Well, it was said this might be a trap game. The Bruins were coming off a resounding 7-3 win against the Dallas Stars to finish their season-long road trip. They were sitting even with Tampa in the standings (sans ROW tiebreaker). They looked like they could just whistle past the graveyard when it came to shuffling an already-thin defensive corps, having escaped Dallas with only three goals allowed--two of which were fluky at-best and questionable at worse.
If there was one part of this game that similar to the win that preceded it, was the weird, controversial goal trend continued. What ended up being the winning goal would be the fifth past back-up netminder Jonas Gustavsson, who was once again ineffective against a sub-.500 team, where Brandon Saad pick-up up the garbage after a bizarre play where Scott Hartnell fired Dennis Seidenberg's downed stick at Gustavsson in his own attempt to pot the loose puck (the commentators were apparently sure this was accidental, though I'm skeptical since Hartnell's always been a bit of a rat). The goal, even after Claude Julien reviewed it, would stand. After the Bruins had had their own brush with goaltender interference dismissed earlier--Loui Eriksson's first goal, his 22nd of the year, had involved a lot of contact on Jackets' netminder Korpisalo--perhaps it should've been expected. Saad's 22nd goal of the season stood after review, and that provided the insurance goal that'd wind up being the difference.
Earlier in this one, it was established fairly quickly that the Bruins simply weren't up to Saturday's dominant standards, as the only time they really summed to buzz was during a hot start and a third period surge that ultimately fell short. While it's fair to point out that the Columbus Blue Jackets are currently not the horrendous team that their record would suggest, as they've been breaking even since that horrendous start--and we can wax poetic about match-ups all we want, but there's still no excuse for being outshot 35-30 by this team. On home ice. While the offense had flashes, it was generally miserable performance.
Jonas Gustavsson didn't help much either, as even if you give the Swedish netminder the benefit of the doubt on the his 5th GA, there were still four goals allowed before that. Worse still, the only one that would be categorized as a snipe rather than evoke "maybe Rask should've been in tonight" was Boone Jenner wicked wrister that hit the pipe and went in at the beginning of the second. Putting the candle on the cake of Gustavsson's awful performance was the fact that the Jackets hit at least four posts and crossbars too, which by my count left him one away from double-digit times to he was beaten cleanly.
So how'd this all happen? Well, the Bruins came out flying, and the Patrice Bergeron - Brad Marchand tandem applied much of the pressure early, laying siege to Joonas Korpisalo's net, only to not convert on a strong-looking power play, and then concede first when Boone Jenner scored a PPG after a Kevan Miller holding penalty. Jenner was able to tip Cam Atkinson's one-timer by Gustavsson, and the Bruins trailed 1-0. Because this wasn't the point in the game when things got stupid, the Bruins did answer right back when Torey Krug's drive bounced off a net-driving Loui Erikkson and into the empty side of the Columbus net. This goal, also, was reviewed for interference (as mentioned above), as Eriksson had gotten a pretty good piece of Korpisalo on the way by. However, goaltender interference is the new pass interference, meaning that everyone's threshold for it seems to be different in some way, it wasn't called. 1-1. It'd stay that score through the first twenty minutes. It was easy to think something like: maybe the Bruins don't have their best foot forward tonight, but this is still their game to lose. Sometimes when you're opponents playing at 5/10, all you need is to find a consistent 6/10 instead of trying to be perfect.
You hypothetical blind optimistic, you.
After blitzing Dallas two days ago, the Bruins were the blitz-ees on Monday night in the second period. Jenner sniped his aforemented second goal a mere 21 seconds into the period, the aforementioned wicked shot after a lackluster zone entry defense by the Bruins. Seth Jones and Brandon Dubinsky assisted, and the Bruins were back in the hole. They'd stay there for a little while, as the first series of shifts in the second were inexplicably all Blue Jackets. But yet again, they climbed right back out, this time due to a pretty nasty deflection of a Joe Morrow shot by Matt Beleskey. Joonas Korpisalo had no chance, and at just three minutes into the period it was now 2-2.
The wheels began falling back off when William Karlsson showed good awareness in beating the Bruins' forwards to a lackluster clearance/outlet bank pass by Morrow, and unleashed a turnaround slapper on the Bruins net. Gustavsson somehow didn't pick up hide nor hair of this happening, even though the screen was far from total, and Karlsson's shot found the upper corner over Gustavsson's left shoulder. For the third time, the Jackets had taken a lead at TD Garden. This time, they would not relinquish it.
Still holding the 3-2 edge, Columbus added to their lead when a rather slow Scott Hartnell deflection caught Gustavsson going the wrong way about five seconds into the Bruins having to kill off a Patrice Bergeron hooking call. Mercifully for the Bruins, they managed to escaped the second period without further damage, but the middle frame that had served them so well in Dallas ended up being their downfall against the Blue Jackets.
In the third, Matt Beleskey's second of the game--somehow deflected a Kevan Miller shot through Korpisalo--closed the gap to 4-3, and the Bruins had the better of the play until the deflating Saad goal. Finally, to round out the scoring, Loui Eriksson scored his second of the game and 23rd of the year before, seconds later, Columbus's Dalton Prout scored an ENG shooting from his own corner, his second of the year. And yes, both his goals this season are against the Bruins.
- While it was a terrible night for Gustavsson, the defensive pairings from tonight showed very little to suggest that Zach Trotman and/or Colin Miller shouldn't be back in the rotation soon. While actually they managed an okay showing in terms of points, the Bruins had trouble in both generating chances that weren't close in and stopping Columbus from entering the zone (as evidenced by giving up 35 SOG in a game the B's were chasing).
- The fourth lines of both teams were almost comically not a factor, and yours truly had to keep checking the scoresheets to confirm that Gregory Campbell for Columbus and Zac Rinaldo for Boston had actually been on the ice. Campbell actually was on long enough to record a -2 for the game, which is baffling.
- While we've seen Rask, particularly, have some unlucky games, Korpisalo had to skate away from this one wondering what the hell he could've done to stop any of the four Bruins goals; Beleskey's goals were both insanely good deflections, and Eriksson's were both through screens (with the first one being Krug's shot going past a screen and deflecting in off Eriksson).
- Patrice Bergeron was honored during a break in play for recording his 600th career point. He continues to be perfect, even on the rare night where neither he nor Brad Marchand scored.