Posted February 27, 2013 on
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The Boston Bruins have the best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, but what the Ottawa Senators are doing may be even more impressive given their injury-decimated roster.
Both teams put winning streaks on the line as these Northeast Division rivals meet for the first time this season Thursday night in Boston.
The Bruins (12-2-2) are fully healthy and playing like it. Coach Claude Julien's club finished a five-game road trip with a fourth consecutive victory Tuesday, beating the New York Islanders 4-1 and extending its streak of successful penalty kills to 24.
"This was a great win, but I think we can still play better," said Tuukka Rask, who made a season-high 36 saves to improve to 6-0-1 with a 1.42 goals-against average in February.
"I'm feeling very comfortable," the goalie added. "And my teammates have been great in front of me. The key for us is to keep this going when we get home."
The Bruins are 0 for 23 on the power play at home, where they play their next three games and five of six. They enter Thursday's home matchup looking to end Ottawa's five-game winning streak.
The Senators (12-6-2) began their run with a shootout victory at New Jersey, then took all eight possible points from a four-game homestand, capped by a 2-1 shootout win over division-leading Montreal on Monday.
"Feels perfect," coach Paul MacLean said. "It's not always pretty, but the structure of our team and the work ethic of our team and our goaltending has certainly come to the forefront, and we're finding a way to win."
That goaltending had been anchored by Craig Anderson, the league leader with a 1.49 GAA, before he sprained his ankle in a win over the New York Rangers last week. Backup Ben Bishop has responded by stopping 70 of 73 shots in two victories, making a career-high 44 saves against the Canadiens.
Ottawa also remains without injured stars Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza, while Milan Michalek will miss his eighth straight game Thursday. Michalek, who led the Senators with 35 goals last season, practiced Wednesday but isn't quite ready to return.
Some unlikely contributors have helped pick up the slack. Dave Dziurzynski scored Monday, his second goal in six games since being recalled from Binghamton of the AHL. He came up at the same time as defenseman Eric Gryba, who has seen his ice time steadily increase in his first six NHL contests to 23:15 against Montreal.
Gryba played his college hockey at Boston University, where he is the all-time leader in penalty minutes.
"We are a team of opportunity, and the best players play," MacLean said. "For (Dziurzynski and Gryba), they've taken advantage of that motto that we have, and if they're playing well, we keep playing them."
The Bruins' standouts haven't been as surprising. Brad Marchand tallied his team-best 10th goal Tuesday, while David Krejci also scored and leads the club with 14 points.
Patrice Bergeron, who has six points in the last four games, has scored seven goals in his last eight versus Ottawa. The Bruins have won nine of the past 10 meetings, with the only blemish a 1-0 home defeat exactly one year ago Thursday.
Robin Lehner may start again after making 32 saves for the Senators in that game.
MacLean knows his team faces some tough challenges as it begins a five-game trip, especially since the Senators are 3-5-0 on the road.
"Boston's a tough place to play, so that's obviously going to be a big test," MacLean said. "We've been able to have success at home. We have to try to take that formula on the road and do it again."
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
May 10, 2010, roughly 10PM. It was an electrifying moment. Overtime. Marc Savard, back on the ice for the first time in two months, skating left to right across the ice, palms up, fists clenched between his knees with a giant smile across his face.
NESN announcer Jack Edwards with the call on Boston Bruins game winning goal, scored by Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. There was no doubt that it was a goal... Boston Bruins Haters the world over are probably happy it wasn't the Little Ball of Hate.
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That’s exactly the kind of game it turned out to be, as scoring turned out to be at a premium in Boston’s 2-1 win. However, coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with all aspects of the Bruins’ effort, nothing that the legs looked perhaps just a little bit tired on...
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Patrice Bergeron scored the winning goal with 1:21 left in overtime after a replay review, lifting the surging Boston Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
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Tuukka Rask made 30 saves for the Bruins, including...
Bruins 4, Islanders 1
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For last night's Days of Y'Orr Pregame Show, I had a feature all set up where we looked at how much each Bruins cost per point scored, with cha-ching sound effects and everything, and then my Internet went and **** the bed. We were able to finish the DOYLive show but I had to cut the feature for time sake.
But I didn't want the graphics to go to waste.
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After wrapping up their longest road trip of the season, the B’s now have to deal with a red-hot team in the Senators that has won five games in a row and keeps rolling without its biggest stars. While it’s nice to be back at home, it’s never easy playing a divisional rival...
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Welcome to the TD Garden for tonight's contest between the Boston Bruins and visiting Ottawa Senators.
Finally, the Boston Bruins have come back to the TD Garden.
On the road for the past five games, the Bruins will begin a set of three games in four nights, beginning with tonight's contest against the Ottawa Senators. In the first of four meetings between this two...