Bruins 3, Blue Jackets 2 (OT): Strong effort wasted

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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BOSTON — As the final horn sounded last night and Boston Bruins fans leapt from their seats to celebrate, Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson shattered his stick against the glass and threw the rest of it to the ice in disgust.

The Blue Jackets played their best game in two weeks. They outplayed the defending Eastern Conference champions for long stretches, especially in the third period. But all that matters is the scoreboard and the standings, and the Blue Jackets continue to lose and sink.

Boston’s Milan Lucic blocked Atkinson’s shot in the final minute of overtime, then chased it down 100 feet and split Sergei Bobrovsky’s pads to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden.

“We have to stay positive in here,” Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno said. “Frustration is a useless emotion. We have to stay positive and understand that we’re going to get this worked out.

“(The Bruins) demand a hard game. They’re going to dominate you if you don’t step up, man up and play a hard game. Our guys stepped up physically. We took it to them and spent a lot of the game in their end. It was just that bounce at the end.”

Blake Comeau and Foligno scored for the Blue Jackets, and Bobrovsky had 28 saves.

Loui Eriksson and Shawn Thornton also scored for the Bruins, and goaltender Chad Johnson had 32 saves.

The Jackets are 1-5-2 since Oct. 27, falling into last place in the Metropolitan Division.

“What you saw in the third … that’s the way we can play,” coach Todd Richards said. “We have to find a 60-minute game. We didn’t get the end results, but — based just on the third period — we carried the play.”

Which was a bit surprising because the Bruins have been nothing short of smothering in the third period this season, outscoring opponents 20-9 before last night.

The Blue Jackets, though, outshot them 12-7 and spent the majority of the period in the Bruins’ zone, cycling and crashing and banging and hoping for scoring chances to emerge.

Right wing Marian Gaborik had his most noticeable game in weeks. He went scoreless for an eighth straight game but was far more competitive along the boards.

Richards moved Foligno up from the fourth line to the second line in the second period, taking R.J. Umberger’s spot. The coach later moved rookie center Michael Chaput up in Artem Anisimov’s spot, putting Foligno and Chaput on a line with Gaborik.

The Blue Jackets’ top line — center Ryan Johansen flanked by Brandon Dubinsky and Atkinson — was good, generating 11 shots, including six by Johansen.

It seemed that both teams were bracing for a shootout as overtime bled into its final minute. But Atkinson took a shot from above the left circle and pounded it into Lucic’s shin guards, with the puck rocketing behind Atkinson.

By the time Atkinson turned to join the play, Lucic was well past him. Lucic gathered the puck atop the right circle on the far end and beat Bobrovsky.

The Blue Jackets dropped to 6-10-2, eerily reminiscent of a 5-12-2 start to last season.

“We’re not ashamed of this game,” Johansen said. “But it’s still so frustrating because we were that close to two points.”

aportzline@dispatch.com

@Aportzline

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