After being stymied by a hot goalie and a frustrating defensive scheme for close to five games, the Boston Bruins finally found the perfect time to figure out how to score on the Ottawa Senators.
The B’s bounced back from a terrible second period that saw them outshot 12-0 by notching both the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 2-1 victory over the Senators in Game 1 of their First Round Playoff series on Wednesday night.
Things were looking pretty bleak for the Bruins, who came into the game shorthanded, as defensemen Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were both out, which forced 19-year-old rookie Charlie McAvoy to make his NHL debut. Forward David Krejci was a late scratch after leaving the ice during warm-ups, and the B’s lost another defenseman when Colin Miller took a knee-to-knee hit in the second period.
But whatever the message was in the locker room between the second and third periods worked, as the Bruins finally cracked the Sens’ 1-3-1 defensive scheme to shock the home crowd at Canadian Tire Centre.
Frank Vatrano notched his first playoff goal in his postseason debut with five minutes elapsed in the third, then Brad Marchand struck for the eventual game-winner with 2:33 left after a terrific shift by the Bergeron line along with Zdeno Chara and McAvoy. McAvoy was bumped up from the third defensive pairing to the first early in the contest, as he logged the second-most ice time in his first NHL game.
Tuukka Rask was outstanding in net for Boston, making 26 saves to pick up his 29th career postseason victory. Rask made several clutch saves during the second period, when the Senators completely tilted the home rink in their favor yet could not add to their lead.
The lone Ottawa goal came from Bobby Ryan, who took a loose puck that was muffed along the boards by Bruins’ defenseman Adam McQuaid right to the front of the net. Ryan missed on his initial chance but regained possession of the puck and buried it past Rask with 9:32 left in the middle frame.
McQuaid atoned for his mistake on Vatrano’s game-tying goal, as he won a puck battle along the boards with Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki. McQuaid found Riley Nash, who made a short pass to Vatrano to set up his snap shot that beat Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson on the blocker side.
The Bruins looked like the fresher team during the late stages of regulation, and it showed on the final goal of the evening. McAvoy was in the middle of the action throughout a lengthy shift that saw the B’s put tons of pressure on the Sens’ defense, as he kept two pucks inside the offensive zone prior to Marchand’s game-winner. The combination of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Marchand set up the goal, as Marchand was on the doorstep for a rebound from a shot by Bergeron and buried it in the vacated net.
The goal was Marchand’s 40th tally of the season and 17th in the playoffs. The “Little Ball of Hate” had missed the last two regular season games after being suspended for a spear against the Lightning.
Boston was 0-4-0 during the regular season against the Senators, but will look to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Saturday afternoon in Ottawa. Puck drop is slated for 3pm.
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