BOSTON - The Bruins didn’t have their Black and Gold bus firing on all cylinders against the Metro Division cellar-dwelling Columbus Blue Jackets, but they did just enough to win while capping off a successful five-game homestand.
Milan Lucic blocked a Cam Atkinson shot to create a breakaway, and then beat Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky through the five hole to give Boston a 3-2 overtime victory on Thursday night. The win gives runs the Boston win streak to four and gives them nine of a possible 10 points on the homestand.
The Blue Jackets and Bruins traded goals in the first two periods. Blake Comeau was left wide open on a defensive breakdown by the Zdeno Chara/Dougie Hamilton pairing, and slipped a shot past Chad Johnson just after a Columbus power play had expired. The Bruins answered on a Loui Eriksson deflection of a deep Zdeno Chara point shot that gives the B’s Swedish forward a four-game point streak.
Shawn Thornton snapped a shot under the crossbar past Bobrovsky to give Boston a one-goal lead, but a juicy Johnson rebound set up a Nick Foligno follow on his own shot to tie things up.
Johnson rebounded from the rebound allowed in the second period, however, and was excellent in his first game in front of the home crowd. The B’s backup netminder made 32 saves and stopped Ryan Johansen and Atkinson on successive rushes in the third period to keep it tied.
GOLD STAR: Milan Lucic was kept off the board until overtime when he blocked a Cam Atkinson shot, and then slid a five-hole bid through Sergei Bobrovsky for the game-winner, his eighth goal of the season. He also tossed out four registered hits and won 6 of 7 face-offs, while David Krejci spent some long moments in the Quiet Room at the end of the first period. It’s more than a little ironic that Lucic spent this week talking about how the shootout isn’t the right way to settle a hockey game, and then went out and proved it with an overtime winner.
BLACK EYE: No shots and a minus-1 for R.J. Umberger in 17:38 of ice time as the Columbus Blue Jackets forward was dropped to the fourth line amid a season of underachievement. The Blue Jackets actually brought a heavy game into Boston with them while looking to bust out of stretch with one victory in their past seven games, but Thursday wasn’t going to be night for Umberger or for Columbus.
TURNING POINT: The third period saw Columbus outshoot the Bruins 12-7 and really take to the Boston players physically with the score tied, but that’s when backup netminder Chad Johnson swooped in to the rescue for the Black and Gold. He made saves on successive scoring chances from Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson on a back-to-back defensive breakdowns, and then made a second stop on Atkinson on what could have been the winner for Columbus. Johnson showed he’s good enough to be Tuukka Rask’s backup in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
HONORABLE MENTION: As mentioned above, Chad Johnson made 32 saves in his TD Garden debut, and finally showed he’s more than capable of handling the backup job. It was instructional watching Johnson shake off a bad rebound goal in the second period allowed to Nick Foligno, and instead bear down in the third with 12 saves when one false move could have cost him the game. Johnson hadn’t proven much in his first two games against Buffalo and the Isles, but that third period performance after sitting for nearly two weeks of action was exactly what everybody in the B’s organization needed to see.
BY THE NUMBERS: 26 – the number of consecutive penalties that the Bruins have killed off this season as they again climb up the charts of NHL penalty kill units. The kill on Brad Marchand’s boneheaded interference penalty in the third was a big key to victory.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "[The 2nd goal] was a big time in the game to let up that kind of rebound, so I knew I had to help us win the game in the 3rd. It felt good to be able to do it.” –Chad Johnson, who made 12 saves in a third period where the Blue Jackets took it to the Bruins before Boston ultimately prevailed in overtime.