In their first three meetings this season, the Bruins couldn't compete with the Ottawa Senators, who won all three by a combined score of 14-5.
But in their last two, the Bruins have found a way to solve the Eastern Conference's best team. After shutting out the Senators, 3-0, Dec. 1, the Bruins followed that with a wild 4-2 victory last night at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Brad Boyes took a pass from defenseman David Tanabe and rifled a shot past Senators goalie Dominik Hasek during a power play at 13:10 of the third to break a 2-2 tie. It appeared Tanabe, who went to the net after the dish, might have tipped the shot, but he said he wasn't sure.
As buoyed as the club was by the win, it came with a price, as No. 1 goaltender Hannu Toivonen suffered an injury to his right ankle in the final seconds of the second period during a scramble in front, and didn't return. He was replaced by Andrew Raycroft to start the third, and Raycroft earned the win, his first since Dec. 15.
Toivonen, who was sporting a protective boot on the injured foot, will be evaluated this morning and said he expects to undergo an MRI.
''I caught my skate on the ice a little bit and I went a little bit over the ankle," said Toivonen, who has had problems with his knees before, but not his ankles. ''It might be sprained. We're going to take a look at it again [today] and see where we're at. It's not really that comfortable but it's really tough to say because it just happened."
As much traffic as there was in the crease at the time of the injury, Toivonen said he didn't think it was a contributing factor.
''Things happen and there's nothing you can do about it," he said. ''You just try to live with it and go forward. We'll find out what's going on. Obviously, it's a little depressing right now but there's nothing you can do about it."
As well as they finished, the Bruins started slowly, even though the Senators were missing two of their top three scorers -- Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead midway through the second period on a goal set up by defenseman Wade Redden. With 5:07 gone, Redden fired a shot from long range that Chris Neil redirected past Toivonen.
Only 28 seconds later, the Bruins tied the score, as it appeared a switch had gone off in their heads. Patrice Bergeron started the flurry when he backhanded a centering pass in front of Marco Sturm. Sturm got a stick on it but got tangled up with defenseman Anton Volchenkov. The puck squirted to Glen Murray in the slot, who beat Hasek at 5:35 for his 14th goal of the season.
The Bruins' power play (2 for 6) came through a little more than a minute later to give Boston the lead. With Ottawa's Chris Phillips off for interference at 6:31, Bergeron dished a pass to Brian Leetch, who was near the middle of the blue line, and he looked for a shot. It wasn't there, so Leetch relayed the puck to fellow defenseman Brad Stuart, who was at the top of the right circle. Stuart teed up a slapper that blew past Hasek at 6:40.
But that lead didn't hold up as the Bruins gave up a shorthanded strike to Mike Fisher, who took advantage of Boston's sloppy play in the neutral zone. His shot from the slot rattled off the right post and past Raycroft at 10:42 of the third. It was the 12th shorthanded goal of the season for Ottawa, a franchise record.
Boyes came through with the winner, though, and Travis Green sealed it with an empty-netter with 11.9 seconds remaining.
Leetch said as much as he and his teammates were concerned about Toivonen, they were thrilled to see the struggling Raycroft get the win.
''It was an excellent effort from him," said Leetch. ''Everyone is friends with him and is rooting for him, and they know how important he is for our team."