Final: Boston 7, Ottawa 2
Recap: Before the game, Ottawa was described as being a team desperate to finish their pre-Olympic schedule on a high note. But from the moment it began, they looked like a group desperate to go on vacation. Boston struck twice in the opening frame on goals from Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly, outshooting the Sens 11-6 through 20 minutes of action.
In the second, Bergeron made it a three-goal game 4:55 in, waiting out starter Craig Anderson and tucking a backhander into the back of the net. Bobby Ryan -- who had one goal in his last 10 tilts coming in -- made it a two-goal game when his shot went through Chad Johnson's wickets with 2:45 to go until the intermission, but Boston responded 63 seconds later when David Krejci found an I-can't-believe-he's-that-wide-open Jarome Iginla for a tip-in in front of the net.
Boston promptly tallied twice on Robin Lehner, who came in for Anderson, with goals from Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand expanding the lead to five. A Patrick Wiercioch goal on the power play with 4:55 left in the game made it 6-2, but the B's were the ones to close out the scoring, as Carl Soderberg danced around the Sens' carefree D and roofed a shot over Lehner with 3:07 to go until the final horn.
Records: Boston (37-16-4, 78 points); Ottawa (26-22-11, 63 points)
Key Play of the Game: Bergeron's second goal of the matinee completely summed this one up. Ottawa's defense was simply horrendous, perhaps never more apparent than when Erik Karlsson was left in No. 37's dust, allowing him all the time in the world to fake out Anderson and backhand Boston's third goal of the game home.
Connolly's Commendations: Kudos, first and foremost, go to the Ottawa Senators. They punched the clock, took to the ice, turned in one of the sorriest efforts ever witnessed and headed off into the Olympic break having barely broken a sweat. I'm not sure I've ever seen a team a single point shy of a playoff spot care less about winning than the Sens did today.
Just about everyone got into the act for Boston, but Bergeron's line did the most damage. The center and his linemates, Marchand and Reilly Smith, combined for three goals and five assists, a plus-7 rating and 11 shots. They had their way with Ottawa all afternoon long.
Kevan Miller was an animal today for the Black and Gold, despite not being credited with a single hit in the contest. Of course, the scorekeepers don't count each and every one of the right handed jabs No. 86 landed on Zack Smith's face during a bout late in the first period. Miller finished the game plus-3.
Iginla, Krejci and Lucic -- once again -- extended their hot streaks. The trio combined for five points in the matinee. Krejci won 13-of-17 (76%) faceoffs.
Connolly's Critiques: For the sake of filling space, as it was more bad luck than anything, Matt Bartkowski was the lone Bruin on the ice for each of Ottawa's goals. To his credit, No. 43 was the only Bruin with multiple blocked shots, and he led the team in ice time (21:27) for the second game in a row.
Notes: Dan Paille left the game in the second period, following a collision with Chris Neil. Coach Claude Julien said it was precautionary and that Paille will "be fine" when NHL play resumes. ... Kelly's goal was his first since Oct. 19. ... Boston heads to the break on an 8-1-2 run. ... Seven Bruins had multi-point games.
Final Thoughts: I've already ragged on the Sens enough thus far, so all that's left to say is what a laugher this game turned out to be. The Bruins certainly don't mind, as they'll head to the Olympic break as the hottest team in the National Hockey League.
Next: We won't see the B's in action again until Feb. 26, when they visit the Buffalo Sabres.