OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — The surging Boston Bruins cooled off Ottawa and increased their lead over the Senators for the final playoff spot in the East.
Ryan Spooner scored his second and third goals of the season and Tuukka Rask celebrated his birthday by stopping 39 shots to help lead the Bruins to the 3-1 win Tuesday night.
“We got the points we wanted,” said Rask. “It was good — it wasn’t easy. I thought our first period was our best and after that didn’t play our best, but we got the win and that’s all we need.”
After losing six games straight to open the door for other teams to get back in the playoff race, the Bruins (34-22-10) have won three straight and six of eight. Loui Eriksson added the other Bruins goal.
Matt Puempel scored for Ottawa (30-24-11) as Craig Anderson faced 22 shots in his second straight start after missing 17 games.
The loss was Ottawa’s first in regulation since Feb. 16 and ended a nine-game points streak where Ottawa went 8-0-1 to get back into the playoff race.
“We’ve still got 17 games left, we’ve got a game in hand and one more game against (Boston) so I’m definitely not going to rule us out I’ll tell you that much,” said Ottawa center Kyle Turris.
Boston extended its lead over Ottawa to seven points for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The teams meet for the final time March 19.
Despite being outshot 21-10, Boston took a 3-0 lead in the second period.
Boston opened the scoring on the power play early in the second as Spooner was left all alone in front and beat Anderson to the far side.
The Bruins made it 2-0 at the 15-minute mark as Eriksson made a move around Cody Ceci, then waited for Anderson to bite before scoring his 17th of the season.
Just over one minute later Boston made it 3-0 as Spooner scored his second of the game. He took a pass from Milan Lucic and put it in at the side of the net.
The Senators had a number of solid chances, but Rask was perfect on this 28th birthday and got help as Ottawa hit the post three times in the second.
“I think they had us on our heels from the second period on and if it wasn’t for (Rask) it could have been a different outcome,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “But having said that, we won a big game. They don’t always have to be pretty at this point, but they have to be successful.”
Puempel ended Rask’s shutout bid with his first NHL goal at the eight-minute mark of the third, taking a shot off the end boards and putting it past the Boston goalie.
Senators coach Dave Cameron admitted his team looked nervous early in the game, but believes this experience will pay dividends.
“It was a pressure game,” said Cameron. “We’re a young team. You can’t practice pressure. That’s why these big games are important.”
Notes: Defenseman Jared Cowen and center Colin Greening were healthy scratches. Forward Clarke MacArthur and goalie Robin Lehner remain sidelined with concussions. The Senators were also without defenseman Chris Phillips (wear and tear), forward Chris Neil (fractured thumb) and center Zack Smith (fractured wrist). The Bruins were minus forwards David Krejci and Brett Connolly and defenseman Kevan Millar. Right-wingers Brett Connolly and Brian Ferlin were healthy scratches.
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