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Postgame Hat Trick: Columbus has one get away in Boston

Blue Jackets' rally falls short as Bruins take Game 1

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Game 1 in Boston has to feel like an opportunity lost for the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The Jackets suffered through a rough first period, as just about everyone expected after eight days without a game, but battled back to take a 2-1 lead with goal just 13 seconds apart in the third period. Columbus was less than five minutes away from essentially stealing one in TD Garden, but Charlie Coyle tied it late and then won it in overtime to give the Bruins the 3-2 win

But there seemed to be little panic from the Blue Jackets afterward. After just about everything went right in the first-round sweep of Tampa Bay, now Columbus just has a little adversity to face, something they've handled all year long.  

Video: Torts on Bobrovsky and the tempo of Game 1

"We know we're in a series," Brandon Dubinsky said afterward. 

Here are three postgame thoughts from the second-round opener. 

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1. The slow start: Columbus did everything it could to stay sharp after its April 16 series finale vs. Tampa Bay -- practices increased in intensity as the more than a week without a game passed by, and the team even had Monday's intrasquad scrimmage in front of thousands in Nationwide Arena -- but simply put, there was no way the Blue Jackets were going to stay sharp during the layoff. 

"It's so hard to mimic a game, let alone a playoff game like that," Riley Nash said. 

In fact, all things considered, it could have been a lot worse for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky was brilliant in the first, making a number of difficult saves to keep it a 1-0 game after an opening period in which Boston outshot Columbus by a 14-4 margin. 

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm1: Bobrovsky gets across to rob McAvoy

In addition to Bobrovsky's excellence, the positive to take out of the game is how Columbus was able to play stretches of the final two periods and overtime that looked much better. The Jackets will have to keep getting better from there -- no game in which a team is behind 75-38 in shot attempts is one to write home about -- but there were stretches of the game the CBJ has to play to beat the Bruins over the last two periods. 

"You saw our struggles in the first," head coach John Tortorella said. "We couldn't handle the tempo of the game. We just weren't thinking quick enough. I don't know how you can get that; we just couldn't simulate that as far as trying to get ready. Then you have a team that is coming in off a high. 

"I think we slowly got about our business and found our game, and we just have to be ready to start the next game." 

2. Getting physical: When Boston rolled out its lineup for Game 1, you had a sense of the type of game the team was going to play. 

Out was Karson Kuhlman, a speedy, talented forward who gave Columbus fits in an April 2 game and was also a big part of the Bruins' comeback from a 3-2 hole in the opening round vs. Toronto. In was Chris Wagner, a grittier option who added more hitting ability to the Boston front line. 

Columbus can play both a skill game and a grit game, but Boston went into Game 1 hoping to accentuate the latter, and what's what the Bruins got. The teams combined for 71 hits -- 40 for Columbus, 31 for Boston -- including Torey Krug's huge blast on Oliver Bjorkstrand on each's first shift of the game and a late cruncher by Josh Anderson laid on Charlie McAvoy. 

"Both teams banged when they needed to, when they had opportunities to," Tortorella said. "I think we're going to continue with it, and I'm sure they are, too." 

Tampa Bay can play a physical game, but for Boston, it's so inherent to the team's identity that it's probably printed on the team business card. That's one reason this contest seemed to be a step up when it came to the physical nature as compared to round one. 

"We talked about that before the series started," Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson said. "We know it's going to be a lot more physical. They play a similar style to us." 

3. Handling Marchand, et al: If there was a quintessentially Brad Marchand moment, it came in overtime. 

As the Boston standout and Atkinson leaned in for a draw, Marchand stepped on Atkinson's stick, breaking it in half near the blade. 

Luckily for Atkinson, the linesman didn't drop the puck, and the Blue Jackets forward was able to go get a new stick. But that's what Marchand brings; in addition to being one of the league's great scorers, he is also probably the No. 1 pest in the NHL. 

"Hey, if that's how he wants to roll ... I don't know," Atkinson said afterward. "That's who he is. I'm not going to let it get to me." 

But for one night, where the Blue Jackets couldn't shut him down during the season -- he had seven points in three regular-season games vs. Columbus -- Marchand had a rough night on the stat sheet. Not only was he kept scoreless, he was on the ice for the two Columbus goals.  

In all, it was a good night for the Jackets against Boston's big guns. Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and David Krejci were all held without points, and Krejci left in the third period after taking a hit from Nash, with Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy saying after the game he's day-to-day. 

But unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, it was the secondary Boston scoring that got them. Noel Acciari started the scoring shorthanded, while Marcus Johansson set up Coyle for each of his late goals. Seth Jones took responsibility for losing Coyle on the first, while Coyle caught Zach Werenski flat-footed on the game-winner after an awkward zone entry that was nearly offside.

"Secondary scoring is something we need, we lacked at times this year, and we seem to have found it now," Cassidy said. "It's really helped us." 

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