December 10, 2011

Post-Game Breakdown: B’s eke out wacky, 5-3 win over Jackets

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 5, Columbus 3

Recap: In a mind-numbing, terrible first 18 minutes of the game in which they fell behind 2-0, the Bruins somehow escaped the first period tied 2-2, as the B’s got goals from Joe Corvo and Nathan Horton just 45 seconds apart. Boston took their first lead of the night 58 seconds into the second when a PP bomb from Zdeno Chara beat Curtis Sanford to make it 3-2.

But Columbus responded with a goal from R.J. Umberger with 3:55 to go in the frame, knotting things up. Tuukka Rask replaced Tim Thomas for the third period. Corvo buried what proved to be the game-winner on the man advantage with 13:16 to go and Chris Kelly iced it by beating Sanford with 26 ticks left on the power play as Boston snapped their two-game skid with a 5-3 victory.

Records: Boston 18-9-1, 37 points; Columbus 8-17-4, 20 points

Key Play of the Game: The Bruins looked bound for their third-straight setback until Milan Lucic, after racking up six penalty minutes early, atoned for his trio of trips to the box. The hulking winger set up both of the B’s strikes late in the first and completely changed the dynamic of the tilt.

Connolly’s Commendations: In game No. 28 of his tenure in Boston, Corvo finally tickled the twine and got the monkey off his back. The Bruins d-man had a game-high five shots on goal in this one and, with the game-winner coming off his stick, truly came up big for the Black and Gold.

Coming into any game cold is a tall task, but Rask made it look easy. The Finnish netminder stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period, giving Boston the pick-me-up they were badly in need of.

Helluva night for the Bruins power play in this one. The Black and Gold torched Columbus with three tallies on six chances, during which they put to bed an 0-for-8 streak on the man advantage.

Offensively it was a great game for the first line. Lucic led the way with his second career, three-assist game, David Krejci and two helpers and Nathan Horton buried his first goal since a 4-1 win over the Leafs on Dec. 3.

Adam McQuaid deserves a nice little golf clap as well. The bottom-pairing defenseman had a game-high four blocked shots.

Connolly’s Critiques: Conversely — and it’s not often a play gets both commended and critiqued — it was a bizarre tilt otherwise for Mr. Lucic. No. 17 committed four minors and consistently put his team on the penalty kill.

A rare tough go of it for Thomas in this one. After getting beat five-hole by Rick Nash on the first goal, the veteran inexplicably let a softy in through the wickets to R.J. Umberger for Columbus’ third tally of the night.

Notes: The most pressing issue to come out of tonight’s contest is the health of Zdeno Chara. The captain left the game after appearing to injure his left leg/knee during the second period in a seemingly harmless collision with Antoine Vermette. Coach Claude Julien said afterward that the 6-foot-9 defenseman is being evaluated.

Final Thoughts: Real bizarre night out in Ohio for the Bruins. With a highly-successful performance on the PP, a parade to the penalty box for both squads, a rare early exit for Thomas and a breakthrough game for Joe Corvo, it couldn’t have been a much wackier sixty minutes of hockey. Nevertheless, Boston’s brief losing streak is now behind them.

Next: The Bruins will welcome the Los Angeles Kings to TD Garden on Tuesday night.