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Game 3 practice report: Jenner line leads way for CBJ

Nash figures to play after big hit from Chara in Game 2

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The only line that has a label this time of year is the 5th Line. 

For example, you might be tempted to call the trio of Boone Jenner centering Brandon Dubinsky and Riley Nash the Blue Jackets' fourth line, but Nick Foligno cautions against that. 

"I think our fourth line or whatever you want to call that because they don't play like it, they played a hell of a game," the captain said after Game 2. "They just give us confidence. They go out there and they take the puck and they go down and play in their end. That's what they do. You watch that, the other lines take notice. We have to do the same thing." 

GAME 3 HUB: Highlights, tweets, and news

The Dubinsky-Jenner-Nash trio is one that seems as though it was built for a series like this, where playing a heavy game and fighting for every inch of ice is paramount.  

Video: Dubinsky not shaken by physical nature of series

So far in the series, the line has produced one of the CBJ's two goals at 5-on-5 - Dubinsky's game-tying tally in Game 1 - while combining for 12 shots on goal and 23 hits so far in the series. 

"Certainly the way that this series is shaping up to be, we've talked about the physical play, it's an element our line brings and we're going to continue to bring," Dubinsky said. "That's energy, that's physicality, and that's making sure we do the best job to chip in offensively to chip in when we can and keep the puck out of the net." 

On top of the impact on the score sheet, that line has done its part in plenty of ways. All three members have been key parts of the penalty kill at times in the series, and their forechecking and cycling in the offensive zone have paved the way for the way the Jackets want to attack the Bruins. 

"They had some good minutes," head coach John Tortorella said. "They played well. They played to who they are. Probably our most consistent line." 

PLAYOFF CENTRAL: Your one-stop location for news, notes, videos, and more

Nash gets mashed, comes back: On the first shift of the game Saturday, in the words of Tortorella, Nash got "filled in" good by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara. 

The ageless Bruins D-man lined up Nash at the red line as he tried to push the puck forward and crunched him with the kind of pulverizing hit Chara has become known for over his 21 seasons in the league. 

"It was kind of a weird play because Dubi was right in front of me, and I poked (the puck) and (Chara) came out of nowhere," Nash said. "I tried to take the hit as best as possible. He's a big guy. You're going to expect guys stepping up in this series on plays like that." 

Nash went back to the bench in some discomfort and even went down the hallway to the team locker room for a spell, but he was back by the time the first period was over and ended up playing 20 more shifts and a total of 14:30 of action. 

As for whether the hit hurt, Nash said simply, "Never hurts." 

Video: Keep the momentum rolling

It was the kind of return that inspires benches in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, something Dubinsky confirmed Monday. 

"100 percent," Dubinsky said. "He's been great for us. He's been a huge part of our success. Scores a massive goal in Game 2 and puts the game away. Obviously he's just played really well throughout the playoffs. It was tough to see him leave the bench because of how much we need him, and we're happy to have him back." 

Kickin' it with Kuks: Flash back to mid-March and Dean Kukan was what he was for most of the Blue Jackets' season - the team's seventh defenseman, more accustomed to watching games than playing in them.  

He played in just 16 of the team's first 72 games, then got in the lineup March 19 at Calgary as Markus Nutivaara fell ill. He was out for the next game then stepped in for the injured Scott Harrington on March 24 in Vancouver. 

From there, Kukan was a regular, impressing with his poise on the puck. He played in each of the last eight games, posting two assists and a plus-8 rating, and has been on the ice for each of the team's six playoff games. 

Video: Kukan talks about Nationwide Arena atmosphere

Looking back, Kukan credits the continuous work he did during the season, including spells on off days and gameday mornings with staffers like skills coach Kenny McCudden. 

"I think it helped," Kukan asid. "As you said, I've been working hard all season when I was the seventh defenseman, watching from the stands. Now I get a chance to play, so hard work paid off and I'm really enjoying the chance to play right now." 

For the past four games, with Nutivaara out with an undisclosed injury, Kukan has been on the team's second pairing with David Savard. He played 25:08 in the Jackets' double-OT win in Game 2, by far his biggest number of the season. 

"It's really fun," the 25-year-old from Switzerland said. "Playoffs is a little bit different hockey than the regular season. I think games are really intense and it's fun to play." 

Personnel report: Tortorella has said he's not discussing his lineup the rest of the series, so no update on any personnel moves is available for the Blue Jackets. The team held an optional skate Tuesday morning that featured a number of players, including Alexandre Texier, the 19-year-old rookie forward who did not play in the final 36-plus minutes of Game 2 after his defensive zone turnover nearly ended up in the CBJ net in a 2-2 game early in the third period. 

"At that time, I just wanted to do different things with the lines," Tortorella said Monday. 

For Boston, head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed Tuesday that one change will be made. Rookie forward Karson Kuhlman will enter the lineup for Chris Wagner, adding some speed and offensive skill to the Bruins lineup. Kuhlman had a 3-2-5 line in 11 games for Boston this season, including a goal and an assist in an April 2 win in Columbus. 

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