The Bruins had every reason to potentially look past the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets at the end of a long week of hockey.
But they did no such thing while dominating Columbus en route to a 3-1 victory at TD Garden that pushes them to 9-0-2 in their last 11 games at TD Garden. They haven’t lost in regulation since an ugly defeat to the New Jersey Devils way back on Oct. 26.
Milan Lucic scored a pair of goals, collected his first power play tally of the year and traded his first punches of the season in a second period bout with Dalton Prout in a dominating performance for the Bruins power forward.
It all started in the first period with Patrice Bergeron collecting a goal in his second straight game with a deep shot just in from the side boards that was obscured by a Loui Eriksson screen in front. Lucic added a power play redirection of a Torey Krug point shot just 22 seconds into a first period PP possession, and the Bruins were off and running against an undermanned Blue Jackets group.
Lucic got his second score in the third period when a shot from the slot bounced off Jack Johnson’s skate, and straight up in the air before landing beyond Curtis McElhinney for the insurance marker. Ryan Johansen got a score for the Blue Jackets in the third period to make it respectable for Columbus, but didn’t exactly push Chad Johnson in a 13-save performance for the Black and Gold.
GOLD STAR: Milan Lucic was in the right place at the right time on both of his goals, and good fortune smiled upon him. He potted his first power play goal in nearly two years while tipping a Torey Krug point shot past Curtis McElhinney, and then got a fortunate bounce off Jack Johnson’s skate for the second score. The 11 goals on the season put him in the top 25 NHL goal scorers this year, and he added brute physicality to go along with the points. Lucic led all Bruins with six registered hits, and dropped the gloves for his first fight of the season with Dalton Prout. In what’s been an excellent first two months for No. 17, this was one of his best performances.
BLACK EYE: A minus-2 and no shots on net for Jack Johnson, who has not had very good success against the Bruins throughout his career. Lucic’s insurance goal in the third period bounced off Johnson’s skate, and then straight up into the air before landing helplessly past Curtis McElhinney as Jarome Iginla unsuccessfully attempted to bat it into the net. Johnson has a point and a minus-12 rating in nine games against the Black and Gold throughout his career, and now he’ll be seeing them a lot more as a member of the Eastern Conference’s own Blue Jackets.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins built up a 2-0 lead in the first period, and could have very easily taken their foot off the gas pedal against an undermanned Blue Jackets hockey club. Instead they continued applying pressure while outshooting Columbus by a 27-12 margin over the final two periods, and simply squeezed the life out of a team that doesn’t seem all that ready to compete in the Eastern Conference – and certainly isn’t ready without Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton. That paved the way for Milan Lucic’s insurance goal in a solid finishing kick for the Black and Gold.
HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron notched a goal for the second straight game, won 14-of-19 face-offs, and set the tone early with his first period score as the Bruins were feeling out a reeling Columbus club. It wasn’t dominant by any means and it was far from flashy, but it’s a good sign for the entire Bruins team when Bergeron starts getting back to that cool, efficient, productive level of his game. It would appear he’s getting there after watching 16:26 of ice time where he generally controlled the action from the center spot with assistance from Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8-0-2 – the Bruins’ home record during the month of November as they took a possible 18 out of 20 points on the TD Garden ice, and haven’t lost a regulation game dating back to Oct. 26 against the New Jersey Devils.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Putting pucks in front of the net, being physically involved and emotionally attached, when we do those things we are on top of our game. I don’t think it’s ever flashy. That’s not the identity we play, or that we implement on this team. We just play kind of heavier-type of hockey…more, kind of, playoff-suited hockey.” –Zdeno Chara, summing up a very dominant performance against the Blue Jackets.