Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Columbus Blue Jackets

Game 5 practice report: Jackets think scoring will come

Columbus created chances in Game 4, just has to finish them

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

The Blue Jackets have been here before. 

Despite being the highest-scoring team in franchise history, there were stretches of the season when the team felt like it was playing well and just not scoring goals. 

It's hockey, after all, and that will happen. It will especially happen in a tight playoff series when the opposing goaltender is dialed in and time and space disappear quicker than the soft pretzels in the TD Garden press box. 

Video: It's time to pull ahead

The key is to stay the course. If you're getting chances -- and the Jackets had 24 scoring chances in Game 4, head coach John Tortorella said, despite the 4-1 loss -- eventually they'll go in. 

"Honestly, I don't feel like anyone is frustrated in here," captain Nick Foligno said ahead of Saturday night's Game 5 in Boston. "It just comes with two good goalies. It's par for the course, and knowing that, when you do get opportunities, you have to really bear down." 

PLAYOFF CENTRAL: Your one-stop location for news, notes, videos, and more

So far in a series that is split at two wins apiece, Columbus has scored eight goals in the four games, just behind Boston's 10. Coming off a 39-save performance in Game 4, Boston goalie Tuukka Rask has posted a .942 save percentage, while Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky isn't far behind at .934. 

That's playoff hockey, though, and things aren't going to be easy. At the same time, a CBJ team that averaged 3.12 goals per game in the regular season and then tallied 19 while dispatching Tampa Bay in a four-game sweep thinks it can and will produce more on the score sheet.  

"I thought we developed quite a bit of offense," Tortorella said. "I thought both teams developed more offense in that game than two of the (previous) games put together in this series because there just seemed to be more ice in Game 4 for both teams.  

GAME 5 HUB: Highlights, tweets, and news

"We don't spend too much time worrying about, we didn't get that goal or this goal. We had some great opportunities, but give credit to Rask. He played a really good game." 

It might come down to getting more players going. So far in the series, Artemi Panarin has three goals and Matt Duchene has two, both on the power play. But leading regular-season goal scorer Cam Atkinson, who tied a Jackets record with 41 tallies this year, has yet to get on the board vs. the Bruins, and three other players -- Josh Anderson, Ryan Dzingel and Oliver Bjorkstrand -- had at least 20 goals in the regular season but have zero vs. Boston. 

Those players have had their chances vs. Boston, but they just haven't gone in. Just like the Bruins' top line in Game 4, though, if the chances keep coming, the Jackets think they will eventually capitalize. 

"We watched a little bit of tape and we did a lot of good things," Atkinson said. "I thought overall we had a lot better looks than the first couple of games. It's tough to score 5-on-5 goals against t hem. I'm sure they're saying the same thing about us. We held on to the puck a lot more in the offensive zone and it showed." 

Lineup notes: Sticking with his postseason policy, Tortorella did not give any updates on the lineup before Game 5, but two players who are battling injuries -- forward Riley Nash and defenseman Markus Nutivaara -- did not take part in the morning skate. Nash missed Game 4 with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day, while Nutivaara has been out with an upper-body injury since the Tampa Bay series. 

The team used the same forward lines as Game 4 in the morning. Tortorella was asked about the ice time for the line of Alexander Wennberg centering Alexandre Texier and Dzingel -- all three finished with less than 10 minutes in Game 4 -- and said that was a product of the penalty-filled nature of the game, a third of which was spent with the teams on special teams. 

"The game kind of dictated some of that because of so many penalties, and things change," Tortorella said. "We'll see where the game goes and we'll go about it." 

Boston appears set to enter Chris Wagner, who played in the first two games, for Noel Acciari on its fourth line. Acciari, who scored a shorthanded goal in Game 1, did not practice Saturday. 

Critical game: According to the NHL, when a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 owns an all-time series record of 207-57 (78.4 percent), including a 2-2 mark this season. 

So while Game 5 isn't a must-win, it sure as heck is a "you'd like to win." 

"It's going to make for a fun game," Foligno said.  

As the series has balanced on a knife's edge throughout, Tortorella said he's focused as much on staying out of the way as anything else. 

"I think as any series goes on and you're playing against the same guys, coaches have given you all the damn tendencies over and over again," he said. "I think it's the players' game anyway, but it becomes more of the players' game. We talked as far as our meeting -- how many damn things can we say? We've played them four straight games, plus three other times in the regular season the last month. It's redundant." 

View More