(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Boston Bruins were play a home game, this time against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who the Bs forced to an overtime game they won just six days ago. The Blue Jackets scored first, but the Bruins managed to go into the first intermission tied at one with only two less shots on goal than Columbus. Then they came out in the second and were outshot by the Blue Jackets 15-8 and gave up three goals while only getting one themselves.
As the middle frame came to an end the score was 4-2 and the shots on goal for the first 40 minutes were 27-18, both in favor of Columbus. Twitterverse was demanding a blow-up of the team by trade deadline. And the Bruins? Undoubtedly they weren’t pleased with their performance in that 20-minute frame. For Columbus, their entry into the Bruins zone seemed effortless, in part from their play and in part from the Bruins lack of defense.
“Yeah, we tried to get it in, you know, get a forecheck going and you know sometimes that bounces off some teams and you can make that play on the blue line,” Boone Jenner, who scored twice, described after the game. “But I thought for the most part our decisions, either if it’s getting it in or make a play entering the zone, I thought we did a good job at that.”
For the Bruins, things would still get worse in the third, but not right away.
Just under three minutes into the final twenty, Matt Beleskey would get his second goal of the game and bring the Bruins within one of tying the game. Roughly twelve minutes later, at 14:29, Brandon Saad would get Columbus back up by a pair on a goal that Jonas Gustavsson couldn’t have stopped as a stick came flying at him. Head Coach Claude Julien used his Coach’s Challenge suggesting that the stick constituted goalie interference. The referees reviewed the play—with the big question being was the stick intentionally hurled at Gustavsson. The referees felt that it was the result of the Columbus player’s attempt to hit the puck himself, and ruled that it was a good goal.
Saad goal pic.twitter.com/QVgd3AwMVw
— Stephanie (@myregularface) February 23, 2016
Approximately a minute later as the Bergeron line was on the ice, the Bruins were whistled off sides and in frustration Brad Marchand sent the puck to the end boards. The referee signaled a penalty and Marchand headed to the box, assuming he was getting two minutes. Instead he was given a 10-minute misconduct and an early shower, since there was only 4:16 remaining in regulation.
After the game, Marchand’s answers to questions about this call were singular: No, Very, No. He wasn’t given an explanation for the call and was surprised by it. He also didn’t remember every having seen anyone get such a penalty before. Perhaps an explanation will come along, but regardless, it took the Bruins’ top goal scorer out of the game with them down two and under five minutes to go.
With Gustavsson pulled for the extra attacker, Loui Eriksson would get his second goal on the night, again bringing his team within one goal to tie, with 2:57 left in regulation, but the hope of the fans would be smashed 42 seconds later when Dylan Prout potted an empty netter again restoring the Blue Jackets’ two-goal lead.
The Bruins came into Monday night’s game with an impressive 20-7-3 record on the road and an unimpressive 12-14-3 home record. Home ice is supposed to be an advantage.
“I don’t know, but if I had the answer then obviously we would fix that,” Gustavsson said after the game. “If you are talking about tonight, I think we worked hard, we scored four goals, and for myself I have to find a way to make one more save. I felt like the puck wasn’t really bouncing our way tonight. I guess it’s about small details, we have it in this group, we show it especially on the road, but obviously we want to figure it out and be a strong home team.”
Gustavsson’s comments on working hard were not shared by Marchand.
“We never should have been in that position, so … bad game for us,” he responded with dejection.
The Bruins will be back at it on Wednesday night as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have also struggled this season. Perhaps they can put their heads together and come up with the answer to the season-long perplexing question of their struggles on home ice.
The one positive on the night was that the Bruins honored First Responders. From the ceremonial puck drop with MBTA Transit Police Sergeant Richard “Dic” Donohue, who was injured while pursuing the Boston Marathon bombers, to the singing of the national anthem by the Boston Fire Department Acappella Quartet and even to the 8-Spoked military salute, the support from the fans was amazing. This was the first time the Bruins had honored First Responders and it was nice to see them being appreciated for all that they do, especially when it comes to putting themselves in harms way to save others. Hopefully the Bruins will make this an annual event.
For postgame interviews: