Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was fixated on a potential Game 7 of his team’s Eastern Conference second-round series mere minutes after the conclusion of Game 5.
As for the immediate matter of Game 6, Tortorella’s Blue Jackets will need to stave off elimination on Monday night when they host the Boston Bruins.
“Things happen for a reason. And I truly believe that. We’ll be back here for Game 7,” Tortorella said shortly after David Pastrnak capped a two-goal performance by scoring with 1:28 remaining in the third period of the Bruins’ 4-3 win in Boston on Saturday.
When asked what gives him that confidence, the 60-year-old bench boss said “because we will.”
The Bruins may have something to say about Tortorella’s travel plans, even if the Bruins’ Brad Marchand and Pastrnak offered no response when informed of the coach’s comments.
Pastrnak has done his talking in the last two games of the series, scoring three goals after mustering just one — off his skate — in the first three.
“It’s nice to score goals. (We) had a good game as a line, picked each other up when it’s the most needed,” said the 22-year-old Pastrnak, who joined linemates Marchand (one goal, two assists) and Patrice Bergeron (assist) in totaling six points on Saturday.
Marchand had plenty at his disposal when talking about Pastrnak.
“It’s inevitable. You get those opportunities every game, they’re going to go in. He’s done it all year,” the 30-year-old Marchand said. “He’s been huge for our group. He continues to be. These are the things we’ve come to expect out of him. Show up in the big moments and continue what he does.”
Boston’s top line has accounted for 11 points (six goals, five assists) in the past two contests, erasing its team’s 2-1 series deficit to push Columbus to the brink of elimination.
“They break through the other night and now they’re feeling good about themselves,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of his top line. “They’re dominant when they’re on. And when they’re feeling it, it’s a tall task for the other team.”
Defenseman Seth Jones scored to ignite the Blue Jackets’ three-goal surge in a 3:25 span of the third period, giving him points in six of nine postseason games.
In-season trade acquisition Matt Duchene boosted his point total to 10 (five goals, five assists) after assisting on former Ottawa teammate Ryan Dzingel’s tally.
Artemi Panarin set up defenseman Dean Kukan’s game-tying goal with 6:02 remaining in the third period on Saturday to push his point total to a team-leading 11 (five goals, six assists).
Dzingel and Kukan’s goals gave Columbus 16 players who have scored this postseason.
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno was pleased with his team ratcheting up its play in the third period.
“If anything, I’d just say it’s our mentality, it’s the way we pressed,” the 31-year-old Foligno said. “That has to be the way we play the whole game.”
Columbus has won three of its four postseason games at Nationwide Arena this spring, while Boston is 3-2 on the road in the playoffs.