How victorious Bruins refocused after Backes-Sabourin collision

Matt Kalman
November 03, 2019 - 12:50 am

It’s impossible to say that the Bruins would’ve been affected as much or more than the Ottawa Senators by the sight of seeing Senators forward Scott Sabourin carted off the ice while completely immobilized in the first period Saturday.

But as hockey players and humans, both teams lost a little of their edge shortly after Sabourin and Bruins forward David Backes clunked heads on a check. Backes, too, left the game and did not return. Sabourin was taken to a local hospital, where he was scheduled to stay overnight.

Not surprisingly, the Bruins were able to bounce back from the emotional moment better than the rebuilding Senators. How’d they do it? They way the do everything: by riding their first line, their special teams and their goaltending to a fifth straight victory.

Of course a little veteran leadership went a long way as well.

“Yeah, we had to say as much as it sucks right now, we have to get back and be focused and be sharp and make sure we’re in the moment because we need to go about it. You know it’s a fast game, it’s a physical game, so you’ve got to be ready,” Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron said.

David Pastrnak, the hottest player in the land with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) during an 11-game point streak, set up Bergeron’s goal at 1:51 of the second period to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. When that wasn’t enough to keep the Bruins ahead, Pastrnak set up Brad Marchand for a goal that gave Boston a 4-2 lead after Danton Heinen had scored the go-ahead goal.

Pastrnak had already scored a power-play goal in the first period, and the Bruins’ power play, tops in the NHL, went 2-for-4.

The penalty kill matched the power play for effectiveness, killing off all of a double-minor for spearing and a minor for hooking called on Marchand in the second period. The first 55 seconds were a 5-on-3 because of a prior too-many-men penalty. But Tuukka Rask went 6-for-6 on Ottawa shots on net, and the Senators’ league-worst power play couldn’t seize the momentum from the Bruins.

“We did a hell of a job to keep it out of our net,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’ve got to get a little better with our clears to save ourselves a little bit of aggravation, I guess, on the coaches’ end. For them it’s wear-and-tear, for the players, so that’s my one area where I’d be nit-picky about the PK. But they kept us in the game with that. Big kill. Special teams were the difference tonight.”

Rask gave up a soft, tough-angle game-tying goal to Connor Brown in the second period, but from there was flawless again. He starred during that penalty kill and made 11 saves on 11 shots in the third period. He now has a .949 save percentage in eight starts.

The Senators are young and inexperience and not nearly as talented as the Bruins. They lost one of their better offensive centers, Logan Brown, to an upper-body injury in addition to Sabourin’s departure. Something like the Backes-Sabourin collision could’ve been an equalizer that could’ve sapped Boston of its emotion or focus and allowed the upstart Senators to take advantage.

The pillars of this juggernaut Bruins team, though, just wouldn’t let that happen.