On February 28, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins took their first loss to the Ottawa Senators in five games in 2011-12. The Bruins played lifeless hockey for most of the first two periods before finally turning up the intensity in the third. By then it was too late as Robin Lehner took home his first career shutout in his eighth NHL start. The 1-0 win brings the Senators within a point of the Bruins for first in the Northeast Division, but Boston still has four games in hand with 21 to play.
After five minutes of uneventful hockey, Tim Thomas stepped up and made a great save on a shot at the crease by Erik Condra. The Senators sent the game's first four shots on goal before the Bruins began to show life. The Patrice Bergeron line earned Boston's first scoring chance eight minutes into the opening period with Bergeron setting up Tyler Seguin at the crease. During a power play at 14:44, Erik Karlsson gave the Senators the first lead with a drive from the point for his 15th goal of the season. The Senators held a 13 to seven advantage in shots on goal as they took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Bruins got off to another slow start in the second period and again found some rhythm with a great shift by the Bergeron line. They caught a break as Thomas was out of position and Condra missed his easiest shot of the year at a wide open net. The Senators outplayed the Bruins for the second straight period, but missed their opportunities and kept the one-goal lead heading into the third. Thomas saved 30 through two periods as he single-handedly kept the Bruins in the game.
Bergeron's line started the third period strong and set the tempo for a much better effort. The Bruins had two power plays in the third, but failed to get anything going toward the net on either opportunity. After being outshot two-to-one for two periods, the Bruins more than doubled the Senators in shots on goal in the third. Thomas denied Zack Smith on a breakaway with four minutes to go to keep the Bruins alive. Boston finally tested Robin Lehner in the third period and sent 17 shots on goal, but took too long to get consistent pressure.
This was a letdown game after a good road trip and a pair of deadline trades which added some depth to the defense and third line. A great showing by Thomas and a break on Condra's shot kept the Bruins within a goal after two lackluster periods. Outside of the Bergeron line, the Bruins struggled to apply much offensive zone pressure and spent far too much time defending their own zone.
After being shut out five times in February, the Bruins look to turn the page when they open March against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, March 1. The Bruins are a perfect 3-0 against the Devils this season and New Jersey is riding a three-game losing streak into the matchup.
Ottawa at Boston, Tuesday, February 28, 2012, NHL--Yahoo! Sports
William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.
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