Well, it wasn't going to be easy, was it?
The Blue Jackets stepped onto the ice at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night in Game 4 with a chance to put a firm grasp on their second-round series vs. Boston. Instead, the Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes and held on from there, earning a 4-1 win against Columbus that tied the series at two wins apiece.
Yes, Columbus missed a chance to truly grab hold of the series, but the reality is the Bruins are a proud bunch who weren't going to go without a fight. Two goals from Patrice Bergeron and another from David Pastrnak got Boston's big guns going a bit, though it seems Columbus was bound to give up something to those talented players at some point.
After their big night, Boston now has drawn even, with the expectation that this series could very well go the distance going into Saturday's pivotal Game 5 back in Beantown.
Video: Torts knows the team will bounce back
"This is what we expected from day one, honestly," CBJ captain Nick Foligno said.
Here are three observations from Game 4 between the Bruins and Blue Jackets.
1. Rask rules: Through the first three games, Sergei Bobrovsky was great while Boston goalie Rask was merely very good, and that meant a 2-1 lead for the Jackets in the series. But on Thursday night, Rask was a smidge better, and his 39 saves with just one goal against helped push the Bruins to the win.
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"I thought Rask made some big saves at key times," John Tortorella said after the game.
The Blue Jackets didn't create a ton through the game through the offensive zone cycle, but the Jackets were particularly dangerous on the rush, and it didn't matter what state the game was in.
Boone Jenner created a plethora of scoring chances on his own, including multiple shorthanded tries, while the Jackets also were jumping into the rush in transition to create scoring chances throughout the night at even strength.
But on a night where Bobrovsky was very good with 42 saves of his own, Rask gave up just a single goal and helped ward off the Jackets when the team built momentum at times throughout the game.
Of course, Foligno was more focused on his team's inability to finish rather than the Boston goalie's excellent form.
"I think we just missed on some chances," Foligno said. "I really do. I think nine times out of 10, a lot of guys in those situations, it's in the back of the net. Give (Rask) credit, but we are going to be coming with more on Saturday."
2. Special teams battle: "It was a special teams game," Cam Atkinson said at his locker room stall, repeating the phrase for emphasis.
It was, and it was the other part of the difference other than Rask. The Blue Jackets put themselves on the penalty kill six times, giving up two power-play goals, while the previously scorching CBJ power play went 0-for-4.
Of particular frustration to Tortorella was the number of times the Blue Jackets went to the box, including a couple more offensive zone penalties.
"Too many penalties," Tortorella said after the game. "We don't give ourselves a chance with that."
From there, Boston took advantage. Bergeron scored twice on the power play, including a goal that made it 2-0 early when the Jackets got stretched -- or "over-backchecked," as Foligno put it, with both Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg sucked in low. From there, Marchand's pass out to Bergeron coming down the slot hit him in full flight, and he beat Bobrovsky.
Bergeron added a second PPG with 2:30 to go after Bobrovsky spilled a rebound as well.
"I think it was missed assignments really at the end of the day, and a fluky one (late) that goes through his arm," Foligno said of the penalty kill. "I thought we did a lot of good things. We had how many chances shorthanded, as well?"
Meanwhile, the Jackets' power play was shut out after scoring three times in the last two games. It appeared as though Boston upped the aggressiveness on its penalty kill and was willing to live with the consequences if the Jackets could take advantage, but the final pass or the rebound goal just wasn't there, especially on a power play late in the third when Columbus had it in the offensive zone the entire time but just couldn't get the goal it needed.
"Whoever has the hotter power play that night, it seems like they end up winning," Atkinson said of the series. "They were better on special teams tonight."
3. Jenner-ating offense: Again, Jenner was perhaps the most dangerous Blue Jacket, as he was all over the ice even though he couldn't get another goal after tallying in Game 3.
Video: Jenner says the CBJ need to stay out of the box
Jenner forced Brad Marchand to take him down on a shorthanded chance in the first period, resulting in a penalty shot, though Rask was able to blocker it away. That was just the first of multiple chances Jenner created in transition while shorthanded, as he either used a good stick to create opportunities on the rush or read plays and caught breakout passes from CBJ defensemen.
"He's taken a huge step forward, especially in this series," Atkinson said. "Obviously you know what to expect out of Boone every single game, but last game he really elevated his play and it carried into this game. I'm sure he wanted one or two of those, but he's getting his chances."
Jenner finished with six shots on goal, three hits and a pair of takeaways. He leads the Jackets with 21 shots on goal in the series -- more than five per game.