Four different goal scorers for each team kept things close Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, while David Pastrnak scored the only goal in the, 5-4, shootout win for the Boston Bruins against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Jeremy Swayman (15-7-3, 2.03 goals-against average, .927 save percentage in 26 games played) made 20 saves on 24 shots against in the win for Boston, while spoiling the night’s festivities after the Blue Jackets held a jersey retirement ceremony for Rick Nash prior to the game.
Columbus goaltender, Elvis Merzlikins (19-14-3, 3.42 goals-against average, .903 save percentage in 36 games played), stopped 28 out of 32 shots faced in the shootout loss.
The Bruins improved to 34-18-4 (72 points) on the season, while remaining in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Blue Jackets fell to 28-25-2 (58 points) overall and remained 5th in the Metropolitan Division.
Saturday night marked the first time the two teams met in the regular season since Jan. 14, 2020, before the pandemic shortened the 2019-20 regular season and led to temporary divisional realignment for a condensed 56-game regular season schedule in 2020-21.
Columbus won, 3-0, at Nationwide Arena in their last game against Boston prior to Saturday’s, 5-4, shootout loss.
Curtis Lazar returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with an upper body injury.
As a result, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup from Thursday night’s, 5-2, victory in Las Vegas to Saturday night’s action in Columbus.
Lazar returned to his usual role on the fourth line right wing, while Jesper Frödén joined Anton Blidh and Jack Achan in the press box as Boston’s trio of healthy scratches against the Blue Jackets.
Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) remained out due to injury, though Vaakanainen has resumed skating back in Boston.
Prior to the game Saturday night, the Blue Jackets retired Nash’s No. 61– marking the first time in franchise history that the club retired a players’ jersey number.
Nash was drafted by Columbus with the 1st overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and spent the first nine seasons of his career in a Blue Jackets uniform before he was traded to the New York Rangers on July 23, 2012.
He left Columbus as the franchise leader in games played (674), goals (289), assists (258) and points (547).
After parts of six seasons in New York, he was traded to Boston ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, where he finished the season and playoffs despite missing some time that March with what ultimately became a career-ending concussion and ensuing post-concussion symptoms since then.
In 1,060 career NHL games with the Blue Jackets, Rangers and Bruins, Nash amassed 437-368–805 totals, appeared in 89 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (18-28–46 career playoff totals)– including the 2014 Stanley Cup Final– and shared Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winning honors with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk in the 2003-04 season as the league’s leader in goals scored with 41.
He formally announced his retirement on Jan. 11, 2019, and was named Director of Player Development for the Blue Jackets in June 2021.
A franchise record 19,434 fans were in attendance for Nash’s Jersey Retirement Night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus as announced by the team on Saturday.
Midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand spun and threw the puck to the slot where Jake DeBrusk (15) deflected the rubber biscuit past Merzlikins to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 10:39 of the first period.
Marchand (32) and Charlie McAvoy (28) tallied the assists as the Bruins recorded the first goal of the game.
The B’s didn’t hold the lead for too long, however, as the Blue Jackets roared back with a goal of their own– tying the game, 1-1, at 16:57, courtesy of Gustav Nyquist’s (14), cool, calm and collected reception of a drop pass from Boone Jenner and shot over Swayman’s left shoulder while Boston’s defenders were split like the Red Sea.
Jenner (21) and Patrik Laine (19) notched the assists on Nyquist’s goal as Columbus surged in momentum.
A couple minutes later, Vladislav Gavrikov (3) was in the right place in the right time to bury a loose puck as Swayman couldn’t get a paddle on it in desperation– giving the Blue Jackets their first lead of the night, 2-1, in the process at 19:00 of the first period.
Gavrikov’s goal was unassisted as Columbus recorded a pair of goals in a span of 2:03.
Entering the first intermission, the Blue Jackets carried a, 2-1, lead into the dressing room, despite being outshot by the Bruins, 12-6, in the first period.
Columbus held the advantage in faceoff win percentage, 64-36, while neither team had seen any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.
Marchand took a hit in the neutral zone while Erik Haula (8) scooped up the puck and rushed into the attacking zone before wiring shot through Merzlikins’ five-hole– tying the game, 2-2, in the process at 1:51 of the second period.
Marchand (33) had the only assist on Haula’s goal in the process.
Less than a couple minutes later, Dean Kukan cut a rut to the penalty box for holding and presented Boston with the first power play of the night at 3:26 of the second period.
The Bruins’ power play went by the wayside, however, as the Blue Jackets made the kill and went on their first power play shortly thereafter as Craig Smith tripped up former Bruin, Sean Kuraly, at 5:33.
Columbus didn’t convert on their first skater advantage, but the Blue Jackets got another crack at special teams play when Charlie Coyle slashed Oliver Bjorkstrand at 13:13 of the second period.
About a minute later, Zach Werenski (9) pinched in from the point at the top of the faceoff circle and sent a shot inadvertently off of Bruins defender, Charlie McAvoy’s knee and over Swayman’s glove side to give Columbus a, 3-2, lead at 14:28.
Jakub Voracek (39) and Bjorkstrand (20) had the assists on Werenski’s power-play goal and the Blue Jackets took a, 3-2, lead at 14:28 of the second period.
Through 40 minutes of action, Columbus led, 3-2, on the scoreboard despite trailing in shots on goal, 19-14. The Blue Jackets, however, held the advantage in shots on net in the middle frame alone, 8-7, and controlled faceoff win% (58-42).
Boston was 0/1 on the power play, while Columbus was 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
Smith (10) buried a one-timer off of Merzlikins’ blocker and into the twine while crashing the net– tying the game, 3-3, at 4:40 of the third period in the process.
Connor Clifton (2) and Nick Foligno (8) tallied the assists as the latter sent a pass to the former prior to Clifton setting up Smith for the goal– marking four goals in his last two games and nine points (four goals, five assists) in Smith’s last 10 games.
Late in the period, Bjorkstrand caught Pastrnak with a high stick at 14:23 of the third period, yielding another power play to Boston in the process.
It didn’t take the Bruins long to go ahead, 4-3, on the scoreboard as Patrice Bergeron (16) nudged a goal on the forehand as the puck sat in the crease after ringing the iron twice and Taylor Hall flubbed an attempt while Merzlikins was sprawled out in desperation.
Hall (29) and Pastrnak (26) had the assists on Bergeron’s power-play goal at 14:58 of the third period.
With 1:18 remaining in the action, Brad Larsen pulled his netminder for an extra attacker.
Foligno hooked Nyuquist at 19:29 and yielded another power play to the Blue Jackets as a result.
Larsen used the extra few seconds before the ensuing faceoff on the skater advantage to rally his skaters with 30.7 seconds remaining in the action.
Columbus worked the puck around the attacking zone before Voracek (3) winded up on a half speed slap shot and scored under the blocker– clipping Swayman’s jersey in the process and tying the game, 4-4, with 2.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
Laine (20) and Kuraly (13) had the assists on Voracek’s power-play goal at 19:57 as the Blue Jackets forced overtime despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 31-23, including a, 12-9, advantage for the Bruins in the third period alone.
As there were no penalties called in overtime, Columbus finished the night 2/3 on the power play while Boston went 0/2 on the skater advantage.
Neither team scored in overtime as both squads recorded one shot on goal each in the extra frame.
The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 32-24, as well as in blocked shots (16-12), while the Blue Jackets wrapped up 65 minutes of action leading in hits (28-20) and faceoff win% (51-49).
Both teams had two giveaways aside.
Boston shot first in the shootout as Coyle waltzed into the zone from the right side before cutting right at Merzlikins and being denied by a left pad save.
Laine countered for Columbus with a medium speed effort and a pump fake before pulling the puck to his backhand, but Swayman made the save.
DeBrusk entered with speed before trying an offspeed shot that Merzlikins cast aside with his blocker.
Larsen sent out Nyquist to try to get things going as his second shooter, but despite cutting in from wide left to the middle of the ice, Swayman made a routine save on Nyquist’s five-hole shot attempt.
Finally, Pastrnak skated in wide left before cutting to the middle with speed and coming to a stop prior to elevating the puck into the upper-90 on Merzlikins’ glove side– giving Boston a, 1-0, advantage in the third round of the shootout.
Voracek had to score on the following attempt or the Bruins would win the game.
The Blue Jackets forward carried speed towards the net before Swayman made a blocker save to seal the deal on the shootout victory as the B’s were awarded the shootout goal in the final score, 5-4, Saturday night at Nationwide Arena– securing 10 out of 12 possible points in their six-game road trip in the process.
Boston improved to 2-2 in shootouts this season, while Columbus fell to 3-2 in the best-of-three skills competition.
The Bruins also improved to 24-7-1 (14-3-1 on the road) when scoring first, 5-11-2 (1-5-1 on the road) when trailing after one and 4-14-2 (1-6-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.
The Blue Jackets dropped to 14-17-2 (7-6-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 10-4-1 (4-1-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 15-4-2 (7-2-2 at home) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins went 5-1-0 on their six-game road trip through the Pacific Division and Columbus and will return home to begin a three-game homestand on Monday.
Boston will host Los Angeles (March 7th), Chicago (March 10th) and Arizona (March 12th) before hitting the road again on March 15th.