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Postgame Hat Trick: Jackets comeback falls short in Game 5

Columbus starts scoring, but late goal gives Boston series lead

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

It was simultaneously one of the great comebacks in Blue Jackets history and one of the biggest gut-punch losses you can remember. 

And it sure didn't seem like that was going to be the case through 40 minutes. 

Through two periods, Game 5 of the Jackets' series vs. Boston was a lot like the first four games - tight-checking, little space and defensive-minded. 

Then the teams exploded for a six-goal third period, turning what had been a tense 1-0 affair into an even tenser 4-3 final that Boston won with a goal by David Pastrnak in the last 90 seconds. 

Video: Torts felt the team had energy but need to make plays

"It was a gutsy comeback," forward Matt Duchene said. "It's so disappointing to lose that." 

Here are three thoughts on the game, which gave Boston a 3-2 lead and puts Columbus on the brink of elimination heading back to the capital city for Monday night's Game 6. 

1. Wild third: Through two periods, Boston led the Jackets 1-0, and it was low-event hockey. 

According to Natural Stat Trick, Boston had a 30-29 edge in shot attempts at 5-on-5, the Blue Jackets led in scoring chances at 8-7, and Boston held a 4-1 edge in high-danger chances. 

Then the wild third happened. In that period alone, the Bruins had a 29-21 edge in shot attempts, a 19-10 edge in scoring chances and a 6-5 margin in high-danger chances. Boston had a great start to the third, taking a 2-0 lead, Columbus battled back to tie it at 3, and the teams threw shot after shot at each other through Pastrnak's winner and great late chances to tie for Duchene and Cam Atkinson. 

"I think both teams, it was like a chess match in the first period, seeing how it was going to go," Nick Foligno said. "They obviously came out hard. We knew we had to answer that. Once we got our legs going, especially in the second, I felt like we really started to turn the tides." 

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As far as what started to work for the Jackets in the third, Foligno had a quick answer. 

"If anything, I'd just say it's our mentality, it's the way we pressed," he said. "That has to be the way we play the whole game." 

2. Finally at 5-on-5: Columbus had just four goals at 5-on-5 through the first four games and didn't add to that total in the first 50 minutes on Saturday night. 

Then, suddenly, it became a goal fest. Columbus scored three goals on four shots on goal in a span of 3:25, and the trio of goals each came at 5-on-5. 

Did the Jackets figure anything out? Not particularly, but they did find their confidence. From the first goal by Seth Jones - a fluky play that deflected off the stick of Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and snuck between the pad and post of Tuukka Rask, necessitating a video review - the Jackets suddenly brimmed with the belief they could score goals. 

Ryan Dzingel and Dean Kukan followed with each's first goal of the playoffs, giving Columbus 16 different players that have scored this postseason.  

"I think the reason (the loss) is so disappointing is we had a chance to win that game once we made it 3-3," Duchene said. "We're happy to get on the board 5-on-5. That's been a challenge this series. We have to pick up where we left off tonight next game." 

Columbus also found some line combinations that generated offensive zone play in Pierre-Luc Dubois centering Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson, Duchene between Dzingel and Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Boone Jenner with Foligno and Cam Atkinson. 

Things were always going to be a bit jumbled up front with Columbus' decision to go with 11 forwards and get Vladislav Gavrikov his NHL debut, but the Jackets generated more as the game went on and got a goal from all three of those forward trios.  

"We found some lines that got us some offense," head coach John Tortorella said. 

3. Goals allowed: If there's a true area of concern for the Jackets right now, it's that the Bruins' best players have been just that in the past two games. 

One game after Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Pastrnak also tallied, Pastrnak got two goals in Game 5 while Brad Marchand had a 1-2-3 line.  

"They break through the other night and now they're feeling good about themselves," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They're dominant when they're on. And when they're feeling it, it's a tall task for the other team." 

This makes two games in a row that the Bruins had four goals after Boston scored just six in the first three games of the series.

Inserting Gavrikov into the lineup helped for 40 minutes, as the Jackets limited the Bruins' chances for the opening two-thirds of the game, but the defensive structure broke down some in the third, especially as the Jackets chased the game. And on the final goal, the Jackets got caught in transition as Boston potted its winner.

Those small mistakes have a way of becoming big ones in the playoffs, and it's something the team will have to clear up to survive Game 6.

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