Looking for their fourth straight win, the Boston Bruins (12-5-1) took on the Columbus Blue Jackets (6-10-2), losers of six of their last seven games.
Playing in the first of back to back contests, the Bruins backup goaltender Chad Johnson got the start in net. While Johnson has been okay in his only other two starts this season, going into last night’s game, I was really hoping to see some improvement in his rebound control. On initial shots Johnson has been relatively good, but he rarely manages to control the puck after the save. For the majority of the game I did not see too much improvement in that area, but it is tough to be too hard on him for his play last night, as he stood on his head in the third period when the Bruins really needed him to.
Going into the third period, the game tied at 2-2, the Bruins needed to play a solid period and end their homestand on a good note. Unfortunately, a couple of penalties against Boston never really allowed them to get any momentum going, and Columbus controlled play for most of the period. The Blue Jackets peppered Johnson with twelve shot on goal in the third, but luckily for the Bruins their goaltender was up to the task. Highlighted by a couple fantastic saves about halfway through the period, Johnson was in great position all period, saving some shots he did not even see. It was Johnson’s performance in the third that helped Boston to reach overtime.
In the overtime period neither team seemed content having secured a point after the regulation time tie. Boston and Columbus both played aggressively, looking for that second point. The aggressiveness from both teams made for an entertaining extra period, but it was a bad decision by Columbus winger Cam Atkinson that led to a Bruins game winner.
With the puck in the offensive zone, Atkinson let an ill advised (he was the last man in the Bruins zone) slap shot go from the blue line with Milan Lucic directly in front of him. Lucic blocked the shot with his leg and the deflected puck rolled to the neutral zone. Although Lucic is not known for his blazing speed, he had more than enough to outskate Atkinson, who was the only Blue Jackets skater with a chance to get to the puck. All alone with Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, Lucic drifted from the right faceoff circle to the slot, opening up Bobrovsky’s five-hole and Lucic ended the game with the goal, with less than a minute left in the overtime period.
After the game, Lucic talked about his first career overtime goal. “You know I was able to block a shot, a lucky bounce,” the rugged winger said after the win. “I was able to go out on a breakaway. You know this is my first overtime goal that I’ve ever scored and it ends up being a big game with the last game on this homestand, which wound up being a successful one.”
Like Lucic said, it was a very successful homestand for the Bruins as they were able to get nine points out of a possible ten. The team needed to play well during this five game stretch at home after they struggled with consistency the last two weeks.
Honestly, this game probably was not their best, but there are games like the one last night where teams have to rely on their goaltender to make big saves. While Johnson did struggle once again with his rebound control, allowing a goal off of a rebound on the Blue Jackets second goal, he made some spectacular saves in the third period when penalties gave Columbus all the momentum. After the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien spoke about ending the team’s five-game homestand with an overtime victory.
“Well I think we got better as we went on here, maybe tonight seemed like a bit of a tough game. I thought they played really hard; they were battling hard along the walls and stuff like that so maybe not as sharp mentally and you know making some of those decisions, but at the same time you know it’s hard for us to get momentum when you don’t get power-plays. Sometimes it’s hard to get that momentum,” Julien said. “They had some power-plays in the third and gave them some momentum and we weren’t able to get that, so it was a bit of a tough night for us, but we battled through it, we won the game and you know I thought we deserved it even though we probably weren’t at our best.”
The Bruins won’t have much time to enjoy their successful homestand as they face the Ottawa Senators (7-7-4) in Ottawa at 7:30pm (ET). It will be the first time facing Ottawa this season, and the Bruins hope they can keep the good times rolling.