Matt Duchene scored the game-winning goal while on the power play at 3:42 of the second overtime to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins early Sunday morning, tying the second-round playoff series at a game apiece.
After winning Game 1 in overtime Thursday night, the Bruins came out in Game 2 attempting to ramp up their physicality and land an early knockout punch. Then Josh Anderson was called for interference at 6:29 of the first period, and when Matt Grzelcyk beat Sergei Bobrovsky on the ensuing power play, on a shot Bob would love to have back, it looked like it might be “one of those nights.”
But, this more experienced and confident version of the Blue Jackets would respond in the second period. “I think we just got our game going,” said Blue Jackets’ Captain Nick Foligno. “I liked our game tonight. I thought we competed and we battled against a team that just plays the right way all the time. I thought we just stuck with it, stayed patient, and we knew this was going to be a series.”
A hard-hitting first period that saw both teams turning the puck over and
struggling to find any true rhythm ended with the Bruins holding onto a 1-0 advantage courtesy of Grzelcyk’s PP goal assisted by Charlie MvAvoy and David Krejci.
The Blue Jackets would start the second period on a power play thanks to Brad Marchand’s cross check to the back and rib area of Blue Jackets rookie Alexandre Texier after time had expired in the first period.
The Jackets would make Marchand and the Bruins pay. After Zdneo Chara failed to clear the zone, Artemi Panarin took a pass from Seth Jones and beat Tuukka Rask with a one-timer from the top of the left circle at 1:03 of the second period. Cam Atkinson registered the secondary assist.
As many Blue Jackets fans exhaled in relief of the club tying the game, the Bruins went right back to work and re-took the lead just 58 seconds later. Bruins forward Charlie Coyle carried a pass from Marcus Johansson behind the Blue Jackets’ net and backhanded a pass into the crease that hit the right skate of David Pastrnak and bounced past Bobrovsky. This would ultimately prove to be the Bruins last tally of the game, as Bob and the boys would hold Boston scoreless for the remaining 61:41.
The Bruins kept their 2-1 lead until, Coyle, who had been a pest and hurting the Jackets, made a costly mistake. While the Jackets were a minute into a power play, Anderson took a double-minor penalty for high-sticking, and the teams were playing 4-on-4 hockey for the following minute. Coyle, who had the puck in the corner off to Rask’s right, with some pressure on him, decided to try a blind and backhanded pass in front of Rask and his own net. The pass went directly to Seth Jones, who quickly slid it to Panarin. The Breadman smoked his second goal of the night over Rask’s glove to tie the game 2-2 with 11:59 left in the second period.
The Blue Jackets penalty kill would hold down the fort for the remaining 3
minutes of Anderson’s penalty and take the game into the second intermission tied at two.
As indicated with Coyle’s decision to attempt a blind pass in his own zone, the Bruins had not been taking care of the puck through two periods. In fact, the Bruins compiled just 13 shots on goal in 40 minutes while giving the puck away ten times.
Both clubs would be held scoreless in the third period with Bob making some great saves down the stretch and through traffic to get the game into overtime for the Jackets. Bob made timely saves too, like the one on Patrice Bergeron off a rebound from the slot at 8:24, two minutes after the Bruins nearly won on a fluke: Grzelcyk’s flip from just over the red line took a sharp bounce to the right, forcing Bobrovsky to dive to his left to catch it. Bobrovsky made another dynamic save on Bergeron’s one-timer from between the hash marks at 17:43 of the first overtime as well as a difficult save on Danton Heinen’s deflection of Chara’s shot 34 seconds later. Whew!
“Unbelievable, as he is every night,” Jones said. “It’s not even the big saves, it’s the crucial time he makes them for us. That first overtime, it could have been over three times for them and he stands tall in there as always. We go as he goes.”
Tuukka Rask’s best save came early in the first overtime. Nick Foligno cut in from Rask’s right on a 2-on-1, drew Rask toward him and launched a backhander, but Rask bailed out the B’s as he dove left and gloved it.
The Jackets got a power play at 2:59 of the 2nd OT after Bergeron tripped Jones, and Columbus won it from there. Panarin blasted a shot on Rask before Duchene kicked the rebound onto his stick and slid it through Rask’s legs for the winner.
“We have a chance to go home and hold serve now,” said Duchene. Then added:
We’ve been good at home in the playoffs. We’ve played well. That’s a really good hockey team over there, and we’re so evenly matched, I find, with the way we both play. It’s such a stalemate out there. I’m not surprised it went to overtime in back-to-back games.”
The Blue Jackets earned a road split in Game 2 because their best players were just that in the most important game of their season. “It’s awesome,” Foligno said. “I thought we were good right on through, but then those guys just punctuate it with what they can bring. You need that. You need to find a way to get your stars to score big goals, your big boys, and then the depth guys kind of fill in between.”
The Jackets go as Jones goes, too. He was at his best in Game 2, playing 38:01 with two assists, five hits and three blocks.
Jones may not have recorded a point on the double-overtime winner, but
Duchene doesn’t score on the play without Jones’ long reach to keep the puck in the zone 25 seconds before Duchene scored.
“He’s our engine as far as the tempo we play with,” Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella said. “He puts up numbers offensively, but I think that’s something that really goes unnoticed is how consistently he is defending and making big plays at key times defensively.”
Now this physical, grinding, old-school series goes to Nationwide Arena for Game 3 in Columbus on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“We’re still going to need more,” Tortorella said:
We’re going to need more people going and we’re going to need to get it to another level as we keep on going.