Lehner picks up first NHL shutout as Senators subdue Bruins

Twenty minutes one night. Half the game the next. The Ottawa Senators had even managed to stay with the Boston Bruins for two periods once this season. Yet not until Tuesday, when they dominated the Bruins from start to finish in a 1-0 victory at the TD Garden, had the Senators been able to produce a wire-to-wire effort against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Lehner picks up first NHL shutout as Senators subdue Bruins

BOSTON – Perhaps Robin Lehner can produce another spectacular finish to what appeared to be a lost season.

Lehner, the Swedish sub for injured Ottawa Senators number one goaltender Craig Anderson, delivered his first career shutout in a 1-0 victory here Tuesday, ending the Senators eight-game losing streak against the Boston Bruins that went all the way back to November 13, 2010.

Erik Karlsson – who else? — scored the game’s lone goal, on a power play in the first period, and Lehner saved his best for last to preserve the victory.

He made 17 of his 32 saves in the third period as the Bruins pressed hard after the Senators dominated the opening two periods. The first two periods belonged to Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who kept his team alive despite being thoroughly outplayed by the Senators. Thomas stopped 37 of 38 shots.

With the victory, the Senators leapfrogged past both New Jersey and Philadelphia into fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings and to within one of the Bruins for the Northeast Division lead. The standings figure to change, though. Boston and Philadelphia have played four fewer games, while New Jersey has played three fewer than the Senators.

“It’s up there,” Lehner said, when asked where the shutout ranked among his career highlights. “Obviously, it’s not as big as last year for me (when he won the AHL MVP during the Binghamton Senators run to the Calder Cup title), there were some records for my country and the organization for being so young, but it’s up there.”

Lehner, who says it was an honour to play against Thomas, credited his teammates with not allowing many second opportunities, but he was also able to fight through traffic in front in the third period to make some difficult stops, including trapper saves off David Krejci and Benoit Pouliot.

Last season, Lehner had some brief NHL success, but battled injuries and spent a long time as a back-up in Binghamton before inheriting the starting AHL job with Binghamton on the brink of elimination in the first round of the playoffs.

This season, he has dealt with injuries, a suspension and sub-par play with Binghamton. The Senators also traded for the promising Ben Bishop on Sunday, putting pressure on Lehner to respond.

Yet in two games since being recalled to replace Anderson, he has been sharp, posting back-to-back wins, including Tuesday’s shutout in a goaltending duel.

“He played with composure and gave us a lot of confidence,” said coach Paul MacLean.

Karlsson, whose ridiculous hot streak continued with his first period power play goal, says his Swedish compatriot was ready for the challenge of subbing for Anderson.

“I think coming up here (to the NHL), it’s a little bit easier to read the game, it’s a bit more structured,” said Karlsson. “I think over the course of his years here, he’s getting better at knowing what’s going on around him and reading the play better.”

Karlsson also provided the only goal of the game, delivering on a Senators power play which is red-hot, ranked seventh in the NHL before Tuesday’s games.

“A lot of games are going to be decided with special units and our power play been stepping up last few games,” said Karlsson. “It doesn’t matter how you win the game. We probably could have scored a few more and they probably could have scored a couple. There were just two goalies who really played well.”

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GAME FILE

WHY THEY WON: The Bruins came on late, but the Senators produced their first complete game in five meetings against Boston this season, controlling play in the first two periods.

STUD: Robin Lehner, Senators. Lehner wasn’t tested much early, but he showed his grace under pressure in the third period, stopping 17 shots to register his first career NHL shutout. He has answered the challenge of having Ben Bishop come to the organization.

DUD: Tyler Seguin, Bruins. Seguin’s bad first period penalty – an interference call on Bobby Butler deep in the Senators zone – paved the way for Erik Karlsson’s goal, the only one of the game.

THE POINT PARADE: Karlsson’s first period power play goal extended his point scoring streak to eight games (7 goals, 11 assists). Jason Spezza, who picked up an assist on the goal, now has points in 10 straight (eight goals, 13 assists).

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