The Bruins and Blue Jackets are going to need that extra day off before Game 3 in Columbus.
Going to extra frames for the second straight game, the Blue Jackets came out on top 3–2 in double overtime in Game 2 as their series with the Bruins is quickly developing into a gritty, physical matchup that could easily go the distance before a winner is decided.
The tone was set early on Saturday with 38 total hits in the first period and 91 hits through almost 84 minutes of play. It was a more physical start than an offensive one (there was just one shot in the first five minutes), but there were several big hits early, including a monstrous open-ice hit from Zdeno Chara on Riley Nash early, perhaps a bit of retribution for Nash’s hit on David Krejci in the third period of Game 1. Labeled day-to-day on Thursday, Krejci played on Saturday and had an assist on the opening goal for Boston.
After taking care of the Lightning in four games, none of which needed extra frames, the Blue Jackets are being forced to work a little bit harder with the Bruins, and it’s both teams’ goaltenders who have been given the hardest tasks so far. Both Sergei Bobrovsky and Tuukka Rask had to come up with downright magical saves and were unbeatable in the third period and first overtime. Both teams had plentiful scoring chances, but the goaltenders were making players earn that final goal.
Bobrovsky’s 29 saves including numerous highlight-worthy stops, including when a dump-in attempt took a weird bounce and the netminder had to dive with an outstretched arm to keep the game going. The Blue Jackets’ stars woke up for Game 2 and were the difference makers, particularly Artemi Panarin, who turned in a three-point night, scoring twice with a couple of lethal snipes and adding a helper on Matt Duchene’s overtime winner.
Similar to how Boston could have had a much bigger lead in Game 1 if it weren’t for Bobrovsky, the same could be said for the Rask in Game 2. In the second period, Columbus outmuscled the Bruins, who had several turnovers and struggled to maintain possession. Rask also came up with a big save two minutes into overtime when Nick Foligno took an odd-man rush opportunity straight to Rask with a backhand shot, but the goalie made a glove save with much of the net wide open for Foligno.
Penalties proved to be Boston’s downfall, though, with Columbus converting on two of four power plays, including Duchene’s game-winner. The first came off Brad Marchand’s first penalty of the postseason for cross-checking Alexandre Texier from behind and Panarin beat Rask clean on the man advantage. Patrice Bergeron was sent to the box early in the second overtime for tripping Seth Jones and Duchene was able to kick the rebound from a Panarin shot to his stick and beat Rask to even the series.
Close, back-and-forth games have been a theme to this year’s playoffs, with Game 2 being the 13th overtime game, and Saturday being the seventh straight day with extra frames, an NHL record. If Bobrovsky and Rask continue to make heart-stopping moves in the crease, this series could definitely see some more free hockey before it’s over.