The Bruins can at least look to a stellar recent track record against Ottawa as they return from the West Coast on Monday for the first of two home meetings with the Senators this week.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson(notes) had missed 11 games with a separated shoulder before Saturday’s game at Montreal, when he made an immediate impact in his return with a goal and two assists in the Senators’ 4-2 win.
“It’s a great boost for us, not only his skill but that’s what his leadership is, by going out there and leading by example, working hard every time he’s on the ice and being reliable,” Senators defenseman Chris Phillips(notes) said. “That’s what he’s all about and it’s a big mental boost for everyone to see him back in there.”
While the Senators (24-21-4) are still without top-line forwards Jason Spezza(notes) and Milan Michalek(notes), they’ve won back-to-back games following a five-game losing streak, with goalie Mike Brodeur(notes) providing some stability.
Brodeur has made the last two starts with Pascal Leclaire(notes) out and Brian Elliott(notes) struggling and dealing with an illness. After shutting out the New York Rangers with 32 saves in a 2-0 win Thursday, he stopped 30 Montreal shots on Saturday.
“I’m floating right now, that’s for sure,” Brodeur said.
The 26-year-old rookie got plenty of help from his teammates against the Canadiens - especially from Alfredsson, who had his first three-point game in nearly two months.
“We’re very happy and hopefully we can keep this little streak going,” Alfredsson said.
A regulation win at Boston would bring Ottawa into a tie with the Bruins for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and it would give the Senators their first three-game winning streak since they won four straight Nov. 17-23.
The Bruins, however, have won all four meetings with Ottawa this season to improve to 11-1-0 in the last 12 games in the series. The Senators have lost six straight at Boston, where they will play again Saturday.
Most responsible for Boston’s success against Ottawa is goaltender Tim Thomas(notes), who has won 11 consecutive starts versus the Senators, posting a 1.43 goals-against average and three shutouts. He has stopped 102 of 109 shots in four wins against Ottawa this season.
Boston (23-16-8) is simply hoping for points as it tries to get healthy. Even as center David Krejci(notes) and defenseman Mark Stuart(notes) returned from injuries Saturday at Los Angeles, leading goal-scorer Marco Sturm(notes) and defenseman Dennis Wideman(notes) went out of the lineup due to injury or illness.
The Bruins still salvaged three points during their three-game trip, following up a 2-1 shootout win at San Jose with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings. Boston could have come away with more against Los Angeles, where the team blew a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
“We were very short-handed, I’ll be honest. But it was positive overall,” Thomas said. “Even though the bite of not getting the two points might not feel good, if you look at the big picture, it was a good trip. We very easily could have came out with six out of six points.”
With their offense depleted, the Bruins have been relying on superior defense. Thomas has a 2.09 GAA in eight starts since Christmas, and Boston’s league-leading penalty kill has allowed four goals in its last 56 chances (7.1 percent).