It was about the halfway mark of the third period and the Bruins held a 2-0 lead in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Then things got a little wild.
The final 10 minutes were about as wild as you’re going to see, with the Blue Jackets outscoring Boston 3-1 during an explosion of four goals in 2:25. But all that only set up David Pastrnak’s second of the period – with 88 seconds left to match his jersey number – as the Bruins hung on to a 4-3 win that does, indeed, push Columbus to the brink of elimination with Game 6 at Nationwide Arena on Monday.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella hadn’t even left TD Garden in Boston before making his feelings known.
“We will be back here for Game 7,” promised Jackets head coach John Tortorella, who said the exact same words when the Jackets lost Game 5 to the Capitals last spring – and they did not hold true.
The Jackets came very close to making game 5 the third to go into overtime when, with 15 seconds left Matt Duchene hit the side of the post with a deflection and Cam Atkinson’s shot at the rebound resulted in a strong right pad save by Tuukka Rask that saw the puck stop on the goal line.
That was a gutsy comeback,” said Duchene. It wasn’t meant to be tonight. But we have a chance to go back to our rink and refocus. We need to start the way we finished tonight.
The crazy dash to the regulation time buzzer started when Seth Jones took a shot that went off of the stick of Boston blue liner Matt Grzelcyk and seemed to squeeze past Rask’s pad and the post, but only after a lengthy review was it ruled a good goal.
From there, all hell broke loose.
Just 43 seconds after the Jones goal, Pastrnak scored. Just 51 seconds later, Ryan Dzingel notched his first to pull Columbus within one again. Just 101 seconds after that, defenseman Dean Kukan notched his first to tie it.
And then Pastrnak’s heroics.
Sounds fun, right?
I don’t know if I would say fun, man, said Bruin’s defenseman Charlie McAvoy. My heart was beating pretty fast there.
The goalies were the story in the first two periods, as they have been through the series.
After a scoreless first that saw the Bruins test Bobrovsky nine times, including just three times on two power play opportunities, and the Blue Jackets get eight pucks on Rask, with just one shot on one man-advantage, blood was finally drawn early in the second.
It started with a definite no-no: Jackets star Artemi Panarin turned the puck over at the Bruin’s blue line. That stuff drives coaches nuts, and what ensued is why.
Playing in just his second game of the series – and second in row – David Backes jumped on the puck Zdeno Chara separated from Panarin. When Backes stepped over the Jackets line, he dropped a pass to Jake DeBrusk, who didn’t have the puck for two seconds before he threw it through the slot to David Krejci. Krejci’s shot slid under Bobrovsky and to the back of the net.
Momentum is definitely a thing, said Brad Marchand. Saw the way they kind of took it and used it in the third to come back. But this game’s over and you move on to the next game. It’s a completely new challenge.
The Jackets did get some life and confidence in the third period, and hopefully they can carry that over into game six in Columbus.
Just play smart hockey, play our style of hockey for a full 60 minutes, we should be fine, said Seth Jones. We’re excited about the energy in the building and the way the environment and our fans are going to react for us in Game 6.
If the Jackets can get it done in game six at Nationwide Arena on Monday night, the Blue Jackets will play their first ever game seven on Wednesday night in Boston. It won’t be easy, but it’s not over, Columbus. Stay tuned.