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Game Day Central: Blue Jackets at Bruins

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

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Ryan Johansen's 10th goal of the season brings the Jackets within two in the third period.

SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: Scoreless second period at TD Garden but the Blue Jackets have run into some penalty trouble for the second game in a row. The Bruins have one power play goal already and they'll have less than a minute left on another man advantage to open the third period, and down 2-0, the Blue Jackets need to keep this game 5-on-5 as much as possible (and hopefully get a couple more power plays of their own). Curtis McElhinney has made some big stops for Columbus, which has only put nine shots on Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson through 40 minutes tonight.

The Bruins dictated things in the opening period, out-shooting the Blue Jackets 9-2 and spending a lot of time in the Columbus zone. Two shots isn't going to get it done in any period, but the Blue Jackets had two pucks go into their net - which makes the deficit even more concerning. They've been guilty of far too many turnovers so far and need to improve their puck management in the next 40 minutes, or else the Bruins might have more periods like the one just completed.

Pre-game warmups are underway at TD Garden, and it appears Chad Johnson will get the start in goal for the Bruins tonight. He has a 3-1-0 record on the season and one of those victories was a 3-2 overtime win over the Blue Jackets back on Nov. 14. Tuukka Rask was a winner for Boston yesterday against the New York Rangers.

- Curtis McElhinney is the starting goalie for the Blue Jackets. It's his first start since a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal on Nov. 15.

- Todd Richards will use a lineup very similiar to the one that defeat Edmonton 4-2 last night at Nationwide Arena. Brandon Dubinsky, who skated this morning, isn't quite ready to return but Tuesday is still the target for him.

WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards' pre-game media session today in Boston.

WATCH: Cam Atkinson speaks to the media after today's morning skate at TD Garden.

UPDATE (1:15 PM): Listen to Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards' pre-game conversation with Bob McElligott as they get set to take on the Bruins --> RICHARDS INTERVIEW

UPDATE (12:25 PM):
Listen to Jack Skille's pre-game comments after today's morning skate in Boston --> SKILLE INTERVIEW

UPDATE (12:15 PM):
Listen to Cam Atkinson's pre-game comments before facing the Bruins tonight --> ATKINSON INTERVIEW

UPDATE (12:00 PM):
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards just announced that Curtis McElhinney will start in net for Columbus tonight. It's his first start since a 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens back on Nov. 15, a game in which he made 38 saves and was named the No. 1 star.

UPDATE (11:40 AM):
Here's the latest edition of the Inside Edge podcast, where Bob McElligott and Jody Shelley break down last night's win over Edmonton, preview tonight's game in Boston and talk about those Jekyll & Hyde Jackets --> INSIDE EDGE NOV. 30

UPDATE (11:35 AM):
The Blue Jackets are on the ice at TD Garden for an optional morning skate. They have 11 players taking part including injured forward Brandon Dubinsky, who isn't likely to play tonight but Richards didn't rule it out yesterday.

The Blue Jackets arrived in Boston not long ago, flying out of Columbus shortly after last night's game against the Edmonton Oilers. It's not yet known if they will hold a morning skate, an optional skate, or forego the traditional on-ice element upon arriving in Boston. 

But regardless of practice/no practice, one thing is certain: we'll have the usual pre-game interviews, a chat with coach Todd Richards, and news on the official lineup when it becomes available. Stay tuned to Game Day Central for the latest!

Will the Blue Jackets split the back-to-back games among the goaltenders and give Curtis McElhinney the start in Boston? Todd Richards said prior to Friday's game that he wasn't sure, and that the team would make the decision after facing the Oilers at Nationwide Arena. 

On the injury front, Brandon Dubinsky (bruised foot) is traveling with the Blue Jackets to Boston but he isn't likely to play tonight. Richards said there has been daily progress with Dubinsky and he did take the morning skate on Friday, but they're waiting for Dubinsky to be as pain-free as possible before getting him back in the lineup.

As for the other injured players not named Nathan Horton (i.e. Derek MacKenzie and Jared Boll), they are both eligible to return from injured reserve today but there has been no indication whether that's going to happen. 

One of the Blue Jackets' better road games of the season came a little more than two weeks ago in Boston. They were 48 hours removed from letting a 3-2 lead slip away late in the third period against the Capitals, a game they'd eventually lose in overtime at Verizon Center.

As much as they had talked about playing their game and getting back to the essentials that they have to do every single game, the Blue Jackets really hadn't seen it in all facets until their game at TD Garden on Nov. 14. Though the end result - a 3-2 OT loss on an unfortunate breakaway goal in sudden death - wasn't what they were looking for, the Blue Jackets took complete control of the game in the third period and put the Bruins back on their heels.

Boston held a 2-1 lead entering the third period but the Blue Jackets found an extra gear - especially in the early minutes - and Nick Foligno scored a nifty goal to pull Columbus even at 2-2 shortly thereafter. And they weren't done; the Blue Jackets poured on the pressure but the Bruins did a good job collapsing in front of goaltender Chad Johnson and didn't allow many second and third opportunities. 

Columbus can expect much of the same tonight; the Bruins beat the New York Rangers in come-from-behind fashion on Friday afternoon with a pair of third-period goals. They weathered a furious push by the Rangers in the second period, but bounced back with a dominant effort in the third.

Tuukka Rask was terrific between the pipes for Boston and gave the Bruins a chance to win the game; with a 30-hour turnaround between games, it's a possibility that Bruins coach Claude Julien opts to go back to Johnson against the Blue Jackets. 



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