Bruins down Senators in potential 1st-round playoff preview

Greg Zanon scored the winner and Anton Khudobin stopped 44 shots as the Boston Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1 Thursday night.

Thomas, Chara, Bergeron sit out for Boston, which wins season series 5 games to 1

Ottawa Senators goalie Ben Bishop poke checks the puck away from Boston Bruins left wing Benoit Pouliot infront of the net during the first period of Thursday night's game in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Ottawa Senators faced a different Bruins goalie, but ended up with the same result.   

Anton Khudobin frustrated the Senators as he stopped 44 shots Thursday night and Boston defeated Ottawa 3-1.   

The Bruins chose to leave star goalie Tim Thomas in Boston, along with captain Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, but Khudobin was just as good as Thomas in his debut with the team.   

"I thought he played phenomenal," said Tyler Seguin. "Early in the game he was great and made some big saves and he played a solid 60 minutes."   

The 25-year-old admitted to having some butterflies early in the game, but was pleased by his overall performance.   

"I got a couple shots in the first couple minutes and I felt good," said Khudobin. "The guys helped me a lot from the start and [Marty] Turco talked to me and said 'let's go have some fun'."   

Benoit Pouliot, Greg Zanon and Milan Lucic scored for the Bruins (48-29-4).   

Jason Spezza had the lone goal for the Senators (41-30-10). Ben Bishop, who missed the last four games with a lower body injury, stopped 24 shots.   

A win would have allowed the Senators to clinch seventh in the Eastern Conference and while some may see this game as a missed opportunity, captain Daniel Alfredsson admits there has been some emotional letdown since clinching a playoff berth.  

"We really tried to stay upbeat and keep our game going after the four wins and clinching the playoff spot, but just emotionally it's been tough to regroup and get the game to where we want," said Alfredsson. "[Thursday] it was the same thing. Both teams played pretty good, but it's not close to being a playoff type game or the intensity that we're going to see next week. It's more mental than anything."

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEEDSPTSGRROW
1. y-New York Rangers109147
2. y-Boston Bruins100140
3. z-Florida Panthers92131
4. Pittsburgh Penguins106141
5. Philadelphia Flyers103143
6. New Jersey Devils100135
7. Ottawa Senators92135
8. Washington Capitals90137

x = clinched conference z = leads division

With the Bruins leading 2-1, Ottawa's Erik Karlsson missed a wide-open net with just over six minutes remaining in the third. The Senators had a number of great chances to tie the game, but were never able to capitalize.   

Shortly after, Lucic scored his 26th of the season to make it 3-1.   

With this being a match-up of potential first-round opponents more was expected from this game despite the absence of some key players, but Lucic summed it up perfectly.   

"To be honest it almost seemed like no one really wanted to get hurt," said Lucic. "We've had our battles against these guys and we don't back down from them and they don't back down from us."   

The Bruins made it 2-0 early in the second as Zanon's slapshot from the point caught a piece of Bishop's glove and trickled across the goal-line.   

"I don't know how it went in," admitted Bishop. "I must have just lost it for a second and it went off the tip of my glove. It's one of those one in a thousand."   

After a number of great chances the Senators, who had outshot the Bruins 17-7 in the first, finally found a way to beat Khudobin at the 13-minute mark of the second.   

Spezza, with his team-leading 34th of the season, fired a shot that hit the post and went in off Khudobin's back to cut the lead in half.   

The Bruins opened the scoring midway through the first period as Pouliot's tap-in completes a two-on-one with Brian Rolston.  

With just over one minute remaining Senators coach Paul MacLean was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When asked about the incident MacLean said he was ticked about a late icing call.   

The Bruins win allowed them to win the season series 5-1.