Three players scored their 4th goal of the season as the Columbus Blue Jackets shutout the Boston Bruins, 3-0, Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.
Elvis Merzlikins (6-6-4 record, 2.53 goals against average, .921 save percentage in 18 games played) made 34 saves on 34 shots against for his 2nd consecutive shutout– becoming the first rookie Blue Jackets goaltender since Steve Mason to record back-to-back shutouts in consecutive appearances (Dec. 27-31, 2008).
Meanwhile, Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (17-4-6, 2.27 GAA, .925 SV% in 28 games played) was injured 1:12 into the action after Emil Bemstrom delivered an elbow to Rask’s head.
Rask sustained a concussion on the play and was replaced by Jaroslav Halak (10-5-6, 2.49 GAA, .925 SV% in 27 games played), who made 24 saves on 27 shots faced for an .889 SV% in the loss.
Boston fell to 27-9-12 (66 points) on the season, but remained in 1st place in the Atlantic Division, while Columbus improved to 23-16-8 (54 points) on the season and remained steady in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Bruins also fell to 12-7-3 on the road this season.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Tuesday night as Boston visited Columbus for the first time since defeating the Blue Jackets in Game 6 of their 2019 Second Round matchup.
Bruce Cassidy made no changes to his forwards, but replaced Matt Grzelcyk with Steven Kampfer on the blue line alongside John Moore on the third defensive pairing.
Par Lindholm and David Backes joined Grzelcyk as healthy scratches for the B’s in Columbus, while David Krejci tied Terry O’Reilly for the 7th most games played as a Bruin in franchise history (891 games).
Rask was replaced by Halak at 1:12 of the first period after Bemstrom struck the Bruins goaltender with an errant elbow.
Moments later, Pierre-Luc Dubois was sent to the penalty box with a cross checking infraction, yielding the first power play of the night to Boston at 5:53.
The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Almost midway through the opening frame, David Savard thought he scored a goal when he crashed the net and bumped into Halak, but the play was blown dead and there was no goal as a result due to goaltender interference that occurred.
Some harm, no foul– in a way. No goal, but no minor penalty either.
Past the midpoint of the first period, Alexander Wennberg (4) let go of a weak shot that slipped through Halak’s five-hole and reached the back of the twine– giving the Blue Jackets a, 1-0, lead.
Wennberg’s soft goal was assisted by Vladislav Gavrikov (5) and Nathan Gerbe (4) at 13:27.
Late in the period, Charlie McAvoy was guilty of holing against Gustav Nyquist and Columbus received their first power play opportunity at 18:59.
The Blue Jackets did not score on the resulting advantage, despite the fact that the power play overlapped into the second period.
After one period in Columbus, the Blue Jackets led the Bruins, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-7, in shots on goal.
The B’s led in takeaways (2-1), hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the Blue Jackets had the advantage in blocked shots (5-4).
Both teams had two giveaways aside and were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Boston announced that Rask would not return to the game in a tweet after the puck dropped on the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, Gavrikov held Anders Bjork and was sent to the sin bin with a minor infraction at 9:36 of the second period.
Boston’s power play was powerless as Columbus killed off Gavrikov’s minor with ease.
A few minutes later, Joakim Nordstrom tried to engage Bemstrom in response for his elbow to Rask’s head that knocked Boston’s starting goaltender out of action, but Dubois stepped in between the two skaters and both Nordstorm and Dubois ended up receiving roughing minors at 12:35.
After two minutes of 4-on-4 action, the two teams resumed full strength play for the remainder of the period.
Through 40 minutes at Nationwide Arena, Columbus still held onto their, 1-0, lead over Boston and a, 22-21, advantage in shots on goal– despite the Bruins leading in second period shots alone, 14-13.
The Blue Jackets led in blocked shots (14-6), takeaways (7-1) and giveaways (7-3), while the B’s led in hits (19-14) and faceoff win% (56-44).
Columbus was 0/1 and Boston was 0/2 on the power play heading into the second intermission.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Sonny Milano slashed Charlie Coyle at 1:34 of the third period and presented the Bruins with another power play that did not yield a goal on the advantage.
A few minutes later, Brad Marchand caught Gavrikov with a high stick at 4:41 and presented Columbus with a skater advantage.
About a minute into the ensuing power play, Kevin Stenlund (4) blasted a one-timer over Halak’s blocker side and gave the Blue Jackets a two-goal lead with a power play goal.
Nick Foligno (14) and Bemstrom (7) notched the assists on Stenlund’s goal at 5:46 of the third period and Columbus led, 2-0.
Three seconds after resuming play, Eric Robinson interfered with Bjork off the ensuing faceoff and was sent to the penalty box at 5:49.
Midway through the third period, Riley Nash (4) capitalized on an individual effort and gave the Blue Jackets a, 3-0, lead on an unassisted goal over Halak’s blocker side at 13:05.
At the final horn, Columbus had won, 3-0, despite trailing in shots on goal, 34-27.
Though Boston had held the advantage in third periods shots on net alone, 13-5, the Bruins failed to find the back of the net on any of their shots.
The Blue Jackets finished Tuesday night with the advantage in blocked shots (19-8) and giveaways (10-7), while the B’s left Nationwide Arena with the advantage in hits (28-17) and faceoff win% (55-45).
The Blue Jackets went 1/2 on the power play on the night and the Bruins finished 0/4.
Columbus handed Boston their first shutout of the season as the Bruins fell to 1-4-3 when trailing after one period and 4-7-4 when trailing after two periods this season.
Boston finished their three-game road trip (1-1-1) and returns home for a home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday at TD Garden and Sunday in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena.
After the Bruins swing through Pittsburgh, the B’s finish their game action before the All-Star break with a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 21st.