The Boston Bruins didn’t expect things to be easy against the Columbus Blue Jackets — and they were right.
After these teams needed three overtimes to earn a split of the first two games in Boston, this Eastern Conference semifinal series shifts to Columbus, Ohio, for Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Boston won Game 1 against Columbus, 3-2 in overtime, after rallying from a goal down in the third period to force the extra session. Despite scoring first once again, the Bruins lost by the same score in double-overtime in Game 2.
“It’s playoff hockey,” Boston defenseman Torey Krug told the Bruins’ official website. “That’s what makes it fun. You don’t have to worry about anything that’s happened in the past. You move forward and play the game that is in front of you.”
Since the Blue Jackets pulled off a stunning first-round sweep of Presidents’ Trophy winners Tampa Bay, the Bruins, whose 107 regular-season points tied for second-most in the NHL, knew they would be in for another battle after needing seven games to dispatch of Toronto in Round 1. The task only gets tougher at Columbus, where the Blue Jackets outscored the Lightning 10-4 in the two games played there.
“Obviously, going into Columbus is going to be a challenge, but we’re going to be ready for the opportunity,” Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton said.
After winning Game 2, the Blue Jackets are eager to be back on home ice and feel their best is yet to come in this series.
“I think (Game 2) was better than (Game 1), and our next game has to be better than this one,” forward Nick Foligno told the Blue Jackets’ official website.
“Each series, our game has to get better from each one to the next.”
Having the home crowd in their favor could play a big part in the Blue Jackets achieving that goal. Knowing Sergei Bobrovsky is in net also helps. Bobrovsky has a 2.01 goals-against average in the playoffs and has stopped 63 of the 68 shots he’s faced versus Boston.
“Anything is possible with him in net. He’s something else,” said teammate Matt Duchene, who scored the Game 2 winner and has four goals with four assists in the postseason, of Bobrovsky.
Duchene scored that winning goal on the power play, which Columbus is 7 of 18 (38.9 percent) on during the playoffs. Boston, meanwhile, went 1 for 8 with the man-advantage in the first two contests.
The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, who matched his playoff season high with 38 saves in Game 2, has a 2.24 goals-against average during the 2019 postseason.
Boston star Brad Marchand has a team-high nine points in the playoffs, but none in the past three games. Teammate Patrice Bergeron also has gone without a point in the first two games against Columbus, while David Pastrnak has one in this series.
Part of the reason for Boston’s stars being kept quiet early on could be the play of Columbus’ star defenseman Seth Jones. He’s plus-3 in the playoffs and has two assists in each of the first two games versus Boston. Jones has a goal with six assists in the Blue Jackets’ four most recent postseason contests.