The Boston Bruins ended their mini two-game losing streak but may have lost something even worse as Captain Zdeno Chara went down with an injury in their 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Thanks to a pair of goals from defenseman Joe Corvo, three assists from Milan Lucic and an excellent relief appearance from Tuukka Rask, the B’s walked away with the season-series sweep against the Jackets.
The game was perhaps the wackiest and most uneven of this young season. The Bruins and starter Tim Thomas spotted the Jackets an early two-goal lead thanks to a breakaway goal from Rick Nash and a powerplay rebound score from Jeff Carter on a Milan Lucic minor penalty.
Lucic took two simultaneous and ill-advised minor penalties less than three minutes later and forced his teammates to kill off 4:00 of a man-disadvantage. The B’s and Thomas managed to kill the time off and Lucic thanked them by grabbing the primary assist on two goals for the Bruins in the period’s final two minutes. The first was Joe Corvo’s first in a Bruins uniform, a blast from the point to narrow the gap to one. The second was a rip by Nathan Horton from the slot to even the score before the teams went to the break.
The second frame saw the Bruins use their momentum to jump out to a lead. After the Jackets’ Derick Brassard went to the box for hooking, Lucic grabbed his third assist in under three minutes, feeding Zdeno Chara for a big blast from the point to give the Bruins the 3-2 advantage.
Late in the second, B’s fans felt trepidation as Zdeno Chara left the game after an awkward collision with Columbus’ Antoine Vermette. It was believed to be a lower-body (knee) injury but there was no word exactly how severe it was. The incident cast a foreboding cloud over the rest of the match.
Unfortunately for the B’s, this was not Tim Thomas’ night. With less than four minutes to go in the stanza, he let a R.J. Umberger shot find his five-hole off the rush to knot the game at three goals apiece. After the second intermission, Thomas was pulled for the first time this season and replaced with backup Tuukka Rask.
Rask was excellent in the third, stopping all eleven shots he faced and coolly (almost nonchalantly) denying the Jackets at every opportunity. He gave the B’s a chance to win (much like in Tuesday night’s loss to the Jets) – and this time they took advantage.
A little over a third of the way through the final period, Joe Corvo found the back of the net from the point for his second of the game and season on the powerplay to give the Bruins a 4-3 advantage. Thanks to Rask’s play, this score held until a final powerplay late in the game saw Patrice Bergeron find Chris Kelly open in front of the net for a relatively easy goal, Kelly’s eleventh on the season, which wrapped up the 5-3 victory.
While B’s fans will nervously anticipate any news of their big captain’s health, the Bruins have two days to prepare for back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Black and Gold will host the Los Angeles Kings in the first of two matchups against them this season. Wednesday, the B’s head to Ottawa to take on the somewhat surprising division-rival Senators for the second time this year.
Three Stars of the Game:
3.) Milan Lucic
2.) Tuukka Rask
1.) Joe Corvo
Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @BobMandBTR