BOSTON — Torey Krug extended a frustrating goalless streak to 21 straight games on Saturday night, failing to connect on any of his eight official shots on goal.
But the Boston defenseman still scored the “goal” that won a hockey game.
“It was nice to see one go in,” Krug said after his shootout goal ended the Bruins’ 3-2 victory over the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. “See where it takes me from here.”
Krug, whose ticket to the NHL was punched primarily because of his offensive ability, hasn’t scored an in-game goal since Dec. 5. But with his team ahead 1-0 in the shootout thanks to a Ryan Spooner goal, he beat rookie goalie Joonas Korpisalo to end the game.
Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson saved both shootout shots to finish off a near-flawless game.
“Gus won the game for us tonight — he played a hell of a game,” said Krug, who also said the backup goalie “bailed me out” in what he called a shaky defensive effort.
The Bruins blew a 2-0 second-period lead but survived for their fourth win in the last five games — but only their third in the last eight home games.
“We’ll play these types of games down the stretch,” Krug said. “We expect more from ourselves, especially at home.”
Gustavsson, who made 31 stops during the game, improved to 9-3-1 this season and to 10-9 in career shootouts.
Korpisalo, playing in only his 10th NHL game, played well (32 saves) but fell to 3-6-1 for the Blue Jackets, the last-place team in the NHL that played without coach John Tortorella, injured during a Friday practice.
“Boston’s a real good team,” said Columbus acting coach Craig Hartsburg. “I thought we competed hard and worked hard for sixty minutes, and we had no passengers tonight.”
Both teams — and both goalies — survived the other’s 4-on-3 power play in the overtime.
“He was great,” center Patrice Bergeron said of Gustavsson. “He made some huge saves, especially on that penalty kill there, and they had some good looks and he came up big for us.”
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was called for slashing when he whacked center Alexander Wennenberg’s stick in the closing seconds of regulation. Gustavsson made a couple of nifty saves.
“The puck stayed out. That’s what matters,” said Gustavsson. “I managed to get the puck to bounce on me a couple of times.”
“We had some chances,” said Hartsburg. “We had some pucks in front of the net. We just couldn’t get a handle on it at times. But again, I thought our guys did a good job, and then we killed one off in overtime as well. They competed hard all night.”
Soon after the Bruins killed the penalty (their 24th straight kill), a Boston rush saw the Jackets guilty of too many men on a sloppy line change.
The Bruins (25-17-5 but just 11-12-2 at home) kept the pressure on during their power play but missed several shots and had others stopped by Korpisalo, who stopped Krug three times. He then made two more stops right after the penalty ended. The Blue Jackets then had a chance to win it in the closing seconds, but right winger Cam Atkinson missed the net on a 3-on-1 break.
Left winger Brad Marchand (19th goal) and right winger David Pastrnak gave the Bruins their 2-0 lead with goals early in the second period, but the Jackets (17-27-5) answered quickly when defenseman Dalton Prout scored his first goal in 108 games and left winger Kerby Rychel scored his second goal in 18 games this season.
Spooner, a center playing right wing with Bergeron and Marchand with Brett Connolly benched, set up the Marchand goal and has 13 points in the last 12 games after collecting 22 in the first 35.
Marchand has scored a goal in four straight and has a five-game points streak.