BLUE JACKETS 6 | BRUINS 2
The first game back after a long layoff can be a difficult task, but the Blue Jackets got rid of their holiday legs in short order tonight.
They played a strong first period and exploded for four goals in the second period to pull away from the Boston Bruins, locking down one of their most convincing wins of the season: a 6-2 decision in front of 16,795 at Nationwide Arena.
And on a night when many were expecting the main fireworks to be a rematch between Dalton Prout and Milan Lucic (which happened, but we’ll get to it momentarily), the Blue Jackets’ offense erupted and never relented against a Bruins team that has shown Columbus its comeback ability first-hand.
Scott Hartnell scored twice in his first game back from a broken finger, Brandon Dubinsky was strong with two assists and 14 face-off wins, and Curtis McElhinney picked up his second win of the season and first since Nov. 14 in Philadelphia.
“Everyone in here was disappointed after Monday (a 5-1 loss to Nashville on home ice),” Connauton said. “(Before tonight’s game) we said, ‘let’s start a new streak.’”
Hartnell scored his second of the game and broke a 1-1 tie on his first shift of the second period, winning a battle for position with Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton and getting his stick on a point shot from Connauton.
A few minutes later, Lucic engaged Prout and they dropped the gloves in a spirited bout. Both players landed some serious blows in what could best be described as a draw, but the fight really kicked the Blue Jackets into another gear.
They were flying in the minutes after the scrap and scored three more goals in the frame. Connauton scored on a seeing-eye wrist shot through traffic at 6:32 - which ended the night for Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg - but the Jackets weren’t done there.
Nick Foligno scored his team-leading 17th of the season on the power play, converting a perfect pass from Jack Johnson at 9:26. Matt Calvert scored unassisted at 19:09 of the second period to send the Jackets into the room with a three-goal lead, and they’d boost it to four on a Jeremy Morin goal (his first as a Blue Jacket) at 7:35 of the third.
With two more points, the Blue Jackets are 9-1-1 in December and Todd Richards earned his 100th victory as Columbus’ head coach.
He laughed when asked if he’d be able to savor this one with a few days off before facing Minnesota on New Year’s Eve, saying it was “just another win.”
The consensus within the Blue Jackets dressing room was that Prout’s Round 2 bout with Lucic sparked something on the bench. The building was into it, the game had ratcheted up once again, and the Jackets came out of that sequence firing on all cylinders and frustrating a team that has done the same to many opponents over the years.
vs. Minnesota Wild
Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET