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Bruins Outbattled as Five-Game Win Streak Snapped by Columbus

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - The Bruins could have been on their longest win streak of the season after Saturday night's matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden.

While they were riding five wins and a nine-game point streak, their opponent came in on a four-game losing streak.

But the Black and Gold weren't prepared to battle, and after 60 minutes, they ended up with a 3-1 loss to Columbus and their winning ways halted.

The game remained 1-1 until 3:03 was left in the third period. Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert fought to the front of the net and jammed home a rebound and then added an empty-netter with 37.3 on the clock for the 3-1 win.

"I am disappointed. I’m gonna be honest here, I’m disappointed," Head Coach Claude Julien said during his postgame press conference. "I don’t care, six wins in a row, whatever, we just can’t afford to have those kind of outings."

"Disappointed that we didn’t come to play harder than we did and we wanted to take the easy way out. When we do that, we’re not successful," added Julien. "We’re a North-South type of team, we backcheck hard, we forecheck hard, and we make things happen by taking pucks to the net."

"We weren’t willing to do that. When we got into the battle, you could tell they wanted it more than us. We’ve gotta accept the blame and the responsibility. We weren’t good enough tonight and we shouldn’t accept that."

Despite a strong pace in the opening frame between the two teams, the Bruins allowed the first goal at 7:57 into the first period, when Ryan Johansen wristed a shot over Tuukka Rask on the power play. Dougie Hamilton had been in the box for hooking. It was Columbus' second shot of the game.

Columbus had come into the game ranked third on the man advantage.

The Bruins responded less than four minutes later, when Carl Soderberg put in his 10th of the season from atop the crease,. Loui Eriksson deflected a cross-ice pass from Chris Kelly in the right circle to Soderberg all alone in front, tying the game at 1-1.

The final two periods saw even shot totals, 8-8 and 14-14. The goaltending was solid from both Rask and Curtis McElhinney. But the Bruins didn't work to get to the front of the net like they had done during their recent stretch of success.

"For sure, that wasn’t the same effort we had previous games," a stoic Captain Zdeno Chara said postgame. "They outbattled us. They won the races for pucks and battles."

"It was a night and day from the past whatever games we played well," said Rask, who stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced. "We started a little slow and then we gained our game in the first period. Then the second and third we were just back to the old habits."

Despite Columbus' recent struggles, they are a team that competes hard on an nightly basis, with character in their lineup.

"We know exactly what kind of team they are. They still have some injuries there. You know that they’re gonna grind it out and really battle for every puck," said Rask. "And we weren’t ready for that. It doesn’t really matter who we play. When we’re not ready to battle for the ice and the pucks, it will not work for us."

"Tough to sit out for a couple days, definitely."

The Bruins had their chances and spurts of pressure, but didn't generate close to the amount of zone time they usually do when they're wearing teams down and forechecking hard.

"We were forcing a lot of things, instead of just keeping it simple," said Kelly.

The Bruins had two power play opportunities on the night, with one coming at the end of the first period and start of the second. They didn't generate much, contributing to a choppy opening four minutes of the middle frame.

There was only one shot on goal through the first seven minutes of the second, coming from the Blue Jackets' Jeremy Morin.

Boston went back on the man advantage midway through the period, when Zdeno Chara was tripped up by Nick Foligno. That power play went much like the first.

"Last game, our power play wasn't good either. Those are your best players and that kind of goes hand in hand with the rest of the game," said Julien. "You've got to be willing to outwork the penalty kill if you're going to have success on the power play. Just because you've got an extra player doesn't mean it should be easy. They did a good job penalty killing and we did a poor job with our power play."

"It kind of dictated the way we played tonight as a whole."

Neither David Krejci nor David Pastrnak recorded a shot on goal during the game. Along with Milan Lucic, the Bruins' trio didn't play the North-South game that gives them success, when they blend a straight line game with speed and skill.

"That line didn’t do much for us tonight, nobody did as a matter of fact," said Julien. "We need David [Pastrnak] to use his speed on the outside, we need Krech [David Krejci] to make sure to use his speed on the outside and find him."

"If you’re going to be cute, and try and overpass, you’re not going to get the results. That’s not how we’ve had success in the past. I don’t think that’s how we’re going to get success in the future."

"Just seemed like we weren't really committed to doing the things that we needed to do in the hard areas in order to get that win here," said Lucic. "And it ends up costing us with a loss."

The Blue Jackets pushed at the end of the second period with the game still tied at 1-1 and Rask had to come up with strong save sequences to give the Bruins a chance to regroup for the third.

"I thought we had some decent chances in the third, but ultimately, you've got to play 60 minutes," said Kelly. "And give them credit, they played right till the end and they found a goal with three minutes left to ultimately will the game. They stuck to their system and their structure better than we did."

The Bruins now have two games remaining before the All-Star Break with a back-to-back in Dallas and Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We’ve been talking about it a while like we’re going to take every game like it’s the most important game of the year," said Rask. "I’m going back to our old game and how we want to play this game and when the effort is that, it’s a huge step back. It’s a tough one to swallow"

"But, you know, there’s more hockey left so we just have to try to regain that confidence and that work ethic we had there and try to recapture it."

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