COLUMBUS -- Although Oct. 12 is the traditionally recognized date for Columbus Day, before it officially become a holiday on the second Monday of October, Saturday was not Columbus' day -- not after the Boston Bruins left Nationwide Arena with a 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a matinee before a crowd of 14,092 that included a significant contingent rooting for the visitors.
Those fans had plenty to cheer as the Bruins overcame a power-play goal by Jack Johnson in the first period and used 26 saves by Tuukka Rask to deliver a win in the 700th NHL game for coach Claude Julien (378-233-10-79).
"They had the puck in our end for some time but they couldn't get a lot of shots," Rask said. "We blocked a lot of shots today, which was great."
Columbus fashions itself as a speedy team but found space hard to come by as the Bruins applied their usual physical game and took control in the third period to break a 1-1 deadlock.
Loui Eriksson scored the go-ahead goal 49 seconds into the final period and Milan Lucic hit the empty net with 33 seconds left to drop Columbus to 0-2-0 at home. The Blue Jackets are 2-0-0 on the road.
The Blue Jackets had a first period power-play goal by Johnson but could not put any of their next 24 shots past Rask. Chris Kelly evened the score late in the second to set the stage for Eriksson's winner.
"I thought even though it was a 1-0 game they started taking over a little bit in the second period," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "They stuck with their game and how they played and the things we do well and we go got away from it.
"We played hard, but there were areas they were better than us. Their compete [level] in the offensive zone; they kept the picks alive better than us. Their defensemen did a better job getting pucks to the net."
Transitioning off a turnover, Eriksson took a backhand feed through the slot from Patrice Bergeron in the lower right circle and squeezed a backhander of his own between the glove of Sergei Bobrovsky and the right post for his first goal with the Bruins after arriving in a blockbuster offseason trade with the Dallas Stars.
"It wasn't the prettiest one but I'll take it," he said. "I've had some slow starts over the years. It will come. It's always nice to get the first one."
Earlier, Kelly got the equalizer at 16:18 of the second. He was 12 seconds removed from the completion of his hooking penalty when he moved across the blue line and fired a shot that fooled Bobrovsky for his second goal.
"For the most part I thought we played a pretty good game," Columbus center Derek MacKenzie said. "We could have been a little better as far as our reaction to that lucky first goal. I don't think anyone expected to shut out Boston so whether it was a good goal or bad goal we should have assume they were going to score somewhere along the line.
"Once that happened we kind of let off the gas a little bit and allowed them back into the game. Most of us would have predicted a 2-1 game one way or another. It was a 10-minute lapse for us that was enough for them to get the win."
Until that goal it had been a frustrating afternoon for the Bruins, who were coming off a 2-0 home loss Thursday to the Colorado Avalanche and were thwarted by Bobrovsky on their first 18 shots.
"We were grinding it out and not getting much to that point," Julien said. "The forwards worked hard and Chris got that goal. It give seemed to give us a little bit more life."
Boston had a prime opportunity to tie the score early in the middle stanza when the Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner received a double minor for high sticking Adam McQuaid. But the Bruins got only one shot on the first 2:13 of power-play time before MacKenzie drew a tripping call on Dennis Seidenberg to negate the rest of the advantage.
The Blue Jackets' offense was non-existent for nearly the first 19 minutes of the game, but thanks to their second power play, they were able to cash in for the 1-0 lead.
Boston threw its weight around and was able to limit the Jackets to only two shots until Patrice Bergeron was whistled for holding at 18:18. Columbus worked the puck in the zone to score on its third shot of the period at 18:52. Johnson took a cross-ice pass from James Wisniewski at the upper perimeter of the right circle and one-timed the puck past Rask to give the Blue Jackets their third power-play goal in 11 tries this season.
Boston managed only seven shots in the first period but almost grabbed the game's first score 15 minutes in as Torey Krug was left alone as he skated in from the left point. But Bobrovsky held his ground and forced Krug to go below the goal line before cutting back and trying unsuccessfully to stuff the puck at the near post.
The Bruins return home Monday for a Columbus Day matinee against the Detroit Red Wings while the Blue Jackets play Tuesday at Detroit.
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