Senators fall short against Bruins

Unfortunately for Robin Lehner and the Ottawa Senators, history didn’t repeat itself Thursday.

Senators fall short against Bruins
Nathan Horton #18 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck against Jakob Silfverberg #33 of the Ottawa Senators at the TD Garden on February 28, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

BOSTON — Unfortunately for Robin Lehner and the Ottawa Senators, history didn’t repeat itself Thursday.
One year after Lehner posted his first and only NHL shutout here, the Boston Bruins edged Lehner and the Senators 2-1, in overtime, when Patrice Bergeron deflected a Dennis Seidenberg shot past the Senators goaltender.
The officials on the ice originally waved off the goal, but after review, it was ruled that the puck squeezed over the goal line.
After a slow start, it was a wild, entertaining finish as both teams worked to extend lengthy winning streaks.
The Bruins have now won five straight, while the Senators lost for the first time in six games.
The Senators did, however, pick up a valuable point from the overtime loss. The Senators had won their previous three extra-time games, all by shootout.
Lehner was also outstanding, making 40 saves in regulation and 44 overall.
Senators coach Paul MacLean played yet another hunch, giving Lehner his first start of the season.
It was a somewhat surprising decision, considering that Ben Bishop has been spectacular since replacing the injured Craig Anderson, including a 44-save effort in Monday’s 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
But who’s to argue now?
Somehow, the Senators have picked up at least a point in six straight games without defenceman Erik Karlsson, centre Jason Spezza, goaltender Craig Anderson and a laundry list of others out injured.
To most observers, it seemed like a no-brainer that the Senators would go back to Bishop, considering he stole the victory Monday.
Guess again. MacLean says the decision was based “a little bit” on Lehner’s performance on Feb. 28, 2012. The Senators coach also said it was about recognizing how well Lehner has played in the AHL this season and about utilizing every element of the netminding depth within the organization.
The netminding situation is as unlikely as it is impressive.
Anderson, out of the lineup with a sprained ankle, leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.49) and save percentage (.952). Ben Bishop, third in the league in save percentage (.935), served as Lehner’s back-up.
Does anybody dare guess who starts Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers?
Anderson may not be that far away from returning, either. He was on the ice with the team Thursday morning and is expected to take part in a full practice Friday in Philadelphia.
Asked whether it’s possible that Anderson could play either Saturday against the Flyers or Sunday against the New York Islanders, MacLean said, “Right now, I would say no, it’s too early to tell that.”
For his part, Lehner was all business leading up to the game, not making much of the anniversary.
“I’ve played lots of games this year and I’m just excited to get back here,” he said. “I’m taking it game by game.”
He recognized the situation and the fact he may have to wait a while for his next big-league start.
“It’s part of the process sometimes. I’ve got to slow myself down and realize that I’m 21, still at the early part of my career, and see where it takes me. It’s a long, long road ahead and it’s a long way to go. But every practice, every game, it’s a step in my career.”
The Bruins outshot the Senators 29-20 through the first two periods. After a slow, tight-checking opening period, the action picked up in the second period.
Jim O’Brien tied the game 1-1 on a power play with 5:22 remaining in the second. It was the first power-play goal allowed by the Bruins since Feb. 6, ending a stretch where they had killed off 27 consecutive opposition power plays. It was hardly a conventional power-play goal.
After Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped Kaspars Daugavins on a breakaway, Daugavins threw the puck back into the crease, where Zack Smith and O’Brien whacked away until the puck slipped through Rask into the net.
The Bruins’ game-opening goal by Nathan Horton was hardly textbook, either.
As Horton was driving to net and about to shoot, Smith slowed the attempt with his stick, but the change of pace caught Lehner off guard and the puck slipped between his legs.
Lehner was given a chance to ease his way into the dreadfully dull first period.
The Bruins outshot the Senators 11-5, but there were limited scoring chances.
Lehner made a pad save off Chris Kelly, a shoulder save off Rich Peverley and stopped a Chris Bourque deflection, but his other saves came from long-range shots.
CHEERS
Patrice Bergeron, Bruins. His nifty deflection of Dennis Seidenberg’s shot slipped through Lehner and barely crossed the goal line for the game winner.
JEERS
Senators power play. Yes, the Senators scored with the man advantage in the second period, but they couldn’t cash in late in regulation and overtime when Milan Lucic received a delay-of-game penalty.
WHY THEY LOST
After winning three straight shootout games, the Senators were pushing their luck a little to try and pull out another victory after regulation. Robin Lehner did his job, but it’s difficult to keep winning when you only score once per game.
THE GAMBLE PAYS OFF
With the Bruins leading 1-0 midway through the third period, Chris Kelly was all alone as he was breaking for a loose puck inside the Senators zone. Not so fast. Lehner came out of his net, sprawled and whacked the puck over the blue-line, wiping out the chance.

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