centred right down the blue line please, NHL.
The rest of the first would end up mostly uneventful. A lot of back and forth with a handful of decent chances at both ends of the ice, but neither team was really able to set up any real pressure. There was a bit of rough stuff to liven things up a bit - first a shoving match between Chris Neil and Landon Ferraro leading to some 4-on-4, then during that a Neil-less Chris Neil Debate Club meeting at the Sens goalmouth that the refs quickly clamped down on before it got out of hand.
Mike Hoffman did have a great chance on a clear break to tie the game up with his 30th of the season, but the monster was able to keep the door shut.
The second period started with a lot more of the same, but one key difference - the Sens kept finding holes in Gustavsson. First it was Chris Neil jamming a (questionably) loose puck through. With the number of quick whistles that have burnt the Sens in recent memory, it's nice to see the opposite.
Next it was an Erik Karlsson blast from the point redirected by Zack Smith. Officially, Smith tipped it. Unofficially, it looked a whole lot like Karlsson banking it in off Smith's stick. Either way, it put the captain officially into the full season point per game club.
A fairly innocuous play would put the Sens up 3-1, with Matt Puempel tipping in a Phil Varone pass while essentially surrounded by Bruins players. A solid, simple play that ended in a goal thanks to some soft defensive work.
Right at the halfway mark, the Sens would make it 4-1 when a failed clearing attempt ended up right on the stick of Mike Hoffman. Hoffman didn't waste any time in feeding it to Zibanejad, who had been left all alone in front of the net.
That marked Ottawa's last shot of the second period. Boston called a time out at this point, and the pace of the game started to change. The Bruins finally started getting sustained pressure in the Ottawa end, with the odd and notable exception of during a power play that the Sens killed off masterfully. The period played out almost entirely in the Ottawa zone, but the Hamburglar stood firm to keep the score as-is.
The third period kept up that trend. When the Sens were able to get the puck out, the Bruins would move it right back up the ice within moments. Ottawa didn't get any kind of shot off until seven and a half minutes in. Through some combination of puck luck and solid goaltending for the Sens, and maybe some lower quality desperate shooting from the Bruins, there was no give on the scoreboard.
Then something unusual happened. With Harpur sent to the box at 9:26 for interference, the Bruins pulled the goalie for the 6 on 4 power play. It was a move of pure desperation on their part, and it didn't really help. Boston only managed two missed shots before (you guessed it) Jean-Gabriel Pageau notched his league leading (and absurd) 7th short handed goal of the season. JGP won the face-off, won the battle, and sent the puck the length of the ice into the empty net.
Hoffman would put the Sens shorthanded again by trying to play the puck with a broken stick, and the Bruins tried the desperate empty net move again with similar results. This time it was Zack Smith for his second of the game, 25th of the season, and league-second 5th shorthanded goal. It took what little wind there was left out of the Bruins sails and largely emptied the building of fans.
From there on it was just going through the motions. The Bruins even didn't bother to pull Gustavsson when Mike Kostka took a tripping penalty late in the game. 6-1 was your final in a complete rout, and the Sens finish the season on a high note by taking the Bruins down with them.
Sens Hero: Andrew Hammond
Stood about zero chance on the first goal, and kept the door shut the rest of the game.
Sens Hero: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
His goal was a pure singular effort. Here's a list of players with more than 7 short handed goals in a season in the past 25 years:
- Mario Lemieux (8)
- Steve Sullivan (8)
- Martin St. Louis (8)
- Brian Rolston (9)
Any time a goal puts you that close to Lemieux on a list, it gets you hero status.
Honourable Mention: Erik Karlsson
The captain didn't stand out a whole lot in this one, but his
plinko-goal assist was a thing of beauty, and a point per game across 82 games is worth honouring.
Dishonourable Mention: Ben Harpur
Can't give anybody zero status in a game like this, but he really got played on the lone Bruins goal.
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick
Shot Chart via ESPN