BOSTON — After winning an ugly game at home, the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
“I think it's a step in the right direction in winning a game a different way,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said after his team blew an early 2-0 lead but got an overtime goal by 19-year-old defenseman Zach Werenski and completed a sweep of the two-game series with the Anaheim Ducks with a 3-2 home victory Wednesday night.
“A disjointed game,” Tortorella said. “Were we really good? No. But I think it's a big step in the right direction in winning those games early, that's where you get your points in the National Hockey League as you see where you are come April and March.
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“It was just an ugly game. I remember those games last year; we'd lose those games and maybe lose them by two or three. I'm happier about a game like this than when you win a game that's clean.”
Added Nick Foligno: “We gutted one out. We found an ugly one. I'm not taking anything away from a win here, but we've gotta play a better game tomorrow, we're going into Boston.”
The Blue Jackets have just started playing without defenseman Seth Jones, out with a broken foot. Brandon Dubinsky was out Wednesday, others returned — and Brandon Saad went from a possible healthy scratch to scoring a goal and an assist.
This team is playing well, with points in eight of the last nine games to raise the season record to 6-3-2.They have won four in a row at home after the Bruins opened the season by wiping out 2-0 and 3-1 Columbus leads and winning 6-3 on opening night.
The Bruins suffered a tough loss in Montreal, falling to 7-6-0. They beat the Buffalo Sabres in Boston Monday for their second win in five home games, and find themselves in a stretch of five games in seven night.
Boston outshot Montreal 43-23 only to lose on a late goal, dropping their second straight game against the Rival Canadiens.
“I thought we deserved obviously much more than what we got tonight,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “It was disappointing in a way, but encouraging in another that we played so well on a back-to-back game in this kind of situation. I think if we keep this right kind of attitude and focus then we'll win more than we'll lose.”
With Tuesday the back end of a back-to-back, rookie Zane McIntyre was in goal for the Bruins in Montreal. Tuukka Rask, who shook off a shaky outing against the New York Rangers last Saturday, shut out Buffalo and is 7-1 on the season. He is an impressive 6-2 with a 1.99 goals against average and .932 save percentage against the Blue Jackets, winning that Game 1 start — and is the likely starter Thursday.
Sergei Bobrovsky was in goal for the Jackets Wednesday, improving to 6-3-1 with a 1.81 goals against average on the season. Curtis McElhinney has played only once, losing a game in overtime.
There was no official word regarding the Columbus goalie Thursday but two things point at McElhinney. One, it is the back end of a back-to-back. And two, McElhinney is 2-2-0 with a 2.27 goals against and .930 save percentage against Boston. Bobrovsky is just 0-3-2 with a 2.84/.916.
With Patrice Bergeron out injured in the opener, David Backes, playing his first game as a Bruin, centered Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The line totaled 12 points with each player scoring twice.