By Stacey Kilpatrick
BOSTON, MA – The Boston Bruins [46-24-11] won their final regular season home game, 3-1 on Saturday at the TD Garden against the Ottawa Senators [32-40-10] in pretty even play.
“I talked about Ottawa, they’ve been pretty good in the last month, and as you saw today they’re a good young team, they wanted to leave a good impression in their last game,” said Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien.
But, their impression didn’t matter to Bruins fans and Julien didn’t appear to be thinking on any level of the team across the border.
“A lot of good things came out of today’s win,” Julien added.
The Bruins got on board with 7:07 remaining in the first when Shawn Thornton skated up center ice, passed to Gregory Campbell at the right of the net, and Campbell behind-the-back passed to Daniel Paille for the score.
It looked like Boston was going to head into the locker room at the end of the first up 1-0, but with 1:33 left, with assists from Ottawa’s Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza, Bobby Butler tied it up 1-1 as he netted his 10th goal of the season, earning his fourth consecutive game with points.”
The second really started off at 18:52. Senator Ryan Shannon received a four-minute high-sticking penalty and out of nowhere on the power play Bruin Nathan Horton gave the Bruins a 2-1 advantage by making his 26th goal of the season, with assists from Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic.
Horton followed up with another play with 10:36 remaining in the second: throwing up his deuces against Ottawa’s Zach Smith and earning his seventh major fight of the season. My first NHL fight — what a glorious moment in time. The mostly silent audience of 17,565 had begun to actually use their voice boxes.
While some spectators and Ottawa fans might feel that Horton is too much on the “dark side” with all his fist throwing and jabbing, Julien said he’s not worried. Horton will be good to go for the postseason and he’ll play how he plays.
“Well I think we’d all like to have the right answer and I’d like to stand in here and say I absolutely know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to have to wait and see,” Julien said.
“But the way [Horton’s] come around in the second half of the year, how I think his whole attitude and his approach to the game has really gotten better and better. I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be playing (in the postseason) because he’s playing with an attitude and that attitude’s been with him for a while now and you saw today with what a lot of people would have talked about a meaningless game, so I’m not worried about him. I think he’s ready and excited about the playoffs.”
Rich Peverley ended out the game with 5:08 left, giving the B’s their third and final goal of the night, with a little flip trick in front of the net for the score.
“[Peverley] always has good speed,” Julien said. “He’s got decent hands and we’ve seen him score some of those highlight goals by taking it to the net. And he’s usually pretty good at that and I thought his feet were moving well tonight, and his line mates, they were able to create a lot. So that’s I think, moving forward you want to be able to have that kind of depth and know that if your first or second line doesn’t score then you’ve got your third or even fourth scoring for you. Right now it feels comforting to know that other lines are contributing.
“I liked the line with Peverley and [Micheal] Ryder and [Chris] Kelly,” Julien continued. “We moved those guys around a little bit. They were great for us and they created some good opportunities.
“[Tomas] Kaberle I thought played extremely well for us in the back end; you could see him sharing the puck and moving it up the ice.
“I think we could have had a few more goals as well,” said Julien. “It was obviously a lot more efficient than it was the other night, so a lot of good things to take out of tonight.”
The Bruins won to a sold-out crowd of 17,565, making this the team’s first season since their 1972-1973 campaign that they sold out every home game.
Tim Thomas earned a [.9382] save average after Saturday’s win with 1,699 saves on 1,811 shots faced this season, making it the best save percentage in an NHL season since the league started keeping track during the 1982-83 season.
“Well he’s had a big year for us,” Julien said. “He had some great saves again for us tonight.”
And Mark Recchi, 80 games this season, played in his 1,652nd NHL game, securing fourth place on the NHL’s all-time games played list.
Yes, this was a fantastic final regular season home game for the Bruins.