After stunning the hockey world with a triumphant comeback win in the first game of the Stanley Cup playoffs—the start of a four-game sweep of the regular season's best team—the Blue Jackets have finally come back down to Earth with their first loss of this postseason.
Having not played for nine days since eliminating the Lightning, the Blue Jackets started a bit rusty in their 3–2 Game 1 overtime loss to the Bruins. But there’s no reason for Columbus to panic just yet. Boston dominated the start of the game, and if it hadn’t been for some remarkable play from Sergei Bobrovsky, Game 1 probably never would have reached overtime. But the goaltender pulled through and Columbus reached the first intermission down 1–0 when it easily could have been a much deeper hole (the Bruins had a 14–4 shot advantage after the first). Things settled down in the second, with Columbus holding the Bruins scoreless and finally peppering Tuukka Rask with more scoring chances. And then it was a 13-second span midway through the third that reminded us how Columbus jumpstarted the chaos that has been a staple in these playoffs.
It seemed that former Bruin Riley Nash finally broke through for the Blue Jackets, tipping a shot from Seth Jones, but Brandon Dubinsky made it a double-deflection goal to even things up. Just 13 seconds later, Pierre-Luc Dubois got a deflection of his own when a shot from Artemi Panarin hit off his leg and went through Rask’s to give Columbus a 2–1 lead.
Deadline acquisitions were crucial to Columbus’s first-round dominance (looking at you, Matt Duchene), but it was Boston’s late additions that stole the show in Game 1, with Charlie Coyle scoring both the tying goal with less than five minutes left in the third and the game-winner, both off feeds from Marcus Johansson.
Columbus was lethal on its power play against Tampa Bay (a bit of a role reversal, eh?), but that was not the case against Boston. In fact, the Blue Jackets gave up a shorthanded goal when Noel Acciari opened up scoring in the first and failed to strike on the man advantage with four opportunities. Columbus’s penalty kill found more success, killing off all four of chances for Boston’s skilled power play.
Boston is a less banged-up opponent than what the Lightning were for Columbus, but the Bruins could be temporarily without David Krejci, who didn’t play in overtime after being hit by Nash in the third period. Bruce Cassidy told reporters after the game that Krejci is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, though the coach did specify that Krejci is not in concussion protocol.
The Blue Jackets closed out the regular season with a 7-1-0 run, which they seamlessly took into the first round. But their last defeat before Thursday? The Bruins. Despite just finishing up a seven-game series against Toronto, the Bruins didn’t look tired to start Round 2. Boston started clicking in its last two games against the Maple Leafs and brought that into Thursday. But even as the stronger team in Game 1, tallying up 75 shot attempts compared to Columbus’s 38, the Bruins had to rely on same late-game rallying to come out on top.