Faced with a season-long four-game losing streak and a road game in a barn where the Bruins haven't won since before the owners' lockout, Claude Julien felt he had to make some changes.
The Boston coach went with his gut and opted to start Tuukka Rask over Tim Thomas in goal. Julien also inserted rookie Tyler Seguin back into the lineup, making Michael Ryder a healthy scratch for the first time as a Bruin.
For one night at least, Julien pulled exactly all the right strings. Rask was masterful, almost singlehandedly keeping the Bruins in the game early and coming up with a string of huge saves late to get the Bruins through 65 minutes of action even with Columbus.
That brought the game to Seguin's specialty, and the youngster made up for a quiet night (no points, no shots in 9:57) by delivering the only goal in the shootout to lift Boston to a 3-2 win.
"It's a great win," Rask said. "It's a great battle, 65 minutes plus the shootout. We haven't won the overtime games or the shootout games too many times this year, so it's a big win for us."
Rask did his part in the shootout as well, showing plenty of patience as he out-waited Rick Nash, Fedor Tyutin and Scottie Upshall to deny all three Columbus shooters.
"You've probably seen me in practice take a couple more shootouts than usual and try to work on those things," Rask said. "I think that's the biggest thing, is just to stay patient and on those moves I did that and it worked today."
Rask is now 5-1-0 with a 2.17 GAA and a .929 save percentage in his last six starts, all coming on the road over the last month. That stretch has doubled his win total for the season, as he has finally reached double figures at 10-12-1.
Rask had to work for this one though. He finished with 34 saves in addition to the three shootout stops. Eleven of those saves came during Columbus' six power plays, all of which the Bruins killed off.
"Our penalty killers did a pretty good job, but our goaltender did an outstanding job," Julien said. "He made some unbelievable saves. I think without a doubt he deserves a lot of credit. It was one of those games where we seemed to take a lot of penalties and we just couldn't seem to get a power play, so it was nice to gut it out and find a way to win but our goaltender was outstanding for us tonight."
Boston, meanwhile, had just one power play that last all of five seconds. But the Bruins did manage a special-teams score, with Rich Peverley scoring a shorthanded goal to tie the game with just 5:36 left in the third.
"It was nice to see, coming back in the third from a 2-1 deficit and getting the win," Rask said. "It's huge for our confidence. We just have to build from this."
Rask wasn't a one-man show either. In addition to Seguin and Peverley, the Bruins also got some needed offense from David Krejci as the top-line center stayed red hot with a deflection of a Zdeno Chara shot for Boston's first goal. More importantly, Chara and fellow defenseman Tomas Kaberle also lent a hand to Rask down by the Bruins' net.
More accurately, Chara and Kaberle lent a skate and stick, respectively. Chara blocked a Nash blast from the right side with 4:08 left in the third and Krejci in the box for cross-checking. Kaberle then made an even more spectacular save behind Rask, swatting the puck off the goal line with 1:02 left in overtime.
"I can't believe he made that save," Rask said. "He's pretty good with that stick. He knocks those pucks down at the blue line too. I had no chance at catching that puck, but he batted it right to me. It was a nice couple of plays by the d actually. Zee made a nice skate save and [Kaberle] made that stick save. So it's nice to see that."