Robin Lehner, Jean-Gabriel Pageau team up to Beat Bruins
The Senators managed to beat the Bruins for the first time in five attempts this year, on the strength of Robin Lehner's 34 saves and a two-point effort from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Among other things.
A cross-ice pass along the blueline from Karlsson to Methot caught everyone but the two of them by surprise. Methot threw a shot on goal that bounced directly onto the stick of rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Just like that, the puck was in behind Tuukka Rask and Ottawa had a 3-2 lead. It would prove to be the pivotal play in a back-and-forth rescheduled affair between the Bruins and Sens. In typical suspenseful fashion, the Senators earned a victory against the Boston Bruins and, with it, the right to play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.
The game finished dramatically, but Ottawa didn't exactly break down the gates to start. The Bruins were directing pucks at the Ottawa net from every angle and the Senators seemed to be struggling to keep up with the Bruins energy. Then, good things happened. Erik Condra dodged a hit from Johnny Boychuk, who went careening into the boards. Condra fed the puck to Pageau, who snapped a shot on goal. The rebound popped up to the side of Rask. Erik Condra, who has not been very successful against empty nets of the Boston Bruins, was able to bury his first in 28 games, giving the Senators a 1-0 lead after a meager first period.
Ottawa found a way to extend their lead in the second, with an even strength sequence that looked prettier than any of their failed powerplay attempts on the night. With a Bruin missing a stick, Kyle Turris, Jared Cowen and Sergei gonchar slipped the puck back and forth to one another. Cowen eventually took a slapshot that stayed on the ice, fooling Rask, who was screened by one of his defenders.
In the dying seconds of the second period, Rich Peverley made it a (closer) game. Wade Reddden absorbed a hip check from Marc Methot, and Peverley kept the puck on the ice, beating Lehner to the far side.
The Bruins came out quickly in the second, as Seidenberg beat Lehner high. With a tie game, the Senators seemed to find their feet again, skating up and down the ice with Boston. Had the Senators lost the game in overtime, nobody could have questioned the excitement level a series between these two teams would have produced.
Late in the third, the Senators scored the go-ahead goal and, despite a late push from the Bruins, Kyle Turris found an empty net after gloving down a clearing lob from Daniel Alfredsson.
After the siren sounded to end the first period, Brad Marchand took a running swing at Erik Karlsson, looking to get under the skin of the Senators. Though a melee ensued, the only ire Marchand seemed to inspire was in Sens fans watching at home. Karlsson made a big hockey play on Marchand in the third, stick-checking the Bruins forward who was in on a 2-on-1 break. Marchand's late-period antics were mostly forgotten. But boy, were we mad.
We aren't mad any longer. The Sens are headed to the playoffs, where they'll face the Montreal Canadiens for the first time in franchise history. The Sens won the game 4-2 in the only NHL action on the night and completely changed the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Sens Hero: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
How good was this guy tonight? With much of the team spending the first period waking up from their afternoon naps, Pageau came in ready to play. He was the catalyst behind Erik Condra's first period tally, working hard into the slot and getting a shot off on Rask. That was really only the start of Pageau's night, as he was all over the ice, backchecking with tenacity and making opportunities happen in the offensive end. And then, as I'm typing out this flowing recap of his night, Pageau finds the back of the net for a huge third period go-ahead goal.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau showed the poise of a veteran coming into the season in Binghamton and earned his coach's trust. He has come into the NHL and, in significant moments, shown that he belongs.
Sens Hero: Marc Methot
With Chris Phillips out of the game, Methot played important minutes for the Sens, and played them very well. His only unadvisable play of the night was crunching Redden with a hip check, pulling himself out of position and leaving the puck for Rich Peverley. In 25 minutes of ice time, Methot was noticeable for the Sens throughout the night.
Sens Hero: Robin Lehner
In what many likely hope is his last game of the season, Robin Lehner finished it in style. He came to play in the first period and throughout the game. He was only beat twice and made some fantastic saves. He faced 36 shots tonight, but the quality of them was strong. With the Bruins leaning on Ottawa, Lehner has played the Bruins well this year, but tonight he played them spectacularly.
Sens Killer: The Powerplay
The Senators showed their true imaginative potential on the man advantage, finding new and interesting ways to kill their own penalties. In the first period, Ottawa attackers took themselves offside, dumped without the chase and failed to maintain any zone pressure, let alone generate any scoring chances. In all likelihood, the Senators are not the 2010/11 Boston Bruins. They need to figure out how to produce on the powerplay when it isn't in a 4-on-3.
Sens Killer: Dennis Seidenberg
Had a goal for the Bruins and continues to wear T-Blades, which are obnoxious. He settled a rolling puck, a tough task on the "ice" in TD Garden tonight, and fired a shot that clipped in under the crossbar, tying the game moments into the third. All told, the Bruins scored twice in just under twenty seconds of play and seventeen minutes of intermission.
Highlights (WARNING: ERIK CONDRA GOAL):