The Blue Jackets returned home Tuesday night to Nationwide Arena looking to keep the hot-ride rolling.
Coming in with points in 15 of their previous 17 games, they welcomed to town a Bruins team that played in Philadelphia a night before, losing to the Flyers 6-5 in shootout. They also probably wanted a little revenge for losing on home ice a few weeks ago to these Blue Jackets, so it was definitely a good test for the home squad.
Elvis Merzlikins — 34 saves on the night — was back between the pipes for his seventh-straight game and Tuukka Rask was Boston’s starter, starting out. However, the veteran was forced out of the game a little over a minute into play. Incidental contact by Emil Bemstrom, knocking Rask in the crease as Bemstrom skated by, forced Rask out of the game.
Jaroslav Halak — 24 saves — who was in net Monday night and yielded five goals in the loss to Philadelphia, would be forced to take over. Brandon Carlo crosschecked Bemstrom into Rask as you can see below.
Boston had a breakaway opportunity by David Krejci that sailed high, keeping the game scoreless, just under the four-minute mark of the opening period. Boston did not record their first shot on goal until close to the end of their first power play, nearly eight minutes left in the first period.
Right after this, Pierre-Luc Dubois charged the other way, bringing the puck out and Gustav Nyquist’s initial shot squirted through Halak. David Savard, who was crashing the net, appears to have had his momentum assist with the puck finding the back of the net. But the play was officially blown dead, the goal waived off, and the explanation coming from the on-ice official as goaltender interference.
It gets better though. Alexander Wennberg, of all people, does get the puck into the back of the net for real, and in consecutive games, to give Columbus the 1-0 lead. It’s his fourth goal of the season, doubling his total of last season.
It’s the first time since 2016-17 that Wennberg has scored in consecutive games. And it was a pretty nice goal, as Wennberg entered the offensive zone, skates to the slot, puts on a deke and unleashes it, beating Halak.
More of that, please?
For the goal, assists went to Vladislav Gavrikov and Nathan Gerbe, who stays hot. Columbus’ 1-0 lead was where things headed after the opening period and unlike the previous games out west, Columbus looked energized and ready to go.
Similarly to the first period, Merzlikins was not tested much through the half-way point of the second. Columbus held an 11-3 shots advantage before Boston started to close the gap, and ultimately catch the Blue Jackets, in that category. For the period, the Bruins outshot Columbus 14-13, while Columbus held the 22-21 edge overall.
#CBJ lead 1-0 after two. Boston with a big push offensively, but Columbus with an edge as far as the quality they are generating.— Alison (@AlisonL) January 15, 2020
Jackets at 5v5 with:
46.88% of shot attempts
54.98% of expected goals pic.twitter.com/SU3n4Ata97
Coming into the night, when the Blue Jackets lead after two periods this season, they were 9-1-3.
With both teams among the best in terms of GA/GP, Kevin Stenlund putting the Blue Jackets ahead two goals early in the third with a power play goal was a huge boost. The shot came from the left-side faceoff circle of Halak, beating the goaltender stick-side for Stenlund's fourth. Bemstrom and Nick Foligno each picked up assists.
The former Bruin, Riley Nash, capped this one with the third goal of the game, unassisted, and his fourth of the season to seal this one for Columbus 3-0.
Very appropriate on this night for Merzlikins: The king.
Nash's goal began with a great save by red-hot Elvis Merzlikins: pic.twitter.com/oSWlV9uyaL— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) January 15, 2020
With the victory, Columbus takes the season series from the Bruins, with still one left to play in Boston Mar. 16. More importantly, the Blue Jackets extend the run to points in 16 of their last 18 games now, with Metropolitan foes up next in the, Hurricanes Thursday (7:00 at home), Devils Saturday (7:00 at home), and Rangers Sunday (7:00 at Madison Square Garden). Columbus is back into a tie with the Flyers for the second wild card.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played his 1,000th career game as a Bruin. Tonight is the first time the Bruins have been shutout all season. Entering play, Columbus is first in GA/GP since Dec. 9 (1.88), and came in sixth overall (2.65), while Boston came in second (2.51). Seth Jones (27:00) led the game in ice-time. Brandon Carlo (20:43) led the Bruins in ice-time. Emil Bemstrom, Boone Jenner, Riley Nash, Gustav Nyquist, and Jones all co-led the Blue Jackets with three shots. Patrice Bergeron led the Bruins with four shots on net. Alexander Wennberg’s goal, which ended up as the game-winner, is his first GWG this season, and first since 2017-18. If you’re wondering the last time the Blue Jackets had consecutive shutouts, you don’t have to look far; Sergei Bobrovsky last accomplished that feat last season Mar. 24 at the Canucks, and then Mar. 26 against the Islanders.
Merzlikins has made eight-straight starts, posting a 6-2-0 record with a 1.64 GAA, .950 SV% and two shutouts since Dec. 31. He hasn't allowed a goal in his last 137:42 of play. #CBJ— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) January 15, 2020
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