There is a reason the National Hockey League is the greatest and most competitive hockey league in the world. It is nearly impossible for any one team thoroughly dominate it’s opponents on a consistent basis. Very rarely can a team go through a an extended stretch of time without facing adversity. After reeling off six straight victories — five of which came in relatively easy fashion — the Boston Bruins were snapped back to reality on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Arriving at the Garden with the league’s worst record (3-13-1) and sporting two bottom-three special teams units (28th on the Power-Play, 29th on the Penalty-Kill), the Columbus Blue Jackets have been an absolute disaster this season. Couple that with the Bruins unfortunate ability to at times play down to the level of their opponents, and you had all the elements of a “trap game”.
“Well, I think there’s no easy games in this league. There’s a lot of parity. They’re a good team, they’ve got good players, high skill, and we didn’t play at our best.” — Rich Peverley
After a relatively bland first period, in which both teams combined for only 11 shots, it was Columbus who would get on the board first when Derek MacKenzie deflected a Nikita Nikitin shot past Tuukka Rask with only one second remaining on a Blue Jackets’ power-play. Fortunately for Boston, they would be able to answer back in short fashion after an Adam McQuaid wrist shot found it’s way through traffic and past Curtis Sanford. The goal was good to tie things at one, the score that would hold up through a scoreless third period of action.
As we entered overtime, the Black and Gold would catch a break as Blue Jackets’ forward Antoine Vermette would be sent to the box for a slash, only 1:05 into the extra frame. However, after the B’s were unable to capitalize on a multitude of quality scoring chances –courtesy of Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, amongst others –, Columbus would get a a chance with the extra man for the final 51.8 seconds of the Overtime after Andrew Ference was sent off for boarding.
“We got some chances but the luck wasn’t on our side on that power-play. We hit the post then missed a pretty nice chance there at the back-door. You don’t want to get frustrated because I knew they were going to get a power play that’s how it always goes. Your team gets a power play and the other team somehow gets a power play too.” – Tuukka Rask
Luckily for Boston, their 24-year-old Finnish netminder was able to hold the fort for the remainder of the Overtime and send the game to a shootout. In the shootout it was Boston’s most unsung hero, Rich Peverley, who would score in the second round of the shootout, followed by Krejci’s game winner in the final round. On the other end, Rask came up big again for the B’s, stopping two of three Columbus shooters, including Vermette in the last half of the third round. Despite being out-hit, out-shot and simply out-played by the worst team in hockey, the Bruins were able to survive a nail-biter and extend their winning streak to seven games.
“Yeah a win is always a win no matter how you get it. Today we didn’t play our best hockey everybody saw that, but the result is the only thing that matters … But again a character win to be able to squeeze it out like that.” – Tuukka Rask
Undoubtedly a huge factor in Boston’s ability to squeeze this one out was the play of Bruins’ defenseman Adam McQuaid. Skating alongside captain Zdeno Chara –replacing Johnny Boychuk who was out due to flu-like symptoms — , the 6’4″ PEI native not only scored Boston’s lone goal in regulation, but was responsible for keeping the Columbus top line of Rick Nash, Jeff Carter and RJ Umberger off the scoreboard the entire night.
“Well all three (Nash, Carter, Umberger) are big guys with a rare combination of size, skill, speed, and strength and they can challenge you in any area so you definitely need to be on your toes at all times. You have to try to limit their time and space.” – Adam McQuaid
Goals– CBJ (1) BOS (2)
Shots– CBJ (31) BOS (27)
Power-Play– CBJ (1-3) BOS (0-2)
Penalty-Kill– CBJ (2-2) BOS (2-3)
- Three Stars– ….. 3.) Tuukka Rask ….. 2.) David Krejci ….. 1.) Adam McQuaid
The Boston Bruins will now take to the road for the first time since a November 5 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Black and Gold will depart Boston on Friday for a three game trip with stops in Long Island, Montreal and Buffalo. The Blue Jackets will travel south for a match-up with the Predators on Saturday before returning home for a Monday night contest against the Calgary Flames.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.