December 28, 2013

Bruins' comeback bid falls short in Ottawa

By Jesse Connolly

Bobby Ryan broke in alone and roofed a shot over Chad Johnson in the final minutes Saturday night. (Getty Images)

Final: Ottawa 4, Boston 3

Recap: After Patrick Wiercioch staked the Sens to a 1-0 lead 7:04 into the contest, the injury-riddled Bruins made it 1-1 when Dan Paille blew past Erik Karlsson and beat Craig Anderson. Ottawa regained the lead when Cory Conacher showed some serious hand-eye coordination, knocking the puck out of midair and past Tuukka Rask.

After a shorthanded goal by Zack Smith 29 seconds into the middle frame, coach Claude Julien pulled Rask and in came Chad Johnson. Jarome Iginla got to the top of the crease and directed a pass from David Krejci past Anderson midway through the second (right after a Boston power play expired) to make it a one-goal game.

In the third, David Warsofsky (Marshfield, Mass.) scored his first NHL goal on a tough-angle slapper from near the far half-wall to knot things up with 13:24 left in regulation. Unfortunately, Boston's comeback bid ultimately fell short, as Bobby Ryan put the Sens up for good with 4:35 to go, roofing one over Johnson on a breakaway. 

Records: Ottawa 16-18-7, 39 points; Boston 26-11-2, 54 points

Key Play of the Game: The Bruins made a fantastic effort to tie things up, but they couldn't catch any breaks. The B's went on the power play with 1:48 left in regulation and never left the Ottawa zone during their 6-on-4 man advantage. Amid their golden opportunities, David Krejci heeled a shot, Torey Krug fanned on one and Iginla watched as his stick exploded on a one-timer.

Connolly's Commendations: Johnson deserves an ethusiastic golf clap for coming in cold and stopping 17-of-18 shots. That's no easy feat. He helped keep Boston in this one and had virtually no chance on Ryan's game-winner.

After tearing it up together throughout the first two months of the season, Nick Johnson, Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser were reunited on Boston's third line. The group had a number of quality shifts, including one early in the night when Johnson just missed tucking one past Anderson after he got the goalie to give him an opening near the right post.

He's probably playing on borrowed time, but Jordan Caron deserves a hat tip for dropping the gloves with Matt Kassian in the first period, and for dishing out four hits on the night.

Connolly's Critiques: Not a great night for No. 63. Brad Marchand had just one shot on net during a quiet showing and put Boston down a man twice with a pair of minor penalties. 

Notes: The Bruins won 36-of-55 faceoffs on the night. Patrice Bergeron was responsible for half of those victories. ... The home team has now been victorious in each of the three games in this season series. ... Boston was without Dennis Seidenberg (out for the season with ACL/MCL tear) and Zdeno Chara, who was a late scratch with an undisclosed injury. Warsofsky, Matt Bartkowski and Zach Trotman (first NHL game) all dressed.

Final Thoughts: For a team missing its top two defensemen and relying on its fresh-off-the-bench backup goalie for the final 39-plus minutes, the B's showed some fight and nearly took at least a point out of this one. Hell, it looked like they might grab two when a soon-to-be-overturned strike by Iginla appeared to put the Bruins ahead late. Giving up the go-ahead goal with under five minutes to go was a disappointing way to end the night, but expectations weren't high, given everything that happened leading up to the contest.

Next: The Bruins will be back at it on New Year's Eve when they host the slumping Islanders.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ