The Columbus Blue Jackets couldn’t win five games in a row to start the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, falling in the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinal to the Boston Bruins in overtime, 3-2.
Columbus shrugged off a rusty start and pulled itself out of a 1-0 deficit with two third period goals that came 13 seconds apart. Brandon Dubinsky deflected in a Riley Nash shot and an Artemi Panarin chance bounced off of Pierre-Luc Dubois to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead in the final period of regulation.
Charlie Coyle, who allowed Nash to set up the CBJ’s first goal, scored an equalizer of his own with 4:35 left to play to pull the Bruins even at 2-2.
Coyle struck again 5:15 into overtime to win the game. Danton Heinen won a blue line joust with Zach Werenski—who may have paused, thinking the Bruins were offside—and passed the puck to Marcus Johansson, who found Coyle alone in front for the game-winning score.
The Blue Jackets spent much of the first period (and the game, really) chasing the Bruins around the Columbus end. Take a look at this 5-on-5 gameflow chart from NaturalStatTrick.com:
The Bruins outshot Columbus 37-22, aided by a 14-4 edge in the first period against a flat-footed Blue Jackets squad. The CBJ turned in a strong second and took advantage of some decent chances in the third, but it wasn’t enough. Boston delivered an eye-popping 66.67% CF% and a 62.32% FF% at 5-on-5, though the high danger chances were closer at 10-8 in favor of the Bruins.
Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play. Seth Jones led the Blue Jackets with a pair of assists and Sergei Bobrovsky kept the CBJ in it for long stretches, stopping 34 shots in an impressive effort. Tuukka Rask stopped 20 of 22 shots.
Game 2 is Saturday at 8 p.m. in Boston.
Boston came out strong, immediately throwing hits and firing shots on Bob. The CBJ netminder stood tall, however, as the well-oiled Bruins machine pounced on the rusty Blue Jackets.
At 3:19, Scott Harrington threw a knee into Sean Kuraly and went to the box for tripping. Bob was able to hold off the Bruins until Boston took a too many men on the ice call with 43 seconds left in their power play.
Columbus continued to allow shots, playing some serious catch-up hockey. Boston nearly scored when Charlie McAvoy squeezed a shot through Bob that skittered just wide of the net.
The Blue Jackets registered their first shot on goal with 13:09 left, resembling cats in a bathtub. Not ideal.
It looked like the CBJ caught a break when Charlie Coyle hooked Alexandre Texier to put the visitors on their first full power play at 9:20. But instead of showing the power play that scored at a 50 percent clip during the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus allowed Noel Accari to walk in and score his first goal of the playoffs shorthanded. Pierre-Luc Dubois lost the puck in the neutral zone and Accari sped the other way, finally putting a shot past the beleaguered Bob for a 1-0 Bruins lead. Honestly, it was a matter of time.
That would be all the damage Boston could do in the first, despite a couple of chances. Cam Atkinson found Ryan Dzingel off of an offensive-zone turnover for a solid look to no avail. Dubois also put together an odd-man rush with Panarin but elected to shoot, only to find the glove of Rask.
The period ended with a 1-0 Boston lead and the home side held a 14-4 shot edge. “Bit of a fire drill, but only down 1-0 because of our goalie,” said CBJ head coach John Tortorella during a bench interview in the second period.
Columbus gifted Boston a man advantage early in the second period when Riley Nash committed a tripping penalty at 2:56. The Blue Jackets showed a competent PK, though, and were able to escape the Bruins PP unscathed.
A few minutes later, David Krejci tripped Foligno to put the Blue Jackets back on the power play. Columbus managed two shots—with no goal—as they faced trouble entering the zone early on before looking a little more comfortable later into the minor.
Things settled down as the period progressed, with Columbus looking a little more in control of their faculties.
The Alexandre Texier-Nick Foligno-Josh Anderson line threw their weight around on the forecheck and gave the Bruins fits. Anderson even rattled one off the post thanks to Texier winning a puck battle from Charlie McAvoy...you could feel the momentum shifting here.
A CBJ power play went by the boards without a goal when Patrice Bergeron hooked David Savard joining the rush. Brad Marchand made things dangerous when he sped into Columbus territory on a breakaway, only to have his shot interrupted by a backchecking Oliver Bjorkstrand. Columbus only registered one shot on the PP.
With 1:12 left in the period, Zach Werenski turned the puck over and interfered with David Pastrnak on the rush—specifically hauling him down for another Boston power play. The period would end with Boston keeping its 1-0 lead, though..or Columbus holding Boston to only one goal, depending on how you look at it.
The third period belonged to the Blue Jackets on the scoreboard...mostly. Boone Jenner nearly scored the team’s first goal, firing a shot off of the post before getting called for holding Zdeno Chara a few seconds later. Columbus killed the penalty without incident.
The CBJ finally broke through with 12:21 left in regulation, and it came from Columbus’s vaunted forecheck. Riley Nash stole the puck from Charlie Coyle at the Boston blue line and sent it deep for Boone Jenner behind the net. Jenner then hit Seth Jones on the point for a slapshot, deflecting off of Dubinsky to tie the game at 1-1.
After the ensuing faceoff, it took all of 13 seconds for the Blue Jackets to take their first lead of the series. The Blue Jackets won the faceoff and soon after, Panarin uncorked a slapshot from just inside the zone that bounced off Dubois and past Rask for a 2-1 CBJ lead.
With the TD Garden crowd reeling, Boston entered desperation mode and threw all of its energy at the Columbus net. The Blue Jackets scrambled in their own zone, laying in front of Bobrovsky, throwing out sticks, relying on Bobrovsky to stop shots.
It worked for awhile, but Boston cashed in with 4:35 left. A strong forecheck from Nash-Foligno-Texier went for naught as Boston stormed down the other end and Coyle one-timed a feed from Johansson inside the left post for the tying goal.
From there, Coyle would score one more time in the extra frame to give Boston a 1-0 series lead.
- Sure, a Blue Jackets win would’ve been ideal, but they didn’t really deserve it in Game 1. They looked rusty to start the game and Boston clearly came to play. Still, they took a hard punch from a very good team and nearly stole a road win. On to Game 2.
- That Texier-Foligno-Anderson line was great. The rookie isn’t afraid to throw his weight around and the forecheck from that line gave the Bruins fits.
- “Fun” stuff in overtime from everyone’s favorite player, Brad Marchand:
Marchand steps on Atkinson's stick... pic.twitter.com/VB8KwfZFHg— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 26, 2019
- Game 1 was one of Riley Nash’s better games of the entire 2018-19 campaign. He was noticeable, throwing his body around and finding opportunities in the Boston end. Nash registered two takeaways on the night.
- Speaking of Nash, media report that David Krejci is day-to-day following a hit from No. 20 that kept him out of overtime.
- Rough possession numbers from Columbus all around, but Adam Clendening looked solid (analytics-wise) in his nine-plus minutes of work. Markus Nutivaara or even Vladislav Gavrikov would provide a boost to this defensive group, though.
- HOW ‘BOUT THOSE MONSTERS?
- The rust has been shaken—or knocked—off. It’s safe to say Columbus won’t come out as sluggish on Saturday as they did on Thursday. It’s all about the rebound.