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Game 18 Recap: Improvement Unrewarded

With a few days to think about the late game collapse and OT loss to the Washington Capitals, the Blue Jackets needed to use that frustration to motivate them against a Bruins squad that has been dominant on the TD Garden ice.

Given some slight relief by the Bruins starting Chad Johnson over Tuukka Rask, Columbus weathered some early attacks on Sergei Bobrovsky, including a Boston Power Play in the opening minutes after Brandon Dubinsky was whistled for a slash on Jarome Iginla, and managed to draw first blood for the third game in a row.

Technically the Jackets were not on the power play when they scored, as Boston had just killed off a Milan Lucic penalty, but Mark Letestu would chase a loose puck down below the Bruins’ goal before sending a quick feed through the collapsed defense, allowing Blake Comeau to strike on a one-timer from right in front of the net.

The lead held despite pressure from the home squad (and their ever enthusiastic crowd), but the team’s late period woes struck them once again. This time, Zdeno Chara would unleash a blast from the blue line at the front of the net which Loui Eriksson would redirect off his skate and into the net.

Bob argued pretty vehemently for a kicking motion, rather than a deflection, but the goal was upheld after video review, and the Jackets would be tied going into the middle frame.

Both teams came out fairly evenly matched for the second, but the Bruins’ transition game fueled the next goal, with Torrey Krug intercepting a Fedor Tyutin clearing attempt and reversing it back through the neutral zone. Krug would send a quick pass through the Jackets’ forecheck to Gregory Campbell, who came down the boards into the Columbus zone, and Shawn Thornton would pick up his drop pass and unleash a hard shot from the half wall that tucked under the crossbar for the 2-1 lead.

Unlike some recent games, though, the Jackets had an answer. Nikita Nikitin sent a long outlet pass up to Nick Foligno, exploiting a Boston line change, and he would tear down the ice with Michael Chaput, forcing Boston to defend against a give and go.

Keeping the puck, Foligno fired a hard shot in on Johnson, then caught his own rebound in the slot before hammering it home.

Energized by the tying goal, the Jackets pressed on the Bruins through the balance of the second period, and hit the ice for the final period of regulation with intent.

Pushing the Bruins back hard, they hammered at Johnson but could not find the go ahead goal despite drawing two more power plays and outshooting their opponent 12-7.

With both clubs earning a point, we headed to OT, and nearly ended it twice, first on an early attack from Jack Johnson and Brandon Dubinsky that Dubi couldn’t quite settle down, and the second on a beautiful spin move by Foligno that Johnson managed to find through an R.J. Umberger screen.

Keeping up the pressure, the Jackets kept Boston from registering a single shot on goal through four minutes, but unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, OT currently lasts 5:00.

As the Jackets cycled the puck around the Boston zone, Cam Atkinson bobbled a David Savard pass, and tried to shoot the puck through Milan Lucic rather than sending it back behind the goal.

Lucic would block the shot and chase a rebound that went high into the neutral zone, jumping on the loose puck and leaving all four Jackets on the ice flat-footed. Settling the puck down as he slid across the low slot, Lucic would go five hole on Bob, scoring the game winner with 0:49 left on the clock. It would be the only registered shot for Boston in the extra period.

On the one hand, I think you have to give credit to the Jackets for playing one of their better road games against a VERY tough opponent, and there’s something to be said for earning a point, putting them four back of third place in the Metro.

On the other, we saw exactly the same results as last game due to a very similar root cause – bad puck decisions late in a period leading to a goal for the other squad. It’s like making a delicious chocolate cake, frosting it beautifully, serving it up for your guests, and then pouring motor oil on it right before they try to take a bite.

This team is young. Mistakes will happen. But when you make the same mistake over and over again, people will get rightfully frustrated.

Final Score – Boston 3 – Jackets 2 (OT)

Standard Bearers:

  • Nick Foligno – Welcome back, b’day. Here’s hoping that getting some weight off his shoulders at home will lead to more success on the ice.
  • Ryan MurrayWhile he didn’t tally a point tonight, Murray was once again our best defenseman, bailing out a near certain Boston goal in the first period and making up for a LOT of mistakes on the ice. If he’d been out on the ice in the final minute of OT….well, what-ifs will kill you, right?
  • Ryan JohansenAnother guy who may not have scored, but who was dangerous all night. Johan was constantly facing guys like Chara, Eriksson, and Iginla, and making them work to contain him. More signs that he’s making the right kind of impact.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • Power Play – I will admit that Boston has a league leading PK, but the Jackets earned four chances. In a tied game in the third period, the Jackets earned two power plays and managed a single shot on goal. That’s just frustrating.
  • Marian GaborikSpeaking of just one shot on goal. I’m not sure how far I take the speculation that he’s on his way out of town, but I am starting to wonder if his trick groin is acting up again. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of jump in his game right now, and something about his skating looks a bit off.
  • Cam Atkinson – Cam, Cam, Cam, Cam. Cam, this is God, what the HELL were you thinking? You know better than to try forcing that shot, especially when you’re barely able to handle the pass. Bad decision, and it really cost the team. You can be better than this.

No rest for the wicked, as the Jackets will fly home tonight and take on Les Habitants tomorrow here at Nationwide. If the team can play with the level of effort we saw in the third period and OT, better results will come.

Here’s hoping that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.