The Columbus Blue Jackets entered Game 4 with a series lead because of disciplined play, strong special teams and otherworldly play from Sergei Bobrovsky. They received a solid performance from Bob on Thursday night, but everything else went out the window as the Boston Bruins won 4-1 to tie the series at two games apiece.
CBJ coach John Tortorella tripped and fell on his way to the bench to start the game, which may have been an omen for how the rest of the night would play out. The normally sharp, responsible Blue Jackets looked uncharacteristically messy in Game 4 to the tune of 22 penalty minutes and 46 shots allowed.
If you play with fire, eventually you’ll get burned. Boston converted on two of its six power plays, both times from the stick of Patrice Bergeron. David Pastrnak and Sean Kuraly also scored for the Bruins. The much-maligned top players for Boston (Bergeron, Pastrnak and Brad Marchand) showed up in Game 4 to combine for five points on the night.
Artemi Panarin scored for the CBJ in the first period, though not without controversy. The puck hit the protective netting before the goal on a deflection and continued unnoticed. Oliver Bjorkstrand played the puck to Panarin for the goal (which apparently is enough to wipe out any challenge) and play counted.
Sergei Bobrovsky played well, stopping 42 of 46 shots with some of his usual highlight reel saves. The cracks may have begun to show in a defensive corps where the bottom is held together with paperclips and chewing gum. Dean Kukan threw a brutal elbow into the head of David Backes and looked out of place for much of the night while Adam Clendening only played 9:11.
On the offensive side, Cam Atkinson tallied five shots but saw his goalless streak extended to five games. Boone Jenner may have been the best skater again for Columbus as No. 38 created at least four shorthanded scoring chances—including a penalty shot that did not pan out. Ryan Dzingel only played 5:15 and Alexandre Texier didn’t crack eight minutes. The team appears to be struggling at 5-on-5—though they also went 0-for-4 on the power play—and finally came up short in regulation.
Boston held a slight edge in 5-on-5 CF% (52.17%), FF% (53.52%) and scoring chances (23-19), according to NaturalStatTrick.com. The Blue Jackets did generate nine high-danger scoring chances to the Bruins’ seven, however.
The Blue Jackets certainly didn’t help themselves, but sometimes it’s just not your night.
Game 5 is Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET in Boston.
David Pastrnak opened the scoring just 3:33 into the game, shaking off a huge neutral ice hit from Adam Clendening earlier in the shift. Pastrnak picked himself off the ice to hide in the offensive zone and eventually one-time a Charlie McAvoy pass past Bobrovsky. Bob got a chunk of the shot with his pads, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard.
HUGE hit from Adam Clendening on David Pastrnak, though Pastrnak would eventually score on the shift: pic.twitter.com/9y6OGpUksx— The Second Round Cannon (@cbjcannon) May 2, 2019
1-0 Bruins at 3:33 of the first period
Alexandre Texier, in the game for an injured Riley Nash, got off to a rough start by tripping Torey Krug at 6:38 to give the Bruins the night’s first power play. Just 14 seconds into the advantage, Boone Jenner found himself on a breakaway and forced Brad Marchand to haul him down for a penalty shot. Alas, Jenner saw his offering knocked away and Boston kept its one-goal lead.
The Boston edge would grew soon after. With the Bruins still on the power play, Marchand found Bergeron between the circles and he fired one into the top corner. Two goals in a span of 3:45 for the visitors.
2-0 Bruins at 7:18 of the first period
About a minute and a half later, the Blue Jackets scored their first of the night on a wild play. A Seth Jones point shot deflected off a body and into the protective netting, only the action continued without a whistle. Oliver Bjorkstrand located the puck in front and shoved it to the goal for Artemi Panarin to slam home.
The #CBJ catch a break here as the puck hits the net, but Panarin scores and it counts to cut the Bruins lead to 2-1: pic.twitter.com/46WKwz7OZq— The Second Round Cannon (@cbjcannon) May 3, 2019
2-1 Bruins at 8:46 of the first period
On the ensuing faceoff, Josh Anderson hooked Pastrnak to put the Bruins back on the man advantage. The CBJ killed it…only to go right back down a man a few minutes later thanks to a disgusting Dean Kukan elbow to the head of David Backes. Awful, dirty play on a guy who suffered his third concussion near the start of the season.
The penalty kill rose to the occasion again:
Bob robs Marchand on the power play for the #CBJ pic.twitter.com/eIRMl8hALY— The Second Round Cannon (@cbjcannon) May 3, 2019
The Blue Jackets ended the period buzzing, throwing shots on Rask and prompting Marchand to flip a puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Columbus could not convert despite two shots and the period ended soon after with Boston in front, 2-1.
The first period had everything short of a fight—huge hits, a penalty shot, a controversial goal—and the CBJ shook off the first couple of minutes and closed with some strong play.
The Blue Jackets looked much better to start the second period. They controlled the puck and created sustained pressure while Boston struggled to get the puck through the neutral zone. The pressure eventually led to a Clifton slashing penalty at 6:48, but zero shots and two minutes later, the teams were back to 5-on-5.
Pierre-Luc Dubois rang one a shot off the post at 10:40 to elicit a loud, painful groan from the Nationwide Arena crowd.
The wheels began to wobble around this point. Adam Clendening shoved David Backes into Bob for an interference penalty with 7:54 left in the period…and seconds after the penalty expired (where Jenner did pick up his fourth shorthanded chance of the night), Josh Anderson leveled Charlie McAvoy for another interference infraction.
The Blue Jackets, as they often do, killed the penalty without much trouble and even produced another shorthanded chance from Nick Foligno.
Back at even strength, Bob stoned Bergeron on a breakaway and Marchand tripped Anderson as the puck went the other way for another Columbus power play to end the period. The PP looked dangerous—and Panarin would’ve had a grade-A chance if Nick Foligno hadn’t whiffed on a pass—but the period ended with one second left on the power play and a 2-1 Boston score.
There were no penalties through the first eight minutes—just a lot of back and forth play that saw the Jackets create a handful of faintly dangerous shots but no goal.
That narrative held until Boston managed to score its third. Some sustained cycling in the CBJ end allowed Zdeno Chara to shoot intentionally wide from the point, where Bob popped the puck in front for local boy Sean Kuraly to score his second goal of the playoffs.
3-1 Bruins at 8:40 of the third period
Columbus headed to the power play with 7:48 left by way of a Jake DeBrusk tripping penalty. For the power play’s final minute, the CBJ set up a shooting gallery in the Boston end with chances from every member of Columbus’s top unit. The CBJ couldn’t solve Rask, though, and the PP ended without a score.
A media timeout with five minutes left reset the game and allowed the crowd to roar following the stoppage…but Pierre-Luc Doubois held Brandon Carlo at 15:59 for the Blue Jackets’ sixth (!) penalty.
After four fruitless power plays, Boston finally cashed in with 30 seconds left on the advantage. Bob stopped a Pastrnak one-timer and Bergeron stuffed it in the net for a 4-1 Bruins lead.
4-1 Bruins at 17:30 of the third period
That goal would cap the scoring, but Bob made an incredible save in the final minute, robbing a mid-air whack from David Backes.