BOSTON – There weren't a lot of reasons to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a chance against the Boston Bruins Thursday night.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins were riding a six-game winning streak, while Columbus entered the game losers of four of five, winless on the road and with just three wins in 17 games this season.
To top it off, the Blue Jackets went with Curtis Sanford, who hadn't started an NHL game since 2009, in goal.
What ensued, however, was Columbus' best non-win of the season and Boston's toughest victory in its now seven-game winning streak.
David Krejci scored the go-ahead shootout goal and Tuukka Rask made a diving stop on Antoine Vermette to clinch a 2-1 Boston victory at the TD Garden.
Rich Peverley had also scored for Boston in the shootout, while Mark Letestu scored a shootout goal for the Blue Jackets, who had the consolation of earning their first point in eight road games.
"We are starting to turn the page here and everybody is getting on board and that's what you're going to need," said Sanford of the 3-13-2 Blue Jackets' attempt to salvage their season. "You're going to need 60 minutes of the top effort from everybody and we got that tonight. We fell a little short last game but it's coming along."
The Bruins had won their previous six games by a combined score of 34-13. They didn't play their best game, but were able to gut one out. Adam McQuaid tied the game at 4:24 of the second period, when his wrist shot from the right point deflected off a stick in front and beat Sanford, who made 28 saves
Rask made 30 saves for his third straight win.
"Tuukka was the guy that kept us in," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "You can look at the shot clock … but they also shot a lot of pucks from far away. Nonetheless, I thought Tuukka made big saves when we needed him to and kept us in there and allowed us to win in the shootout. How he handled himself in the shootout, I thought, was very good. He's a goaltender that I think has been working extremely hard in practice, doing extra and everything else. It's nice to see him back to .500, and hopefully he keeps moving on the positive side."
Rask said there wasn't much to making the clinching save on Vermette's backhand attempt.
"I've been practicing a lot. I was pretty confident," he said. "It's all about the patience, how patient you can be, and stay on your feet. So today I felt good."
McQuaid's goal was necessary because the Blue Jackets had grabbed the lead at 2:49 of the second on a power-play tip-in by Derek MacKenzie. Once the game was even, it was a battle of goaltenders. Both teams had a power play in overtime but came up empty.
The Blue Jackets now head to Nashville, where they'll try to duplicate their effort from this game and get a different result.
"It's a lot better than what we've been doing lately when we've been losing some of these games, so it's a step," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "The points (are) what we were after, but it's a step and now we go into a big divisional opponent in Nashville … and we have to build off the type of play that we just had here tonight. It has to roll into the next one. We can't just relax and take a step back, it has to continue to be a constant moving forward."
The Bruins are also hoping to move forward, even after sweeping their five-game homestand and improving their Garden record 8-5-0. They've played 13 of their first 17 at home and begin a three-game trip on Saturday against the New York Islanders.
"When we were looking at the schedule we had, that was the goal," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "And we've accomplished it, but it's not exactly how we were looking at it. When we started playing those five games at home, or six games out of seven at home, we were thinking one game at a time. And our goal is to accomplish as many points as possible and we got all of them. So now we have to set a new goal and we're going to be playing probably at home and on the road, so we can't be satisfied."