Tuesday night was what everyone hoped it would be and more in Nationwide Arena.
Another taut, physical, dramatic game in a series that seems like it will be built entirely of them? Check. A Nationwide Arena crowd that seemed determine to will its team to victory? Check. And in the end, a Blue Jackets win that allowed the home team to take a 2-1 lead in this series.
The 2-1 victory was a kind of symbiosis between city and team, with the Columbus faithful rocking the house before the Jackets even took the ice, and the team delivering for the third time in as many home games.
"Coming out for the start of the game, it's just crazy," said Cam Atkinson, who is in his eighth year with the Jackets and appreciates the fever pitch as much as anyone. "I don't even know what to say. It's amazing. We were having our meeting (in the locker room) at the 10-minute mark and I think someone was playing the drums out there. It sounded like the building was going to explode. It's special."
Video: Torts talks about Bob's stellar play
It feels like a dream that CBJ fans have yet to wake up from, yet there are also good, solid hockey reasons why the Jackets are coming away with win after win.
GAME 3 HUB: Highlights, tweets, and news
Here are three observations from the win.
1. Bob. Again. The play of Sergei Bobrovsky is becoming a staple of this section of the website, but what more can you say about the play of the Jackets goaltender?
The man who had been haunted by dissections of his postseason play in past years is now racking up spectacular performance after spectacular performance in the postseason. He lowered his 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs goals-against average to 1.88 with his 36-save showing Tuesday night against the Bruins, and he's now got a save percentage of .943 in this series.
Picking his best save on the evening is like choosing the best Beatles song or the Van Gogh you'd put in your living room. His sprawling, onto-his-back save, with a swat of the puck out of the crease, late in the second was perhaps his most acrobatic, but his best was probably his swallowing up of Patrice Bergeron's high tip off a shot from Torey Krug with just 1:01 to play that kept the Jackets ahead 2-1.
"That's what he does," captain Nick Foligno said. "I've said it all along, Bob has this ability to make the hard saves look easy. He is never out of a puck, and it just gives us confidence."
For his part, Bobrovsky has done all he could to push all of the chatter out of his head. He's a willing participant in postgame interviews, but he's still not going to tell you much. On his saves, he's simply reacting, so it's hard to break down much beyond that.
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And when it comes to whether he's motivated by any previous postseason struggles, there's little insight to be gleaned right now. It's like he's going through the playoffs with blinders on, with the only things that matter being seeing the puck and then stopping it.
"I don't want to think, I don't want to analyze," he said. "I want to be in the moment, enjoy this moment and just play hockey, have fun with the hockey. We've had the unbelievable support from our fans. The atmosphere was crazy. It's so much fun to play. It's a huge win for us."
Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm3: Bobrovsky robs Bergeron on redirection
2. A late response: Hockey games are filled with pivotal moments, and it felt like a worm had turned when Boston scored its lone goal with 39.9 seconds to go in the second period.
The Jackets made it 2-0 midway through the second on a power play and looked primed to pull away, but Boston - as any good team will do - responded, pelting Bobrovsky with pucks in the final moments of the second period. But it looked like the Jackets would get out of the period unscathed until Jake DeBrusk's goal was confirmed upon review late in the period.
The Boston forward cut to the net with speed and tried to stuff a shot through Bobrovsky, but initially it looked like the goaltender had covered it up. But replay showed the puck leaked through his pads and crossed the goal line by no more than in inch, and the goal counted upon review.
So not only had the Jackets given up a goal, but it was a tough one to swallow, and it felt like a momentum changer considering how late it had come in the period.
But instead of panic, Columbus did what it had to do to shut down the Bruins attack in the third period. It wasn't always pretty - the Bruins twice hit the iron in the third - but the Jackets got the game home.
"I don't think that affected us," Tortorella said of the late Boston goal in the second. "We held on with the second half of that third period. People can criticize, say they took their foot off the gas, they're back on their heels, but it's human nature. That team is just taking chance after chance, and you just end up being a little bit safe in certain situations instead of making plays. And we had some nerves.
"We had some nerves, but you know what, we block some shots at the end, our goaltender stood on his head at key times, and we find a way to win the game."
It was the third time in as many home playoff games that Columbus entered the third period with the lead, and the third time the Jackets finished off the win, with the CBJ giving up just one goal combined in those final frames.
"I think we're doing better and better reach time we have the lead," center Matt Duchene said. "We have been able to protect it all three times we've had it here at home. Obviously Bob is big when we need him, but I thought tonight we generated a little bit more in the third period than we have in the past. I thought we were a bit of a punching bag the last two games at home that we're up, and tonight I felt like we did a good job of keeping some momentum and getting some chances as well."
3. Another quiet night: During the regular season, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for 106 goals, more than one per game.
Through three games of this series, the trio has exactly one -- and that was when Charlie Coyle's centering pass happened to hit Pastrnak's skate and hop over Bobrovsky's shoulder in Game 2.
It might be a bit much to say Boston's big guns are getting frustrated, but Marchand's swipe at the back of Scott Harrington's head after Bobrovsky's late save on Bergeron's tip might be a sign of that.
But whatever it is the Jackets are doing is working, as for the second straight series, the team's opponent has been unable to get its big guns on track. Last series, the Lightning's trio of 40-goal scorers combined for just one tally in the entire series, and the Jackets are having similar success this time around.
"We've got to execute better," Bergeron said. "That's the bottom line. The plays that we want to make are there, in a way, but I think we're forcing a lot of them too. We've just got to go back to taking what's there in front of you."