Preview: Blue Jackets at Bruins
The Boston Bruins finished tied for the second-highest point total during the regular season and much of the success was due to the offensive exploits of their potent top line. The unit had been held in check during the Bruins' Eastern Conference semifinal before breaking out Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets to send the series back to Boston tied at 2-2 entering Saturday's Game 5.
After being limited to one goal through the opening three games, the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak erupted for three tallies in five points for the Bruins in the 4-1 victory in Game 4. "I don't think any team wins without their best players being their best players," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters. "We can survive for a while. So far in this series we had." Eighth-seeded Columbus had its way in a stunning first-round sweep of Tampa Bay, but was limited to a playoff-low one score after the previous three games were decided by one goal. "It's the series, man," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno told reporters. "It's 2-2, and this is what we thought it was going to be, so I'm not too concerned. We obviously need to tighten up in certain areas, make sure our (penalty) kill is a little bit better."
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA, Sportsnet
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS: Although Boone Jenner was denied on a penalty shot in one of the pivotal sequences of Game 4, he scored in the previous contest and was an ongoing force Thursday with six shots on goal - five of them coming with his team short-handed. "He's taken a huge step forward, especially in this series," teammate Cam Atkinson told reporters. "Obviously you know what to expect out of Boone every single game, but last game he really elevated his play and it carried into this game." Artemi Panarin scored the lone goal in Game 5 for his team-leading 10th point of the playoffs.
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Overshadowed early in the series by Sergei Bobrovsky, Tuukka Rask was spectacular in Game 4 by making a playoff-high 39 saves, including the aforementioned stop on the penalty shot. "He's been a great player for our group all playoffs," Marchand told reporters. "He's given us a chance to win every game. He was big again tonight. When we needed him to make saves on the kill and when they were putting surges on he was big for us. He had a great game." Rask has compiled some impressive numbers in the series, turning aside 129 of 137 shots and posting a 1.80 goals-against average.
1. Bergeron's two goals gave him 93 playoff points and allowed him to surpass Bobby Orr for sixth in franchise history.
2. Blue Jackets D Seth Jones had a team-high seven shots on goal and blocked five for the second straight game.
3. Bruins D Torey Krug collected two assists Thursday to give him seven points in the postseason.
PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Blue Jackets 2