COLUMBUS – The Bruins didn’t bring their fire and brimstone game early in a sleepy Saturday matinee in Ohio, but they ended things strong with some closing finish in a 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
Loui Eriksson enjoyed his best game with the Bruins, and lifted a wobbling backhander past Sergei Bobrovsky on the short side in the third period to register his first goal as a member of the B’s. More importantly the Eriksson marker was also the game-winner for the Black and Gold in pushing them to 3-1 on the young season.
Eriksson led the Bruins with six shots on net over the course of the game, and really seemed to finally hone in on that chemistry with Patrice Bergeron that eluded him in the first few games.
The Blue Jackets opened up the scoring in the first period when Tuukka Rask never picked up a Jack Johnson power play blast from the right point with Artem Anisimov camped in front of the net. The Bruins tied the game at the end of the second period on a Chris Kelly blast from just inside the blue line that beat Bobrovsky after he’d just come out of the penalty box.
Otherwise, things were up to Tuukka Rask to hold the line in a tight hockey game, and he did just that in outdueling the reigning Vezina Trophy winner from Columbus. Rask didn’t see a high volume of shots, but had a few that stood out: a flashy glove save on Mark Letestu in the second period after a Brad Marchand turnover at the offensive blue line, and slamming the door shut on an R.J. Umberger wraparound in the third period.
Milan Lucic added the empty net score in the closing seconds of regulation to complete the final score.
GOLD STAR: Loui Eriksson had his best game as a member of the Bruins, and snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period with his first goal as a member of the Black and Gold. Eriksson led the B’s with six shots on net, and easily could have had a hat trick after Sergei Bobrovsky robbed him on a power play rebound from the slot later in the frame. Eriksson rang one off the post late in the third period when the Bruins were looking for an insurance score as well, and was a threat with the puck through the 60 minute contest. The Swedish winger alluded to slow starts in his past, so perhaps Saturday afternoon was just the sign of some very good things to come for Eriksson and the rest of the Black and Gold crew.
BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand had one shot on net in 14:11 of ice time, and had a bevy of turnovers that led to a demotion to the third line to start the third period. Claude Julien put Reilly Smith up with Patrice Bergeron and Eriksson, and that line produced the game-winning goal on their very first shift of the third period. After the game, Julien said that Marchand is “fighting it” and it’s pretty clear that the Nose Face Killah is still deeply in search of his game. Perhaps an agitating maneuver or two is what’s needed to get him into the flow of the game?
TURNING POINT: Things didn’t look great with the Bruins trailing 1-0 late in the second period and Chris Kelly whistled off for a hooking call in the waning minutes of the stanza. But the Bruins killed off the Columbus power play, and then Kelly notched the game-tying strike on a rocket from just inside the blue line after hopping out of the penalty box. That seemed to snap Boston out of their Saturday afternoon daze, and Claude Julien switching up the lines in the third period really got things turning in the right direction.
HONORABLE MENTION: Johnny Boychuk might not be the conventional selection (that would probably be Tuukka Rask), but he played a major role in Boston’s win at both ends of the ice. He blocked three shots – including one that sent him hobbling to the B’s dressing and still seemed to be giving him trouble following the game – while generating seven shots attempts, collecting an assist and finishing with a plus-2 rating when it was all over. Boychuk’s willingness to stand in front of open shots has become a major asset within the B’s team defense.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1.00 – the goals against for Tuukka Rask, who has allowed only a single goal in each of the four games he’s played thus far this season while getting off to a promising start.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes you have to take a guy away from where he is to take some of the pressure off. He's fighting it. There’s no doubt he's fighting it.” –Claude Julien talking about a struggling Brad Marchand, who was dropped to the third line during Saturday’s win in Columbus.