They were playing for a purpose. They were playing for something. They played better than we did.
That’s some of what Head Coach John Tortorella had to say about the Boston Bruins.
On a night in which the Columbus Blue Jackets had plenty to play for, it was Boston who came into Columbus, Ohio and stole the show in a 6-2 victory.
Although the Columbus Blue Jackets came into Tuesday’s contest winning their last five games at home, one can’t help but wonder if the Jackets simply fold under pressure when the lights shine brightest.
While the Bruins victory clinched second place in the Atlantic Division with a Toronto Maple Leafs loss, it’s still somewhat surprising that they seemed to want it more than Columbus, who’s currently fighting for a playoff spot.
Cam Atkinson, who had an assist and four shots on goal in the loss, had this to say afterwards:
They checked really really well…Checked way better than us, and, that was…pretty much how the outcome of the game went.
Columbus had a bit of an unlucky start, with Jake DeBrusk scoring at the 1:58 mark of regulation, after the puck went off the stick of David Savard, bounced off the top of the net, spun backwards, hit off Sergei Bobrovsky’s back, and went into the back of the net.
Josh Anderson, Cam Atkinson and Ryan Dzingel each had great scoring chances in the first seven minutes of action. However, it was Goaltender Tuukka Rask who stepped up to the occasion, not allowing a goal early on, despite Columbus having the 7-2 edge on the shot chart.
The CBJ home crowd should have felt encouraged after the start, but Columbus started to struggle mightily on offense. From the final 11:28 of the first period through the 8:56 mark of the second period, the Jackets only had one shot on goal. That’s right, one shot in a span of 20:54 in a game with major playoff implications.
A few epic saves from Bobrovsky wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught of scoring chances from Boston, who simply looked more determined to win and forced Torts to make a goaltending change after DeBrusk scored his second goal of the game to put the Bruins up 4-0 at the 16:00 mark of the 2nd period.
Bob, of course, wasn’t pulled for his performance, but due to the team in front of him who were utterly outmatched.
Boston scored the first five goals of the game, stunning the sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena and sending many of the fans home early.
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a power-play goal to make it six consecutive games with a goal and teammate Matt Duchene scored another power-play goal to make it 5-2, but it was far too little too late.
The Bruins were like sharks smelling blood in the water, as Karson Kuhlman quickly responded to score the final goal of the contest to put the road team up 6-2.
Torts didn’t have a whole lot to so say in his postgame presser:
We got what we deserved tonight. They were the better team. They deserved to win.
While it’s evident the players and coaches know Boston outplayed them and simply were the more desperate team, the short and basic answers aren’t satisfying.
Moving on from a loss and admitting you were outplayed doesn’t explain why your team only had one shot on goal in a span of 20:24. It doesn’t explain whether the pressure got to you in the middle of a playoff push. It doesn’t explain why your defense looked out of sorts at several points of the game. It doesn’t explain why Boston had so many odd-man rushes.
It’s great that Torts and some his players talked after the game. While what they had to say for the media and the fans was true, it also lacked in substance.
Anybody who watched that game could tell Boston wanted to win way more than Columbus did.
Maybe Boston’s a dominant team that Columbus ran into on the wrong night and it’s that simple.
With that being said…
Columbus has a history of disappointing their fans when the stakes are the highest. And history, for the most part, tends to repeat itself.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be back at it on Friday night, as they’ll head east to face the New York Rangers.