November 18, 2011

Bruins don't sugarcoat 'sloppy' win over Jackets

Tuukka Rask stopped Antoine Vermette in the third round of the shootout to seal the win. (Getty)

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON – By all accounts, Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets was supposed to be a snoozer for the Bruins. Winners of six-straight coming into the contest, the only question that seemed to remain for the Black and Gold was how much they’d win by, as Columbus came in with the least points among all 30 NHL teams.

The tilt proved to be a doozey, but not for the reasons anyone expected. The B’s played down to their competition and narrowly squeaked out a 2-1 shootout victory over the cellar-dwelling Jackets.

“That wasn’t our best game but like I said it’s going to happen throughout the course of the year,” Patrice Bergeron said. “Sometimes games you’re going to play better than the other team and you’re going to come out on the losing side and the opposite is true and tonight is probably one of them. It was one of those nights we got a little lucky getting the two [points] but we found a way.”

Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford nearly stole the show, turning in a phenomenal 26-save performance in his first start since January of 2009. It took a David Krejci goal in the third round of the shootout and a follow-up stop by Tuukka Rask on Antoine Vermette to keep the Blue Jackets from earning their first road victory and sending Boston’s winning streak to a screeching halt.

“I wouldn’t say this one was gratifying because I don’t think we played well enough,” Bruins forward Rich Peverley said when asked if it was satisfying to scratch out a win. “But if we had played really well, played well defensively, maybe that would be gratifying but I think we could have been a lot better. I think everybody knows that.”

Tuukka Rask was undoubtedly the one Bruin who left little to be desired. The netminder stopped 30-of-31 (and two of Columbus’ three shooters in the shootout) on the night to stretch his personal winning streak to three games.

"Yeah a win is always a win no matter how you get it,” said Rask. “Today we didn’t play our best hockey. Everybody saw that, but the result is the only thing that matters in this game and we were able to squeeze the win.”

During their current streak, the Bruins breezed through the first five victories with relative ease, outscoring their opponents 30-10 in the process. But consecutive wins by a single goal over seemingly-lesser foes once again shows why the games aren’t decided on paper.

“People can lose sight of how hard it is to win and how close teams are, whether it’s last place teams or teams that are struggling, it’s tough,” defenseman Andrew Ference said. “And if you don’t come out sharp, you get games like tonight where an ugly goal can easily win it no problem. So it’s just a reminder every once and a while that we’re not a team that can come in and do a seventy percent game and get away with it too often.”

Nevertheless, Boston finished up their five-game homestand with an unblemished record and will look to continue their winning ways during an upcoming three-game road swing.

“We talked about it before when we were looking at the schedule we had and that was the goal and now we accomplished it,” Chara said of the team’s run at the Garden. “But that's not exactly how we were looking at it when we started playing those five games at home or six games, whatever, six and seven games we played at home.

“We were thinking one game at a time and our goal was to accomplish as many points as possible and we got all of them so now we have to set a new goal and we're going to have to be playing probably a little bit at home and on the road. We can't be satisfied. We just have to keep going.”

Their bid for win No. 8 in a row will come Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum where the B’s will take on the Islanders.