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Postgame Hat Trick: Duchene again huge as Jackets knot series

Deadline acquisition's goal allows Columbus to tie Boston

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Get ready, Columbus. 

Some good stuff is headed your way. 

The Blue Jackets said they expected this second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series would be a marathon, not a sprint, and Columbus went out and proved it Saturday night in Boston. We now have a series and a damn good one as Columbus won the second straight overtime game to start the series, earning the 3-2 victory against the Bruins to knot things up. 

Boston is as close to NHL royalty as you can get, as this is a battle-tested, playoff-ready team that has advanced to the second round of the playoffs seven times in 11 years. In other words, Boston is built for this, but on Saturday night the Blue Jackets stood toe-to-toe with the big, bad Bruins and left with the win over more than 83 minutes of hockey. 

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"It's huge," winning goal scorer Matt Duchene said. "We have a chance to go home and hold serve now." 

Now, the series returns to Columbus, and the Blue Jackets have a team that feels like something special could be brewing. 

Here are three observations from the victory in the second-longest game in franchise history. 

1. Dutchy does it: You never know how a trade deadline deal is going to go, but if you're an NHL team, you hope it comes together like the Duchene deal has gone for the Jackets. 

Columbus gave up a lot to get one of the most prized deadline talents, and Duchene has repaid the team in spades this postseason. After leading the way with seven points in the four-game sweep of Tampa Bay, his goal at 3:42 of the second overtime gave the Jackets the win Saturday night. 

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm2: Duchene wins it in 2OT on power play

He nearly won it earlier on the power play, slapping a shot off Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, but didn't make a mistake with his second great chance from in front. Rask stopped a blast by Artemi Panarin from the left circle, but the rebound stayed in front, where Duchene kicked it onto the blade of his stick and slid it between Rask's legs. 

"Right before, it hit me in the ankle, hit the goalie and came out, and I just about put it in," Duchene said. "I was feeling like I was going to get another shot for some reason. I don't know. When Bread shot it, it came to me and I just tried to be patient and see what was there, and he just opened up the five-hole and I was able to slip it in." 

Duchene dropped to his knees in celebration before being mobbed by his teammates. He's the only one of four deadline acquisitions in the lineup - fellow former Ottawa forward Ryan Dzingel was a healthy scratch, defenseman Adam McQuaid remains out with an injury and goaltender Keith Kinkaid is the team's third goalie - but his contributions have helped make the Jackets a deeper and more dangerous team. 

For Duchene, it's also a charmed situation, as his first lengthy playoff run is coming with a team he never could have imagined playing for when the season started. 

"I love playing for this team," he said after the game. "I'm really excited to be here. This is something I've chased for a long time. I couldn't be happier to be a Blue Jacket, and every game that goes by where we keep this run going is an absolute pleasure." 

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2. Powerful power play: Plenty of kudos should go to the Jackets' penalty kill, which got the job done with a 2:59 kill of Josh Anderson's double minor for high sticking in the second period in what was one of the key turning points of the game. 

But tonight, we'll give our biggest props to the CBJ power play, which went 2 for 4 in the win. The Jackets are now 7 for 18 in the playoffs and 2 for 8 in this series, and the team has scored at least one power-play goal in five of six postseason games. 

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm2: Panarin blasts one-timer for PPG

Tampa Bay and Boston were both elite teams during the regular season, and the power play is a place where the Blue Jackets have a chance to steal goals that can lead to wins. That's especially true against a Boston team that was second in the NHL this past season in 5-on-5 goals allowed. 

In other words, the power play is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of, and after going 0 for 4 in the first game, the PP was back to being a difference maker Saturday night. 

The first man-up goal for the Jackets on the night was the lid-lifter just 1:03 into the second period and the team trailing 1-0. Seth Jones teed up Panarin, whose one-time blast from the left side went in through Rask's legs as well. 

That answered the Bruins' opening goal, also a power-play tally for Boston. 

"We talked about it after the first period," Duchene said. "We had a power play going into the second. We said we have to score to answer. We're down on the power-play goal, so now our power play has to step up. 

"Our power play was a little on and off last game. It was great for us in the Tampa series and a big part of our win, so we need it to be on and it was on tonight." 

3. Bob great again: You need to have a good goaltender to make a long playoff run, and Columbus is getting not just good but great play out of Sergei Bobrovsky so far this postseason. 

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm2: Bobrovsky comes up clutch in overtime

The veteran netminder was at his best in the first overtime, twice denying great chances by Patrice Bergeron. The second of those tries late in the first OT was a true stunner, as Bobrovsky moved to his right to make a stop on Bergeron when he was teed up in the slot. Bobrovsky also made a difficult blocker save on the next shift to keep the game going. 

"He made some huge saves at key times," head coach John Tortorella said. "He's playing at a different level, not just in the playoffs, but the last quarter of the season, he's played at a level I haven't seen him play at." 

Yet Bobrovsky's best save might have come early in overtime and with no one near him. A puck sent down the ice by the Bruins was skipping toward Bobrovsky when it bounce off the ice and took an odd kick to the goalie's left. He had been moving to the right to shepherd the puck away and had to lunge back across his body to keep the puck from going in. 

So, was Bobrovsky's heart in his throat after the odd bounce? 

"A little bit, a little bit," he said after the game. "It's fortunate I was there and I was able to react." 

Duchene said he told teammate Nick Foligno on the bench that not many goaltenders could make that save, and he was right. It speaks to the level of focus Bobrovsky has reached and just how dialed in he is at the moment, and that gives Columbus a chance to win every game from here on out. 

"His best save of the night was on a dump in, which was insane," Duchene said. "Anything is possible with him in net. He's something else." 

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