BOSTON (AP)Erik Haula scored his second goal of the game with just under 4 minutes left to break a tie and the Boston Bruins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Saturday night in the first of a home-and-home between the teams.
Brad Marchand scored his 31st of the season, and Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle each added an empty-netter for Boston. Jeremy Swayman made 22 saves for the Bruins, who have won six of their past seven games and improved 16-3-1 in the last 20.
Gustav Nyquist and Justin Danforth had goals for Columbus, and Elvis Merzlikins stopped 37 shots. The Blue Jackets are winless in their last six (0-4-2).
With Andrew Peek in the box for hooking, defenseman Brandon Carlo took a shot from the right circle that Haula redirected into the net out of the air from the edge of the crease with 3:54 remaining to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
The Bruins held the Blue Jackets to just four shots on goal in final period, allowing the first on a clearing pass with about 51/2 minutes to play. Boston owned a 42-24 edge for the game.
”We dug in deep for the third and got the job done,” Haula said. ”We talked in between the second and third that it’s going to come.”
Associate coach Pascal Vincent ran the Blue Jackets with head coach Brad Larsen sidelined in COVID-19 protocols for the third consecutive game.
”They outplayed us for the majority of the game,” Danforth said. ”We battled hard to stay in the game, but that’s a detailed team and they’re ready for the playoffs.”
The Blue Jackets had taken a 2-1 edge 42 seconds into the second when Danforth scored after Swayman misplayed a shot into a bad rebound, but Marchand tied it in the final two minutes of the period after a perfect fed from Patrice Bergeron.
Haula gave Boston the lead 15:09 into the game when he scored off a rebound after Merzlikins made a sprawling save on Charlie McAvoy’s shot.
Boston coach Bruce Cassidy made him the second line center a while ago between stars David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall, and its been a good fit.
”He’s responded pretty well from the moment when he was put there,” Cassidy said.
Columbus tied it with 28 seconds left in the first when Swayman dropped a catch and the puck fell into the crease, where Nyquist hustled in and knocked it into the net.
The Bruins and Blue Jackets honored Boston forward Nick Foligno, who played his 1,000th career game last month. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen presented him with picture of photos from his career and a $10,000 check for his foundation. Boston GM Don Seeeney gave him a silver stick, given to players for that milestone, and Bruins president Cam Neely gave him a custom painting after teammates Marchand and captain Bergeron delivered a watch and engraved bottle of wine from Boston’s players.
Foligno played nine seasons with the Blue Jackets before signing as a free agent with the Bruins during the summer.
”I wanted to make sure I remember this moment,” he said. ”Not a lot of guys get to do it. I feel very fortunate and blessed to be around a lot of people that helped me get here.”
Nick and his father, Mike, are only the second father/son combo to reach that milestone in NHL history. The other is Bobby and Brett Hull.
NOTES: Former Bruin Sean Kuraly, who signed as a free agent with his hometown Blue Jackets during the summer, played his first game back in Boston. … Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree, 86, the NHL’s first black player when he played with the Bruins in 1958, watched the game from a luxury box and got a big ovation when he was shown on the Jumbotron. … Boston forwards Craig Smith (illness) and Foligno (undisclosed lower-body injury) returned to lineup after missing the last game along with defenseman Derek Forbort, who was a healthy scratch the previous game. … Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski missed his third straight with an upper-body injury. … McAvoy played his 300th career game.
The teams meet in Columbus on Monday night.
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