BOSTON – The Ottawa Senators showed the Boston Bruins what the NHL’s top teams do – take leads and hold them.
Jason Spezza scored a pair of goals to lead the Senators to their sixth straight win, 3-2 over the Bruins on Tuesday in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.
Luke Richardson’s goal broke a 1-1 tie midway into the second and Spezza scored his second goal on a power play in the third. The Senators made it last with an uncharacteristic, close-checking style.
“That’s the way to look at it – a good lesson,” Boston defenceman and former Senator Zdeno Chara said. “The team we played tonight, Ottawa, is challenging. We have to get better. We’re much better than we showed tonight.”
The Bruins, who have relied on their own strong defensive play this season while, at times, looking offensively deficient. That hurt them Tuesday when they had three early breakaways, but scored once.
“Defensively they’ve bought into that close-checking style,” Spezza said. “We expected them to be a lot better this year because they had so many guys that had to get used to each other.”
Chuck Kobasew scored his team-leading 13th goal for the Bruins. He has four of Boston’s five goals in its three losses against Ottawa this season. The Bruins lost for just the second time in six games.
“When the game was over it shows you where we’re at,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “We still have some work to do.”
Martin Gerber made 26 saves for Ottawa, which started its winning streak after suffering through a season-high seven-game winless streak.
“For us, it was really important. We knew it was a four-point game,” Gerber said.
Alex Auld, making his sixth consecutive start for Boston, made 24 saves. Despite the loss, the Bruins kept Dany Heatley from putting the puck into the net. He had two goals in each of his past three games before being held to one assist Tuesday.
The Senators, who entered with the league’s second-most goals, held Boston to seven fairly easy shots in the third until Milan Lucic scored with just over a minute left.
Ottawa went ahead when Richardson completed a 2-on-1 break with Antoine Vermette by tapping the puck into an empty net from the edge of the crease 10:38 into the second. Vermette broke in down the right wing and attempted to shift around Auld when the puck slid over to Richardson.
Spezza’s second goal came 8:19 into the third.
The game was billed locally as the first meaningful regular-season home game since before the NHL’s lockout three years ago, and even Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who resides in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, was in town for a rare visit, but the Bruins couldn’t take advantage of some early defensive breakdowns by Ottawa. Boston had three breakaways in the opening period, but only Kobasew scored.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead on Spezza’s goal 12:25 into the opening period when he one-timed Heatley’s pass from behind the net past Auld inside the left post.
Boston tied it 2:15 later when Kobasew beat Gerber with a wrist shot between the pads. Kobasew collected a short backhand pass from Glen Metropolit just outside the Senators’ blue line.
Notes: Heatley’s streak of three two-goal games was a club record. … Boston D Andrew Alberts was sidelined due to recurring headaches. … Ottawa C Mike Fisher was out due to an abdominal strain suffered in the Senators’ previous game. … Boston G Tim Thomas, sidelined the past five games with a strained groin, was activated Saturday and was the backup.