Former Ottawa Senators defender and current Boston Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, scored the game-winning goal almost midway through the third period as Tuukka Rask backstopped the Bruins to a, 2-1, win over the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday night.
Rask (12-2-2 record, 2.10 goals against average, .931 save percentage in 16 games played) made 33 saves on 34 shots against for a .971 SV% in the win.
Sens goaltender, Anders Nilsson (7-5-1, 2.58 GAA, .927 SV% in 13 GP) turned aside 19 out of 21 shots faced for a .905 SV% in the loss.
Boston extended their current winning streak to five games and improved to 17-3-5 (39 points) on the season, while holding onto 1st place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the entire league.
Ottawa fell to an 11-13-1 (23 points) record, but stuck in 7th place in the Atlantic.
The Bruins also improved to 8-3-1 on the road this season, while the Senators stumbled to 7-5-0 at home.
Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), David Backes (upper body), Zach Senyshyn (lower body), Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Brett Ritchie (upper body) on Wednesday.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor changes to his lineup from Tuesday night’s, 8-1, win in Montreal to Wednesday night’s matchup in Ottawa.
After making his NHL debut against the Canadiens (and playing four games in five nights, split between the NHL and AHL), Jack Studnicka was a healthy scratch on Wednesday with Brendan Gaunce making his Bruins debut against the Sens.
Gaunce was slated between Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle as the second line center, while the rest of the forward lines were left untouched.
Steven Kampfer went into the lineup in place of Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing alongside Matt Grzelcyk.
Studnicka and Clifton were Boston’s only healthy scratches against the Senators.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the B’s announced they had signed Coyle and Chris Wagner to multi-year extensions.
Coyle, 27, signed a six-year extension worth $5.250 million per season and Wagner, 28, signed a three-year extension worth $1.350 million per season.
At puck drop, David Krejci surpassed Don Marcotte for sole possession of 9th place for most games played as a Bruin, having appeared in his 869th career NHL game on Wednesday.
Midway through the period, Senators head coach, D.J. Smith, lost count and had too many skaters on the ice, resulting in a minor infraction at 14:50 of the first period that was served by Brady Tkachuk.
The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing power play.
Late in the opening frame, Gaunce slashed Jean-Gabriel Pageau at 18:42 and was sent to the box with an infraction.
The Senators were not successful on the resulting skater advantage.
Heading into the first intermission, the game was still tied, 0-0, with the Sens outshooting the B’s, 9-3. Ottawa also led in takeaways (4-3) and hits (13-9), while Boston led in blocked shots (13-2), giveaways (3-0) and faceoff win percentage (54-46).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play entering the second period.
There were no goals scored nor any penalties called in the second period, yielding end-to-end action that was dominated by one team or the other at times, as both the B’s and Sens racked up zone time without anything to show on the scoreboard.
Through 40 minutes of play, Boston and Ottawa were still tied, 0-0, despite the Senators leading in shots on goal, 24-10– including a, 15-7 advantage in the second period alone.
The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (8-4) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Senators led in hits (25-24).
Both teams had five takeaways each and remained 0/1 on the power play entering the third period.
Just 41 seconds into the third period, Chris Tierney caught the Bruins in the midst of a line change and sent Thomas Chabot (3) up-ice and on a breakaway, whereby the Senators defender flipped a shot over Rask’s glove side to give Ottawa the game’s first lead, 1-0.
Tierney (9) had the only assist on Chabot’s goal.
Less than two minutes later, Anthony Duclair was penalized for interference and presented Boston with their 2nd power play of the night at 2:09 of the third period.
Though the B’s didn’t score while on the advantage, they did capitalize in the vulnerable minute as Brad Marchand (18) slipped a shot through Nilsson’s five-hole after dancing around a Sens skater upon receiving a pass from Anders Bjork.
Bjork (2) and Sean Kuraly (7) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins tied the game, 1-1, at 5:15.
About a few minutes later, after Boston’s fourth line went to work deep into the attacking zone, Joakim Nordstrom freed the puck to Gaunce, who then sent the rubber biscuit back to the point where Chara (5) blasted one of his trademark slap shots to give Boston their first lead of the night, 2-1.
Gaunce (1) and Nordstrom (1) collected the assists on Chara’s game-winning goal at 8:45 of the third period.
With the primary assist, Gaunce recorded his first point with the Bruins in his Boston debut, while Chara became the oldest defender in NHL history to record a four-game point streak, surpassing Chris Chelios’ previous record with the Detroit Red Wings set in the 2003-04 season.
At the time Chelios’ streak began, he was 42 years and 62 days old. Chara, on the other hand, was 42 years and 248 days old.
Fittingly, the Senators and their fans gave Chara a standing ovation for surpassing 1,500 career NHL games earlier this month.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Wagner cross checked Tyler Ennis and cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:53.
The Senators did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.
With 1:39 remaining in regulation, Smith pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but Boston’s defense and Rask stood tall, casting aside scoring chance after scoring chance in the dying minute of the action.
At the final horn, the Bruins had secured the, 2-1, win in Ottawa, despite being outshot by the Senators, 34-21.
Boston held an, 11-10, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone and finished the night leading in blocked shots (21-15) and giveaways (11-9).
Ottawa left their own building with the advantage in hits (34-30) and faceoff win% (51-49).
Both teams finished the night 0/2 on the power play.
Boston finished their quick two-game road trip 2-0-0 and returns home to debut their new third jersey against the New York Rangers in a Black Friday matinee in the NHL’s 2019 Discover Thanksgiving Showdown.