Bruins carve up Blue Jackets
The Bruins closed out a very impressive November (10-3-2) with a 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets Saturday night at TD Garden (9-0-2 in their last 11 home games).
Boston (18-7-2) also swept the three-game season series with Columbus (10-14-3) thanks to two more goals from Milan Lucic, who also had a fight and team-high six hits. Chad Johnson (4-1-1) had a quiet game (13 saves) as the Bruins held their opponent under 20 shots for the second time in two days. Columbus backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney (33 saves) made his first start since November 19 and Boston made sure to test him early and often.
Lucic’s goals came on a tip in and a shot that went off McElhinney then bounced over the goal line.
“Sometimes they go in like that,” Lucic said. “I was fortunate to have puck luck tonight.”
He made it 2-0 late in the first period with his first power-play goal since March 3, 2012.
Interestingly enough, his bout with Dalton Prout was also his first of the season.
“It was the first time I’ve been challenged to a fight,” noted Lucic, who is still one of the most feared fighters in the NHL. His goal early in the third period that extended Boston’s lead to 3-0 originally seemed to be touched out of mid-air by Jarome Iginla, but after it was reviewed (to see if Iginla got it with a high stick), the credit went to Lucic.
Johnson’s shutout bid was spoiled by Ryan Johansen’s power-play goal. That was about the only thing that didn’t go Boston’s way in this one-sided affair. Columbus only managed two shots on goal in the first period and five in the third. Both teams were playing in the second game of a back-to-back but for whatever reason Boston looked like the fresher team even though it was their third game in four nights as well.
Patrice Bergeron notched the first goal on a seemingly harmless shot from along the boards that he just threw at the net. A screen by Loui Eriksson helped it find the twine. The Bruins finally get a little break as they don’t play again until Thursday in Montreal (15-9-3). It is the first meeting between the Original Six rivals in 2013-14.
What they’ll be saying: While many argue about fighting’s place in the NHL, the Bruins hope it doesn’t go anywhere for a while since they improved to 9-2-0 this season when they have at least one fighting major. Zdeno Chara sparked the team on Friday vs. the Rangers with his heavyweight battle vs. Brian Boyle and Lucic’s brawl had the same effect. It is not rocket science by any means, but when Boston is physically engaged it tends to play its best. Matt Bartkowski is a fine player and Kevan Miller was serviceable in his first NHL callup but you can’t argue that Dennis Seidenberg (plus-2) and Adam McQuaid’s (four blocked shots) return to the lineup makes the Bruins that much better. Call it comfort or just experience but things look way smoother with them back there. Bergeron has also picked up his game this past week, recording goals against the Rangers and Blue Jackets while he won 14 of 19 (74 percent) faceoffs vs. Columbus. Julien was happy to see his club earn six power plays in one game, something which rarely happens. They only were able to convert on one (ironically the first) but plenty of pressure, zone time and quality scoring chances came out of all the time on the man-advantage (10:22).
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate