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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Anything Goes On A Friday Night In Columbus

Being such a hopeless creature of habit, I will admit that I was completely thrown off by having the Bruins play on a Friday-something which happens about as often as Kim Kardashian covering up his gigantic ass. For two periods tonight at Nationwide Arena, Boston (13-8-0) was terrible as they fell behind host Columbus (6-11-2) 2-0.

Thankfully, the B's had just enough resiliency to rally in a bonkers third period and then eventually win 4-3 in a shootout. Nobody scored through six rounds so rookie Anton Khokhlachev ended it in the seventh with the lone goal in only his second career NHL game. It had all the makings of a trap game with Montreal and Pittsburgh waiting on the horizon not to mention Thanksgiving break.

Beginning tonight, Boston has three games in four days so head coach Claude Julien elected to sit Tuukka Rask in favor of rookie Niklas Svedberg (25 saves). The move was a no-brainer, even when Svedberg gave up a pair of soft goals in the first period. Ryan Johansen blocked Kevan Miller's shot in his own zone then skated on a partial breakaway before letting loose a shot that Svedberg got plenty of but couldn't keep from crossing the line at 9:52. Johansen's seventh goal of the season was unassisted.

Just 1:38 after Johansen's goal, the Blue Jackets went up 2-0 on Nick Foligno's deflection which actually went off his body. Jordan Leopold took the shot and Johansen had the second assist on Foligno's team-leading 10th goal of the season. Earlier in the frame, Patrice Bergeron's shot was swept off the goal line by a Columbus defenseman.

Svedberg's gaffes had nothing on Sergei Bobrovsky (38 saves) who breathed life into Boston by allowing one of the worst goals you'll ever see in the NHL. To the left of the faceoff dot, Dennis Seidenberg decided to put the puck on the net at 1:28 of the third period and somehow it went in despite not bouncing or doing anything wacky. Matt Bartkowski (who went to nearby Ohio State) and Chris Kelly received the joke assists.

That turned out to be the spark that the B's needed as they tied it at 9:33 on Matt Fraser's re-direct of Bartkowski's slap-pass. Fraser's third goal of the season (1st in 8 games) was also assisted by Bergeron who played it back to Bartkowski at the point. Before you could say full meltdown, the B's were up for the first time (3-2) 1:59 after Fraser's tally. Daniel Paille picked the perfect time to break his slump (1st goal in 37 games!) as he took advantage of the turnover created by Carl Soderberg.

Boston enjoyed that lead for a grand total of 1:15 since Jack Johnson (please read his tragic bankruptcy story) one-timed a pass from Johansen and Foligno. The Bruins quickly bounced back from that devastating goal as they outshot the Blue Jackets 7-1 in overtime. Bobrovsky made up for his poor play by owning overtime. The shootout went on for way too long with not enough goals but you can't argue with the final result.

Columbus is a train wreck so for that reason alone, Saturday (7, NESN) vs. Montreal figures to be way harder. Boston has suffered two humbling defeats (6-4 on Oct. 16 & 5-1 last Thursday) already this season in Montreal so they owe the Canadiens a beating at the Garden. It is a given that the atmosphere will be great, hopefully the game follows suit. Rask has to prove that he can beat Montreal and likewise, his teammates (looking at you Lucic) need to stay focused and not get caught up in the Canadiens' usual garbage.

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