|The last time the Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins got together, the defending Stanley Cup champions had fully emerged from their early-season fog and entered a Nov. 17 game at TD Garden on a six-game winning streak. At that moment, Columbus had fallen on hard times losing four of its previous five contests – but the Bruins found out very quickly it would not be an easy two points. |
Derek MacKenzie’s redirection of a Nikita Nikitin point shot opened the scoring and pushed Boston back on its heels, something the high-flying Bruins had not been accustomed to on their winning streak. Curtis Sanford made his first start of the season that night and almost single-handedly got the Blue Jackets a point, making several pivotal saves (including highlight-reel stops on Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand) down the stretch in the third period and overtime.
Sanford has controlled the net for Columbus ever since, making 11 consecutive starts and giving up more than three goals on just three occasions in that span. He is expected to be the Blue Jackets’ starting goaltender tonight against the Bruins, as well, looking to improve on his 2.24 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
What’s been going on with the Bruins in the last three-plus weeks?
How about a near-perfect month of November and a 14-0-1 streak from Nov. 1 to Dec. 5, one of the most incredible stretches of hockey since the lockout. They have received production from just about every player on their roster and Tim Thomas has posted superhuman numbers in the cage (1.83 GAA, .941 save percentage).
Like all winning streaks, the Bruins’ phenomenal run came to an end at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg earlier this week. On Tuesday night, Boston dropped a 2-1 decision to the Jets, who are playing strong hockey themselves of late. Two nights later in Boston, the surprising Florida Panthers got 40 saves from Jose Theodore in a 2-0 win, handing the Bruins their second consecutive loss. With that defeat, Boston dropped back-to-back games for the first time since late October.
| || || |
|Nash (8) ||Seguin (13) |
|Prospal (15) ||Bergeron, Peverley (14) |
|Prospal (21) ||Seguin (25) |
|Dorsett (71) ||Marchand (46) |
|MacKenzie (+6) ||Seguin (+19) |
|Sanford (5-3-3) |
|Thomas (15-5-0) |
|Sanford (2.23) ||Thomas (1.83) |
|Sanford (.917) ||Thomas (.941) || |
|• Seguin enters tonight’s game atop the Bruins’ scoring race and at 19, he is one of three teenagers currently leading their teams in scoring, joining 19-year-old Jeff Skinner of Carolina and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 18. Seguin entered last night’s games as the NHL plus/minus leader at +19. |
• Tonight marks second of two meetings overall and only meeting at Nationwide Arena this season between the Blue Jackets and Bruins. Columbus is 5-4-2 all-time against Boston, including a 3-2-1 mark at Nationwide Arena. The Jackets have gone 2-0-1 in the last three meetings in Columbus.
• Antoine Vermette has goals in four of the last 12 games after scoring his fourth of the season Thursday against Nashville. Prior to the streak, he had gone the previous 21 games without a goal.
• Columbus has a 6-4-3 record when it shuts out its opponents on the power play. The club has scored four shorthanded goals, ranking fifth (tied) in the NHL.
• The Blue Jackets have fired 30-or-more shots on goal in 18-of-28 games and rank ninth in the NHL in shots on goal per game (31.8), while allowing fewer than 30 shots in 15-of-28 games and ranking sixth in the NHL in shots against per game (28.5).