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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Senators Blank the Bruins 1-0 in Game 4 to Take a Commanding 3-1 Series Lead

Game 4 was right up Ottawa's boring alley: low-scoring, mostly forgettable hockey but ultimately the Senators skated away with a huge 1-0 victory this evening at TD Garden. Ottawa takes a 3-1 lead in the first round series vs. Boston and they will have a chance to eliminate the Bruins on Friday (7:30, NESN) at Canadian Tire Centre. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 22 saves for his fourth career playoff shutout and third in an Ottawa uniform.

After a scoreless first period (Boston has yet to score a 1st period goal in the entire series) in which Ottawa outshot the home team 14-12, things started to get bogged down in the second frame which is just how the Senators prefer it. The B's actually had some great scoring chances in the first but Anderson came flying out of the crease to stop Brad Marchand before Ryan Spooner was later stuffed on his shot from the slot. Each team was limited to five shots in the second while the Senators outshot them 8-5 in the third.

The Bruins appeared to take a 1-0 lead at 10:49 of the second when rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy's shot from the point (possibly deflected by an Ottawa stick) went by Anderson. The issue was that rookie Noel Acciari was just barely offside something like 20 seconds before the goal. The Senators' evil genius head coach Guy Boucher used his challenge and after a long review, it was rightfully overturned much to the disappointment of Bruins fans. As I said, it was the right call (after the fact), but it's frustrating when it is called a goal on the ice and more importantly, the infraction had nothing to do with the goal which happened way later.

Ottawa had won both Games 2 and 3 by the same final scores: 4-3 in overtime. When Bobby Ryan scored his third goal of the series at 5:49 of the third period, you had a feeling that the B's were in trouble. Defenseman Erik Karlsson (of course) made the goal as his slap pass was intentionally wide of the goal right on Ryan's stick. Tuukka Rask (26 saves) and Zdeno Chara nearly combined to make the puck stop on the goal-line but Ryan overpowered them to push it across. Ryan (3 goals, 2 assists) and Karlsson (5 assists) have points in every game this series. Derick Brassard was credited with the second assist on the game-winning goal (Ryan's 2nd in a row), giving him a three-game point streak (2 goals, 3 assists).

Boston was 0-for-1 on the power play in Game 4, leaving them 2-for-11 in the series. Ottawa was 0-for-3 on the power play and they are 3-for-13 in these four games. Senators defenseman Cody Ceci led everyone in ice time (25:37) while McAvoy was second (25:03), Karlsson was third (24:51) and Zdeno Chara was fourth (24:09). The Bruins won Game 1 (2-1) but they have lost three straight contests heading into Friday's tilt in Canada's capital city. No pressure right? All the B's can do is worry about that one and figure out a way to bring this series back to Boston rather than having to pack up their stuff for the summer.

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