Rookie winger Ryan Donato scored a goal and an assist in his NHL debut on Monday night, but it wasn’t enough for the Bruins as they fell 5-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime.
The officials quickly drew controversy in the extra frame. Brad Marchand had an early opportunity in alone on goalie Joonas Korpisalo, but the Blue Jackets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois dragged him down for what looked like at least a holding penalty, or potentially a penalty shot. No call was made on the play.
Cam Atkinson scored his 17th of the season at 2:55 of OT when he buried his own chance off a simple pass on a cycle against Tuukka Rask. Marchand reportedly gave the officials an earful on the way to the locker room after the game was decided.
Korpisalo made 34 saves in the win for the Jackets, keeping Columbus afloat with a series of big saves in the first period and holding off the Bruins after they tied the game late in regulation.
The Jackets struck first just 4:15 into the game, as Thomas Vanek took advantage of a Brandon Carlo turnover and fed the loose puck to Boone Jenner for the one-timer.
But later, the rookie newcomer gave the Bruins the equalizer. Donato scored his first career NHL goal as he led a 2-on-2 rush and waited to pass back to the trailer, Torey Krug, who fired it back to him for the rocket past Korpisalo.
Brad Marchand soon put the B’s on top 2-1 when he scored his 31st goal of the season. Continuing to show off his ridiculous backhand shot, he flicked the puck into an almost impossibly tight window.
Donato nabbed his first career NHL assist on the next goal, a Riley Nash power play tally to put the Bruins up 3-1. The rookie set up shop in front of the net and batted the puck out of mid-air to create a rebound opportunity for Nash, who fired it home to give the B’s a two-goal lead.
But that lead was short-lived, as the Blue Jackets’ Sonny Milano answered just 25 seconds later. No one on the Bruins picked up Milano as he wandered down by the goal, where defenseman Ryan Murray found him with a slap-pass for the easy tip-in to make it 3-2.
Vanek tied the game 3-3 in the third period when he made a tough deflection look easy off a point shot from Markus Nutivaara.
Though the Garden was still buzzing with the game tied, Artemi Panarin sucked a lot of life out of the building when he put the Blue Jackets up 4-3 with a stunning right-off-the-faceoff one-timer.
But the building, and the Bruins, refused to die. Capping a thrilling finish to regulation, Donato found Krejci in front with a backhand feed and Krejci buried it to tie the game 4-4.
Tough ending to the night for the Bruins (45-17-9), but they controlled much of the action on the night against the Blue Jackets. They still need to clean up their defense a bit in their own end (Carlo continues to struggle), but it’s hard to knock them too badly in light of their outrageous amount of injuries. Overall, they continue to play reasonably well amid challenging circumstances.
The most important thing about this game was the impressive debut of Ryan Donato. The rookie absolutely aced the vaunted “eye test” and lit up the score sheet in the process. His shot and offensive instincts will help the Bruins right away, and his net-front presence was something you could feel all night.
Monday didn’t end the way anyone wanted in Boston, but right now it’s just a matter of getting healthy before the playoffs. And the silver lining is that Donato is giving fans an early preview of (hopefully) great things to come.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.