Yet, the Bruins had a chance to steal Game 2 against the Blue Jackets on a night where they lacked crispness. They set the physical tone early but were prone to mistakes, turnovers and a heasitation to shoot the puck.
The fatigued Bruins looked a bit different in overtime, though. Tuukka Rask made a marquee highlight-reel save on Nick Foligno. The issues from regulation lingered but that moment settled them down a bit. Patrice Bergeron had a couple of chances to win it, but Sergei Bobrovsky countered Rask’s stops earlier in the period with a pair of highlight-reel saves on the four-time Selke winner.
Bergeron had a different game-ender that he didn’t want to be a part of. An untimely trip in double overtime on Artemi Panarin put the Bruins on the penalty kill for the second time in the extra session. Matt Duchene capitalized with a rebound past Rask for Columbus’ 3-2 victory and the series equalizer.
“Obviously it’s on me, try to avoid that penalty and that’s it,” a responsible Bergeron said postgame. “It’s a tough loss, but we got to move forward.”
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins settle for a split of the first two games against John Tortorella’s bunch.
The Bruins somehow survived a sloppy second period
The Bruins set a physical tone during the early part of Game 1. Zdeno Chara’s hit on Riley Nash and Connor Clifton’s collision with Oliver Bjorkstrand set the tone in the first 10 minutes and change.
Matt Grzelcyk’s first-period power play tally gave the Bruins something to build on. But they didn’t look the same in the second. The opportunistic Blue Jackets, albeit sloppy in their own right, found their skating legs and took advantage of Boston’s miscues.
Artemi Panarin scored twice thanks to a pair of turnovers from Zdeno Chara and Charlie Coyle. The Bruins sandwiched a 2-1 lead between Panarin’s tallies when Coyle’s pass in front deflected off David Pastrnak’s skate past Bobrovsky.
The turnovers, overthinking and passing on shot attempts began in the middle 20. A wasted power play chance with on Josh Anderson’s double-minor for high sticking Ohio native Sean Kuraly highlighted the night of self-inflicted wounds.
“I think so, but like I said, power play goals they earn them,” Coyle said. “But if we stay out of the box, play five on five and take care of the puck, I think we give ourselves a better chance.”
Pastrnak’s tally was a rare bright spot of the middle stanza. It was a rare bright spot for the dynamic fifth-year forward as of late.
The Bruins need Pastrnak and the rest of their marquee players to step up as the series shifts to Columbus. That brings us to our next point…
Paging Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak
Something isn’t right with Boston’s marquee trio.
Bergeron had a stellar night from the faceoff dot, going 20-for-26. He didn’t have an issue in the defensive end either, helping clean up the mess some of his teammates created with their puck mismanagement. But his tripping penalty in double overtime ultimately put a tired bunch behind the proverbial 8-ball.
Brad Marchand did more skating and dangling than shooting. It’s a habit that’s crept up in his game at times. That can’t happen against a defensively sound Blue Jackets bunch.
Pastrnak, Bergeron and Marchand’s usual top-line cohort, is in a rut. Bruce Cassidy is trying all sorts of ways to get him going, but his indecisiveness with the puck — despite scoring Boston’s second goal — makes him a tough sell on any line right now.
“To me, I still think he’s indecisive whether to shoot or pass. You see it on the power play. When it looks like he should shoot, he makes a play — then when the opportunity to make a play is there is forced. He just has to kind of fight his way through it,” Cassidy said about Pastrnak.
“We’ve tried to play him with both Bergy [Bergeron] and Krech [David Krejci] — give him centers that he’s comfortable with — then we moved him away with Coyle. There’s only so much you can do with the personnel in terms of shifting him around. At some point, it’s a matter of playing your way out of it and hopefully tonight was a start. He did get on the scoresheet, and then from there hopefully it gets going.”
Perhaps Pastrnak, Bergeron and Marchand had a little something to build on in Game 2. It’s not that they played all that poorly. But they know they can be better. Quite frankly, they have to be.
Extra day off comes at a good time
The Bruins started their postseason schedule on April 11. They ended their ninth game in 17 days with a two-overtime affair after the clock struck midnight on the east coast.
Cassidy’s bunch took advantage of a rusty Blue Jackets squad in Game 1. Columbus completed its sweep of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning nine days prior to the second-round series opener.
The Blue Jackets want to get in a rhythm after taking Game 2. They’ll have to wait an extra day before returning to Nationwide Arena for Game 3 on Tuesday. The Bruins, just five days removed from their third straight Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs, couldn’t have picked a better time to rest up.
Bergeron and company get a needed day off on Sunday before returning to the ice for Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. They’ll travel to Columbus shortly after. They should be refreshed and ready to go as they look to reclaim home ice advantage over a 72-hour span.
“You try to use those days, definitely to rest up,” Bergeron said. “Like you said, it was a pretty quick turnaround for Game 1, for both games basically. We’ve got to use that day in between the right way.”
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