Spezza scores winner as Sens slip past Bruins
Jason Spezza pulled a Daniel Alfredsson on Saturday, and the end result was a sixth straight victory for the Ottawa Senators.
In his first game back in the lineup since mid-December, Spezza scored the game-winning goal as the Sens won 2-1, beating the Bruins in Boston for the second time in two weeks.
Spezza, who missed 20 games due to a knee injury, scored with three minutes left in the second period to break a 1-1 tie, and Ottawa rode goalie Brian Elliott the rest of the way when Boston outshot the Senators 13-2 in the final frame.
"I knew the guys were playing well, we went through a real tough stretch and we kind of got things together a bit so I wanted to play well," Spezza said.
That's not to say Alfredsson slowed down his torrid scoring pace. The Ottawa captain potted the other Sens goal, his fifth in five games and ninth point in that span, as he continues to light up the scoreboard since returning from a shoulder injury.
The Swedish Olympian had a hat trick against Boston on Monday during Ottawa's 5-1 pasting of the Bruins.
"Everyone is contributing," said Alfredsson, and that includes better play from Ottawa's defence and netminders — especially Elliott, who's been in net for four straight wins and has only surrendered five goals in that span.
"I think we obviously got some key players back and our system is being executed very well," Elliott said. "I think teams are having trouble with that."
The improvement is showing in the standings: As of Saturday afternoon, the Senators (28-21-4) were fifth in the Eastern Conference, five points up on sixth and only three behind Pittsburgh for fourth.
But the Bruins (23-19-8) are at the opposite end of the ledger. Wracked with injuries, Boston is in a 2-7-1 slide and has lost four straight for the first time since Dec. 2007. The slump has dropped them into the thick of a fierce fight for the eighth and last playoff spot in the East.
"I'm not going to make excuses here, [we] gotta play better," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Everybody. [We] have to be better as a team. You play with emotion, you play with attitude, you play with a lot of things and you gotta find that if you want to really turn the corner."
Five regulars are out of the Boston lineup, as Marc Savard, Byron Bitz and Marco Sturm are still out of action.
Daniel Paille scored the Bruins' only goal, as Boston outshot Ottawa 33-23 overall. Boston goalie Tim Thomas made 21 saves in a losing cause.
Both teams played the first period Saturday pretty even until an Ottawa power play put the Bruins on the ropes. Thomas made several big saves and had some help from the post to kill off the disadvantage.
Bruins caught napping
But Alfredsson broke through with six seconds left when he caught the Bruins napping when Nick Foligno slid him a pass during a 3-on-3. Alfredsson used his speed to get past the defenders and cut in on Thomas before sliding the puck through the netminder's legs.
Paille brought the Bruins even at 8:26 of the second, managing to get a bad-angle shot past Elliott's glove side.
After the goal Boston began to press, and looked like it had the lead when Mark Recchi fired a centring pass home with eight minutes to go in the period. But the goal was disallowed after a lengthy review because the Bruins forward kicked the puck into the net.
A few minutes later, Spezza scored his first goal since mid-December. He received a great no-look pass from Alexei Kovalev on the rush, and buried the puck past Thomas's blocker side for a 2-1 Ottawa lead at 16:39.
The Sens had a goal disallowed themselves with a little over a minute to go in the period when Mike Fisher tipped a puck past Thomas with a high stick.
With files from The Canadian Press