Bruins earn convincing win over Senators
BOSTON — The good news for the Boston Bruins is that they scored five goals and handled the Ottawa Senators in the first game back from the holiday break Wednesday night.
And perhaps even better news for the Bruins is that their top line didn’t register a point in the 5-1 victory.
Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak is a prolific trio, but Wednesday was limited to five shots on goal in Boston’s fifth win in a row.
“The last month or so everybody’s been contributing,” goaltender Tuukka Rask said after Riley Nash had two goals and an assist to lead to the easy win. “We always talk about it — that’s what we need a lot of nights and it’s been happening for sure.”
Nash, scoring his first two goals since Nov. 28, matched his career high for points.
“I wish it happened more often,” Nash said of scoring. “I seem to be a little bit snake bit this year. Usually it kind of comes in bunches. Hopefully I can keep that rolling and feel good and maybe shoot the puck a little more.”
David Backes and Danton Heinen each posted a goal and an assist for the Bruins (20-10-5). Defenseman Kevan Miller scored his first goal in 35 games, and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk had two assists for Boston, which is 14-3-1 in its past 18 games.
Heinen and Miller were each a plus-4.
Rask made 25 saves, improving to 9-0-1 in his past 10 starts. It is the second time in his career he has posted points in 10 straight games. He has a 1.41 goals-against average and .946 save percentage during his personal streak.
“We know we have a good hockey team with good players,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “If we play to our way with our strength, we are effective. It’s something that you can be looking at the, the record, but you want to look at every game as a challenge.
“It’s easy to get comfortable and complacent. It’s hard to play with that confidence every game. It’s easy to lose it. We want to stay on top of that.”
The win ended Boston’s six-game losing streak against the Senators — three of the games at home. Ottawa also knocked the Bruins out of last year’s playoffs in six games, something the Bruins were thinking about heading into this one.
The loss was the fourth in a row for the floundering Senators, who are ahead of only two teams in the overall NHL standings. Ottawa (11-16-8) has lost eight of its last 11 (2-7-2) and is 3-13-3 in its last 19.
“We can’t find ways to push back — and today was another one of those,” said Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson, who was outmuscled and then beaten down the ice by Nash for a goal.
“I think as of right now we’re not playing up to the standard that we expect of ourselves and I think everybody knows it. I don’t think there’s an answer I can give you that will satisfy everyone including ourselves. We have to do a lot better job, especially early in the game, to try and hang in there and have a fighting chance.”
Defenseman Thomas Chabot scored for the Senators on a slap shot with his team down 3-0 in the second period.
“Overall as Erik probably said, we’re not proud how we played,” Chabot said. “We’re going to have to get to work and be better.”
While Rask improved to 12-8-3, Senators goalie Craig Anderson was shaky at the other end, making just 18 saves. His career record against the Bruins fell to 12-12-0.
Miller and Heinen scored 3:06 apart in the first period to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead, and Boston never looked back, with Nash scoring the third and fourth goals.
“He doesn’t give himself too much credit,” Rask said of Nash. “He’s a skilled guy.”
NOTES: Senators RW Bobby Ryan, who missed one game with a finger injury, returned to action. ... Boston D Adam McQuaid, who has been out since Oct. 19 with a broken leg, has been cleared to play, but there was no word on whether he would return as early as Thursday night, when the Bruins visit the Washington Capitals. The Bruins have lost 11 straight games to the Caps, two of them — both at home — this season. Anton Khudobin will start for the Bruins as Rask has one win in 16 career starts against Washington. ... Boston Fs David Krejci (back) and Peter Cehlarik (lower body) are practicing but didn’t play. ... The Senators host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night and the Bruins on Saturday.