At least this time around there were more bodies heading up the runway onto the ice than down the runway into the locker room. The Causeway Street crowd was already buzzing heading into the TD Garden, where playoff hockey was returning for the first time in two years, but the energy level intensified when it was realized that David Krejci and Noel Acciari would both return to the lineup Monday evening.
Unfortunately, the decibel meter dropped quickly as the Senators took advantage of another late-game Bruins penalty that resulted in their second straight sudden-death victory, 4-3. Bobby Ryan netted the winner on a backhanded redirect as he crashed the net 5:43 into the extra period.
Despite the “Let’s Go Bruins” chants that began on the opening face off, Ottawa completely sucked the life out of the crowd, dominating the Bruins at both ends of the ice in the first stanza Monday, outshooting the home team 10-3.
Tuukka Rask was left hung out to dry at least three times in the opening 20 minutes. Rask went old school, stacking the pads to stop an Ottawa shot inside the left faceoff dot five minutes in, but Mike Hoffman got the Sens on the board two minutes later skating in alone from the Bruins blueline and beating Rask with a soft drag past the keeper’s outreached left pad.
Three Bruins defenders were caught flat footed just outside their own crease 25 seconds later and allowed a tic-tac-toe sequence, Victor Stalberg to Ryan to Derick Brassard for a 2-0 lead at 7:40.
Just when it seemed Boston may have packed it in for the night after falling behind 3-0 on Hoffman’s second tally of the game, Acciari woke the sleeping Bruins, tipping a knee-high, John-Michael Liles shot from the blueline at 6:05. Just 32 seconds later, 221 pound right-winger David Backes muscled away from Bobby Ryan, who had trouble handling the puck inside the Ottawa D-zone, and skated in alone to beat Craig Anderson to bring the B’s within one.
The Black and Gold evened the score at 3-3 on a David Pastrnak one timer from the left face off dot that beat Anderson short side at 13:51 during the second of back-to-back Ottawa penalties. Charlie McAvoy and Ryan Spooner got the assists.
Boston has been outshot in two of the three games. Rask made several key stops to keep the game close and finished with 28 saves total.
The series stays in Boston for Game 4 Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.