The Boston Bruins have already put their brutal October behind them.
The defending Stanley Cup champions opened November with a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night, getting back-to-back goals from Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille 47 seconds apart to break open a tie game in the third period.
After going 3-7 in October, the Bruins looked much more like the team that hoisted the Cup in June than the bumbling bunch that returned this fall and finished the opening month with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
“We were dumping the puck well, retrieving the puck well. I thought that you just could tell we were getting better and better every shift that we did that,” said Chris Kelly, who had a goal and an assist. “I thought for the most part that was the most consistent effort that we've had so far this year.”
Zdeno Chara had two assists for the Bruins, who ended the Senators' six-game winning streak.
Boston outshot Ottawa 41-26 and shut down the NHL's top power play, holding Ottawa scoreless on three chances with the man advantage. Ottawa had 13 power-play goals in its first 12 games.
The Bruins controlled the second period and took a 3-2 lead on goals by Patrice Bergeron and Kelly, then put in two more after Ottawa's Jared Cowen tied it at 3-all on his first NHL goal with 14:56 left in the game.
Boychuk gave Boston a 4-3 lead with a slap shot from the point for his first goal of the season, and less than a minute later Shawn Thornton tipped a pass to Paille for a breakaway goal that put the Bruins up by two.
That was a big enough cushion for Tim Thomas (4-4), who finished with 23 saves.
“We definitely had the puck the most that we've had it all year, at least that's what it felt like,” Thomas said. “We had it in their end and we just had our feet moving.”
Craig Anderson (6-3) stopped 36 shots for Ottawa, which hadn't lost since Oct. 18.
“I think the Stanley Cup champions showed up and they decided they wanted to play. They were determined to win, and the solutions that we had for them weren't working,” Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. “They were quicker than us. They were on the puck better than we were. They made us play in our end way, way too much. When those things happen, bad things happen.”
Nick Foligno finished with a goal and two assists, and Stephane DaCosta had a goal and his first NHL assist for Ottawa.
After getting outplayed in the second, the Senators grinded out the early part of the third and tied it when Foligno dropped a pass back to the point to Cowen, who fired a slap shot past a screen of players and Thomas' right pad.
But Boychuk tied it on a blast from the point with 13:19 to go, and Paille got loose for a breakaway goal on Anderson with 12:42 left.
“We stayed patient and we stayed strong in the defensive zone,” Paille said. “Toward the end of the game we didn't give them too much.”
Foligno gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead in the first period when he grabbed a loose puck and lofted a backhander off Thomas' blocker. The puck dropped behind him, and Bobby Butler crashed the net for Ottawa, occupying Thomas and the Bruins as the puck trickled across the goal line.
Milan Lucic tied it with a power-play goal with 12:48 left in the first, lifting a rebound over Anderson, but Ottawa struck again barely a minute later.
Foligno pounced on a loose puck and slid a backward pass between his legs to DaCosta, who poked a shot past Thomas as the details of Lucic's goal were being announced to the crowd.
Notes: Ottawa hadn't lost since falling to 1-5 with a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia. ... Bergeron's goal in the second period extended his point streak to five games. ... Chara had his second multipoint game of the season. ... Bergeron tied it at 2-all early in the second on a wrist shot from the slot off a pass from Tyler Seguin during a 3-on-2 rush with Brad Marchand, who also got an assist. ... Shawn Thornton and Ottawa's Zenon Konopka squared off in a long fight just after the opening goal. Neither player made much contact despite throwing numerous haymakers.