BOSTON — It was the way you might have expected this game to end.
“I don’t think we saw a pretty goal tonight of the three, so I guess it was fitting,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday night after Patrice Bergeron’s deflection of Dennis Seidenberg’s shot from inside the blue line squeezed off and then through goalie Robin Lehner to give Boston its fifth straight win — a 2-1 overtime decision over Ottawa.
The goal, scored with 1:21 left in overtime, snapped Ottawa’s five-game winning streak. It also gave the Bruins (13-2-2) the win in their first game back off a 4-1 road trip.
Coaches fear these games. They worry about their teams having “heavy legs” in the first game back off the road. Julien saw those heavy legs Thursday, but his guys made it through, with Tuukka Rask making 30 saves to improve his record to 11-1-2.
“We’re obviously happy that we found a way, but we’re not satisfied, that’s for sure,” said Bergeron. “It could have been a lot better, and I think Ottawa played a great game and kept us to the outside … Tuukka kept us in the game for sure.”
Rask, the new No. 1 after Tim Thomas decided not to play out the final year of his contract, made a nifty stop on Kyle Turris some 30 seconds before Bergeron won a draw and moved to the slot to tip Seidenberg’s shot.
“Right off the faceoff, I was trying to get open for Seids for a tip, and he made a great shot, actually,” said Bergeron, who scored his fourth goal of the season after his 17th faceoff win of the night on 26 tries. “I think that’s what he wanted to do is find my stick.”
The goal was originally waved off, but was clearly in and the call was quickly overturned upon review in Toronto.
The teams appeared headed for a shootout, with both teams scoring fluky-type goals.
Nathan Horton (No. 7) fanned on a shot from in front that trickled through Lehner, making his first NHL start of the season; and Jim O’Brien (No. 5) tied it when four Bruins in front of Rask failed to clear the puck (Boston’s David Krejci actually pushed the puck to O’Brien as teammate Zdeno Chara had it in his skates). All this after Kaspars Daugavins was stopped on a breakaway but didn’t give up on the puck and centered it from behind the net.
Julien said after the game he has already developed the comfort level with Rask that he had with Thomas, who sits at home in Colorado, his rights having been dealt to the Islanders.
Ottawa, given up for dead with an injury list that includes losing Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza both gone for the year, yielded just its eighth goals and ninth goals in the last six games.
Lehner, who shut the Bruins out last February for one of his four NHL wins, made 44 saves.
“Coming into a building like this with probably the hottest team in our conference and we played toe to toe with them,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. “(Lehner) seemed comfortable and aggressive at the right times.”
The win ended a two-game home losing streak for the Bruins, who hadn’t won at home since Jan. 29 but started a stretch of three home games in four days.
The Bruins won after killing off a penalty called with 31.6 seconds left in regulation that led to a 1:29 spell of 4-on-3 to start the OT. Rask then made the big stop on Turris.
The Senators tied the game with the first power play goal the Bruins allowed in their last 27 shorthanded chances. Meanwhile, Boston went 0-for-3 on the power play and are 0-for-26 for the season at home.
NOTES: The Bruins, who host Tampa Bay Saturday, have rival Montreal coming in Sunday night, marking a return of winger Michael Ryder, just dealt back to the Canadiens by Dallas (for Erik Cole) amid reports Boston was trying to bring him back. Ryder won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Bruins. “As long as Mike is happy, I’m happy for him,” said Boston coach Claude Julien, who also coach Ryder in juniors, the minors and with the Canadiens. “He was a good player for us and a good player for me for many, many years. His value is worth something. When you’re traded, somebody wants you. Last year, he scored 35 goals, so he’s not a bad player.” The Bruins were also said to be interested in, among others, Alfredsson, who may well stay put in light of the club’s recent success and standing, even with all the injuries. … The Senators opened a five-game road trip that is not their longest of this abbreviated season. They begin a seven-game trip, also in Boston, April 2. … With Rask playing his fifth straight game, Anton Khudobin may well start for the Bruins against the Lightning Saturday.
Maple Leafs 5, Islanders 4 (OT): Captain Dion Phaneuf scored 1:11 into overtime and Nazem Kadri recorded his first career hat trick to give visiting Toronto the victory in goaltender James Reimer’s return from injury.
Phaneuf picked up a loose puck in the Islanders’ zone and fired a shot that trickled past Evgeni Nabokov and into the net after the Maple Leafs squandered a two-goal lead. Kadri’s hat trick was the team’s first since Joffrey Lupul scored three goals on Nov. 2, 2011.
James van Riemsdyk netted his team-leading 12th goal of the season to give the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead 90 seconds after Kadri leveled the contest with his second tally of the game. Reimer made 23 saves in his first start since straining his MCL on Feb. 11.
Kyle Okposo responded with a goal and two assists while Josh Bailey and defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky and Andrew MacDonald scored their respective first goals of the season. Nabokov stopped 23 shots for the Islanders, who fell to 2-8-1 at home in 2013.
With New York trailing 4-2 in the third period, MacDonald blasted a slap shot from the right faceoff circle on a feed from Okposo. Okposo then tied the game midway through the period with his first goal in 19 games.
Rangers 4, Lightning 1: Rick Nash recorded a goal, an assist and had 12 shots on goal in his return from injury as New York defeated visiting Tampa Bay to end a four-game winless streak.
Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and defenseman Marc Staal added goals for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist made 14 of his 24 saves in the third period for New York, which has swept all three games from the Lightning this season.
Martin St. Louis scored for the Lightning and Steven Stamkos added an assist, but his six-game goal-scoring streak was snapped. Mathieu Garon kept Tampa Bay in it with 38 saves, making his third start in four games.
Hagelin whipped a shot past Garon from the left circle 7:23 into the game and Stepan moved toward the left post to knock home Ryan Callahan’s pass 1:17 later for a 2-0 lead. Despite being outshot 20-3, the Lightning cut the lead in half when St. Louis redirected Eric Brewer’s pass behind Lundqvist with 3:51 left in the session.
Staal scored on the power play with 3:52 remaining in the second period, reaching over a fallen Garon to tap in a loose puck after a scramble for a 3-1 lead. Nash, who missed four games with an undisclosed injury, weaved his way through the defense with 1:33 left to cap the scoring.