“Playing the perfect road game” can be become cliché for a hockey team, but tonight in Boston, the Blue Jackets did everything except earn the full two points.
They allowed just one goal in 65 minutes of hockey to the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins and received a tremendous performance from Curtis Sanford between the pipes. Signed in the offseason to be Columbus’ No. 3 goaltender, Sanford was called upon to make his first NHL start since 2009 in one of the league’s most hostile environments.
He made 26 saves and gave the Blue Jackets every chance to win the game, but was bested in the shootout in a 2-1 loss at TD Garden.
The Blue Jackets scored the first goal for the seventh time this season (3-3-1 in those contests) on a power-play marker from Derek MacKenzie. Defenseman Nikita Nikitin floated a wrist shot toward the net that MacKenzie tipped through the legs of Boston netminder Tuukka Rask. The goal came at 2:49 of the second period, but the lead lasted less than two minutes.
Adam McQuaid evened the score at 4:24 on another long shot from the point. The puck appeared to deflect in off Rich Peverley, but the goal was officially credited to McQuaid for his first of the year. For the next 40 minutes of regulation and overtime play, Sanford and Rask traded saves as the teams traded chances. In the shootout, the Blue Jackets got a second-round goal from Mark Letestu and the Bruins tallied with Peverley and Krejci.
The Bruins got a power play in the early moments of overtime when Antoine Vermette was called slashing in the defensive end. Columbus’ penalty killers stood tall and got several big stops from Sanford to move ahead to the shootout.
Boston had its share of chances to win in overtime, as Tyler Seguin, Peverley and Zdeno Chara all had prime scoring opportunities. Chara’s one-timer hit the goal post and Seguin was stoned by Sanford as the power play wound down. The penalty kill gave the Blue Jackets a lift, and they nearly won the game later in overtime with a power play of their own.
- The Blue Jackets have worked hard at getting more production from their power play, and they were rewarded with MacKenzie’s second-period strike. Columbus went 1-for-3 on the power play tonight, and has power play goals in three of the last four games. The club is 3-of-15 (20.0 percent) the last four games, after going 1-for-20 (5.0 percent) the five games prior.
- Columbus is now 5-4-2 all-time against Boston, including a 3-2-2 mark at TD Garden. The last three games have been decided by one goal.
- Nikitin has stepped right into a big role on the Blue Jackets blue line since being acquired last week. He has assists in three-straight games with a helper on MacKenzie’s goal. The Russian defenseman has logged a point in each game with the club. He has played in nearly 24 minutes in each of those games, as well.
- Columbus owned the face-off circle tonight, winning 56 percent of all draws. Samuel Pahlsson won 12-of-18 face-offs tonight and has won 20-of-29 face-offs (69.0 percent) the last two games.
vs. Nashville Predators
Bridgestone Arena | Nashville, TN
Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: CD 102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com