The uncharacteristically sloppy defense early on certainly wasn't what Claude Julien envisioned. The costly breakdowns in discipline leading to selfish penalties weren't what he was looking for either. He definitely wasn't planning on having to pull Tim Thomas after two periods, and losing captain Zdeno Chara to injury in the second was even more painful to watch.
But through it all, the Bruins found a way to pull out a 5-3 victory and snap their two-game losing streak.
"It wasn't necessarily a pretty win, but we gutted it out," Julien said. "[It was] our fifth game in eight days and we looked a little tired out there, more mentally than physically. But we gutted it out and won the hockey game and I thought that was pretty important. Coming out in the third and finding a way to win that was very important."
Things didn't look good early when the Bruins fell behind 2-0, then faced a four-minute power play for the Blue Jackets when Milan Lucic lost his cool and picked up slashing and cross-checking penalties for going after R.J. Umberger after a collision behind the net.
The Bruins killed off both, and Lucic redeemed himself by setting up three straight goals to give himself 100 career assists and give the Bruins a 3-2 lead. The first two goals came in a 45-second span in the final two minutes of the first, with Joe Corvo and Nathan Horton scoring to pull Boston even before the first intermission. Lucic then set up Chara for a power-play goal 58 seconds into the middle frame.
Columbus tied it again, but Corvo put Boston ahead for good with his second goal of the night at 6:44 of the third. It was also Corvo's second goal as a Bruin, as he came into the game without a goal this season but finally broke through to help Boston end its mini-skid.
"It was super important," Corvo said of getting the win. "You don't want to lose three games in a row. You don't want to lose two games in a row, but we already did that. We were set on coming in here and ending that streak and I thought we just battled the whole time and came through."
While Lucic and Corvo found ways to redeem themselves, Thomas didn't get that chance in the third. It was a tough choice for Julien to pull the reigning Vezina winner, but he felt he needed to make the move after Thomas had allowed three goals on 25 shots, the last coming on a bad-angle bid by Umberger that snuck through Thomas' pads.
"It's just a decision I made," Julien said. "I think Timmy's as consistent a goalie as we've ever had. Very seldom do you even want to consider pulling him, but he didn't look comfortable in net tonight. A couple goals went through him and we just felt that was the decision to make."
The move paid off, as Tuukka Rask came on and shut the door on the Blue Jackets. He stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third, including a couple of sparkling saves to earn the win.
"Tuukka was ready to go and that's great," Julien said. "Again, this is something I rarely do, especially with Timmy, but tonight I just felt it was the right thing to do."
It was a far from perfect path to get there, but the Bruins will take the final result, as they move back into second place in the East with the victory.