The Columbus Blue Jackets now have a record of 19 – 14 – 8 after a 2 – 1 overtime victory against the Boston Bruins Thursday night at the TD Garden. Seth Jones would deliver a beauty of a pass to Pierre-Luc Dubois as he sniped it top shelf on Tuukka Rask. With this overtime point, the Bruins are tied with the Washington Capitals at 59 points for first place in the NHL however, it will be tough to take the top spot if they continue to lose hard-fought games like this one.
It was a high tempo game from the start as Gustav Nyquist scored just 17 seconds in but the goal was called back for goaltending interference, Boone Jenner’s stick interfered with Rask’s pad. Afterwards, it was an extremely fast pace and physical contest with both teams trading big hits and big saves. Rask is all too familiar in playing close games but rookie goaltender, Elvis Merzlikins was eager and earned his second career win. For a rookie, he had done a nice job stopping all 8 Bruins shots in the first period and the start of the second period it remained physical and fast paced hockey. Nick Foligno would commit a tripping penalty against Brad Marchand, the Bruins are on an 8 game power play goal streak but only mustered 1 shot against Merzlikins. At the end of the power play, 2 on 2 became 3 on 2 as Foligno came out of the box for a wicked shot saved by Rask. The puck came loose right in front of the crease as Rask dived on it to keep the game at 0 apiece. Dean Kukan committed a tripping penalty against Jake DeBrusk and the Bruins would not let this opportunity squander, Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff straight to Torey Krug who found an open David Pastrnak as he cranked one 4 seconds into the power play giving the Bruins a 1 – 0 lead. This was Pastrnak’s 30th goal of the year and his fourth 30-goal season of his young NHL career. Charlie McAvoy would commit a 2-minute interference penalty against Kevin Stenlund but the Bruins would kill the power play with ease like the Blue Jackets weren’t even on one. Both goalies would continue playing strong as it remained 1 – 0 in favor of the Bruins as they entered the third period.
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The Blue Jackets were pumped from the start with Sony Milano scoring at the 2:06 mark from an awkward angle that went off Matt Grzelcyk’s skate to tie the game up at 1. This would be his fourth goal of the season assisted by Nathan Gerbe and Alexander Wennberg. Merzlikins continued to play like a veteran not having Pastrnak goal affect him, nor would Rask do the same with Milano’s goal, both goalies would not allow another goal by the end of regulation. It was an extremely tight game throughout the full 60 minutes, it reminisced when the two teams played in the second round of the playoffs last season with the Bruins coming out on top. The win would take only 52 seconds, Pastrnak would give up the puck and off went Jones who would make a routine cross-crease pass to Dubois who roofed one by Rask to give the Blue Jackets a thrilling 2 – 1 victory.
How can a team ranked first in goals against average, second in fewest power play goals allowed and have top scoring players like Pastranak and Marchad lose their lead in so many games? The Bruins are 2 – 5 in overtime and 0 – 6 in shootouts so far this season, as a team they will need to come up with ways to prove they are the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are 24 – 7 – 11 but the way they are playing it will only be a matter of time the L column will surpass the OTL column. As for the Blue Jackets, not looking good as their starting goalie, Joonas Korpisalo is out for 4 – 6 weeks with a knee injury but with Merzlikins playing full 60 minute hockey turn into a potential starter for the Blue Jackets or another team?