<
>

Homecoming B's eke out another W

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins don't need to watch the replay of Thursday's 2-1 overtime win over Ottawa to realize they did not play a solid game.

Returning home after a 4-1-0 road trip, the Bruins were sloppy. They were slow. But like so many times in the past, this team still found a way to win, and now Boston has a five-game winning streak.

Overall, the Bruins are 13-2-2 for 28 points, the best 17-game start in team history since the 1929-30 season (15-2-0 for 30 points).

From the opening faceoff, the Bruins knew it would be a tough game, especially with the injury-riddled Senators coming to town riding a five-game winning streak. Ottawa played well and won most of the battles. The Senators' Robin Lehner was outstanding between the pipes and finished with 44 saves.

However, the puck trickled past him at 3:38 of overtime, and even though the play was reviewed, it was clear Boston had won. The Bruins' Patrice Bergeron was credited with the tally. After the game, the celebratory music was blaring from the Bruins' locker room for only a few minutes because, despite the end result, Boston was not pleased with the effort.

Under coach Claude Julien, the Bruins have always been the type of team that thrives after a sloppy win such as Thursday's. In a strange way, the fashion in which they won will give them more motivation than if the Bruins had lost. If Boston had been dealt a loss, the easy excuse would have been the first game back on home ice after a long trip.

"We're the type of team, we're not satisfied with just a win," Bergeron said. "We know we need to be better and we know it's going to get tougher. It's one of those things that makes us realize we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and know we can't do that too often because more often than not we're going to end up on the wrong side of it."

Of the 17 games the Bruins have played in this lockout-shortened, 48-game season, five have gone to overtime. With Thursday's win, Boston is 1-1 in OT and 2-1 in shootouts.

"We've shown a lot of character this year, and it's something we need to keep going and be proud of," Bergeron said. "It's something that's important to have, and right now we have it and we have to keep it going."

When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, they learned Lady Luck plays a big role. A bounce here or a bounce there can make a big difference, and that has been the case again this season. Both goals the Bruins scored Thursday night weren't textbook.

Nathan Horton gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 5:48 of the first period when his attempted snap shot from the slot came off his stick more like a changeup and found its way past Lehner.

"We didn't play our best game and we still came out with a win," Horton said. "It's not how we want to play, but we did get the points. We'll move on to the next game and be better."

A strong point for the Bruins all season has been their penalty kill. They killed off 27 consecutive penalties before Ottawa netted a power-play goal at 14:38 of the second period to tie the game at 1-all.

Fortunately for Boston, the PK was instrumental late in the game after Milan Lucic was given a penalty for closing his hand on the puck behind the Ottawa net at 19:28 of the third period. Boston's PK killed off the 5-on-4 portion of it during the waning seconds of regulation, then finished off the remaining 1:28 while on a 4-on-3 to start overtime.

"Our PK came up big at the end of the third and the beginning of the overtime," Julien said. "I don't think we're getting rattled by getting scored on every once in a while, and it was nice to see the guys bounce back."

The Bruins responded with the victory, despite not playing their best game.

Bergeron thought the puck went in but understood why the officials wanted a second look.

"I knew it went in, especially on the second try," Bergeron said. "It was one of their guys who actually put it in, but I was sure. I was actually worried the ref blew the whistle, but he didn't and we're pretty happy with it."

Afterward, Julien called it a "tough grind" and said he hopes his team responds with a better effort when the Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 1 p.m. ET Saturday at the Garden.

"We didn't have our A-game tonight, and a lot of it was because I didn't think we skated as well as we're used to skating," he said. "We were second on the puck on a lot of occasions, so it made it a little bit tougher for us to come up with a win. Again, you've got to give your guys credit for battling through it and finding ways."

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask played well again to improve his record to 11-1-2. He made timely saves and finished with 30. He's playing with so much confidence this season, and his teammates have rewarded him in the win column.

"We call him 'Felix the Cat' because he's so quick," Horton said. "He's been doing that all year, every game. ... He's such a great guy and you want to see him do well and obviously he's been amazing for us."

Thursday's win was only Boston's seventh game on home ice this season. Finally, the Bruins will play a stretch of games at the Garden (five of the next six) so it will be important to build off their win against the Senators.

"At the end of the day, it's the results," Julien said. "We know we're a better team. We know we can play better. We didn't have our A-game, so you turn the page and say, 'Well done,' as far as battling through it. I'm certainly not criticizing our team for how they played because they still battled through.

"Saturday's game I'm looking for our team to be better and hopefully we can get into our groove at home."