OTTAWA -- When the Bruins last came into this city to play the Senators Jan. 17, they were riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1-0) and had rallied from a rough 5 1/2-week period to turn their fortunes around. That strong run ended abruptly when Ottawa shut them out at the Corel Centre.
Last night, the circumstances were nearly identical. The Bruins came in having won six in a row and were unbeaten in seven (6-0-1-0). The result was another loss as the Senators prevailed in overtime, 3-2.
Boston did salvage a point, though, as the team rallied to pull even at 2-2 when defenseman Jiri Slegr jammed in a rebound of a Glen Murray shot with 41 seconds left.
With goalie Felix Potvin pulled for an extra attacker, Murray threw a backhander at goalie Martin Prusek and Slegr, on the edge of the crease, buried the rebound.
Martin Havlat decided it at 1:23 of the extra session on his second goal of the game. With Bruins center Brian Rolston taking a draw against Jason Spezza in the Boston end, the puck went off Spezza's skate and over to Havlat, who beat Potvin through the pads.
"It's real disappointing, especially off of a faceoff like that," said coach Mike Sullivan. "We certainly have to think defense-first in that situation. But obviously, to come back from a two-goal deficit against a team like Ottawa, they certainly make it tough on you when they get a lead, I thought our guys battled hard to get back in the hockey game."
Rolston said it was bad luck more than anything.
"I got great wood on it," said Rolston. "It hit [Spezza's] skate so hard that it went right back to [Havlat]. It was just a fluke break. I tried to shoot it forward. If that gets by, Axy [P.J. Axelsson] is probably gone on a breakaway."
The game had the feel of a playoff contest and it was billed as a possible preview of an opening-round matchup, given that Boston was in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings and Ottawa fifth. The Senators are now within 1 point of the Bruins and made it tough on them the entire night.
"That could be a team we're going to face in the first round," said Rolston. "They're a puck-possession team and they kept control of the puck a lot. We kept going and we knew we were going to get our chance [to tie], and we just battled and whacked and hacked and it finally went in."
Boston had two power plays in the opening 20 minutes for a total of 3:06 on the man advantage, which had produced at least one goal in each of the previous six contests. It was 0 for 3 last night.
Instead, it was the Senators who turned a power-play chance into the first goal of the game. At 2:29 of the second period, defenseman Dan McGillis was whistled off for holding. Just 26 seconds later, the Bruins were in a 1-0 hole.
Center Todd White, positioned at the right point, teed up a slapshot that Potvin was able to stop with a pad. But Spezza was there for a rebound and the Senators, who possess the No. 1 power play in the NHL, were on the board.
At 4:30, Ottawa made it 2-0 on a highlight-film strike by Havlat, who scored on his own rebound. Havlat's first shot went off the stick of defenseman Nick Boynton and popped up in front of Potvin. Havlat managed to bat it out of the air and rap it past the netminder's glove.
For the first nearly seven minutes of the period, it was all Senators -- they outshot Boston, 8-1, in that span. It wasn't until defenseman Karel Rachunek was whistled for hooking that the Bruins came alive.
Their power play put a great deal of pressure on Prusek but couldn't get one by him. It took a different type of special teams for the Bruins to score. With Ottawa on the man advantage, center Ted Donato took advantage of a turnover to pull the Bruins within 2-1 at 15:47. Donato raced up the left side of the ice, crossed into Ottawa territory and blasted a slapper from the left point that eluded Prusek for his fourth goal of the season. It was the first goal the Bruins had scored on Prusek in the last three games against him. "We were fortunate to get the point," said Slegr. "And unfortunate to lose in overtime."