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Kuraly Comes Up Big Again

Forward delivers with another crucial postseason tally

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - At this point, there is no reason to be surprised.

Through three seasons with the Bruins, Sean Kuraly's knack for coming through in the big moments has become the norm rather than the exception.

"I find myself just getting lost in some of these games that are important and just enjoying them really. Sometimes you just find yourself playing hockey again," said Kuraly, whose latest tally was a crucial insurance marker at 8:40 of the third period to help Boston to a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Thursday night.

Here's a look back at some of his other memorable goals:

April 21, 2017 | Kuraly scored his first two career NHL goals - the tying goal in the third period and the winner in double overtime - to lift Boston to a 3-2 victory over Ottawa to force Game 6 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was in this game that his now patented Kura-leap celebration was born.

Video: BOS@OTT, Gm5: Kuraly nets two, keeps Bruins alive

April 12, 2018 | In his first full season in the NHL, Kuraly notched an insurance tally midway through the third period to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead in an eventual 5-1 victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 1 of last year's first round.

Video: TOR@BOS, Gm1: Kuraly smacks puck in out of midair

Jan. 1, 2019 | Kuraly backhanded a rebound by Chicago goalie Cam Ward with 9:40 remaining in the NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium. The goal put Boston ahead, 3-2, and proved to be the winner in the B's 4-2 victory. It was his second consecutive game-winning goal, after having picked up another winner just two days earlier in Buffalo.

Video: BOS@CHI: Kuraly nets rebound in front for 3-2 lead

April 23, 2019 | With the Bruins clinging to a one-goal lead early in the third period, Kuraly broke into the Toronto zone and ripped a wrister by Frederik Andersen to put Boston ahead 3-1 in Game 7. Boston went on to a 5-1 victory and advanced to play Columbus.

Video: TOR@BOS, Gm7: Kuraly pots one top shelf on the rush

"In playoff time, that's when you need your depth, you need all four lines going. He's been a big reason why we're in the position we're in right now…he's been big for our group, he's scored some big goals," said Brad Marchand.

"He's not nervous in those big situations. He seems to be calm and focused and wants to do his job and make a difference. He's been a big player for our group all year.

Kuraly, who was playing in front of family and friends in his native Ohio on Thursday night, has six goals in just 23 career playoff games to go along with 14 goals in 154 regular-season contests.

"He just has a knack for the moment," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "There's always a guy or two that seems to thrive on this time of year. He's still young in his career, but he's done a real good job for us. His numbers certainly translate much higher in the playoffs than they do in the regular season."

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm4: Kuraly beats Bobrovsky from doorstep

Back-es In Business

Kuraly wasn't the only role player to come through in Game 4. David Backes, who had been a healthy scratch since Game 6 of Boston's first-round series with the Maple Leafs, was back in the lineup and - as he did in Game 2 against Toronto - made an immediate impact.

Backes drew two penalties, delivered a team-high five hits, and picked up the secondary assist on Kuraly's third-period goal, while playing a tad over 10 minutes.

"I thought he had a strong game, good on forechecks, smart with the puck," said David Krejci, who played with Backes and Jake DeBrusk. "He did lots of little things, like helping me on the faceoff and those 50-50 battles. He won a couple for me in the O-zone, got the puck to JD and had a great shot. Those little things go a long way. It was good to see him back and play the way he played."

The veteran winger was knocked from the game briefly midway through the first period when he took a Dean Kukan elbow to the chin. Backes went to the dressing room with help from trainer Don DelNegro, but returned shortly thereafter and drew another penalty - an interference call on Adam Clendening - in the second period.

As he spoke to the media on Friday morning, Cassidy said while he had not seen Backes yet, "I assume he's feeling well. He finished the game, played hard. Hopefully good to go [for Saturday]."

Thus, Cassidy seemed to confirm that Backes would be back in the lineup for Game 5.

"I thought he did his job well," said Cassidy. "That's one of the things I do believe David has…Karson Kuhlman is younger, he's more of a motor guy that can adjust on the fly and give us that energy level after sitting. David's a little more intangible, his physicality, some of the leadership skills that are a little bit behind the scenes on the bench and in the room that go unnoticed at times but are still important."

Settle It Down

Despite two power-play goals (both from Patrice Bergeron) on six opportunities in Game 4, Boston once again allowed a number of shorthanded chances with some sloppy puck handling high in the Columbus end. As such, Cassidy made an adjustment by swapping out David Pastrnak for Krejci in an attempt to settle the unit down.

"One thing Krech does as well as anybody in the National Hockey League is he's got great composure with the puck," said Cassidy, who admitted to being hesitant to make too many personnel changes to either power-play unit. "So, when it goes over to his side, pretty good chance he's going to make a good decision with it…that was the thinking behind it."

Krejci was adamant that the Bruins must shore things up quickly on the man advantage.

"That shouldn't happen, that just shouldn't happen," said Krejci. "We'll look at some video and correct those mistakes...once in a while, obviously, that happens. But I think they had more than one or two odd-man rushes on our power play. That can't happen again."

Video: Krejci looking ahead to big Game 5

Looking for Moore

Defenseman John Moore has not played since Game 7 against the Maple Leafs because of an upper-body injury and remains day-to-day, per Cassidy. Connor Clifton has played in his place and will stay in the lineup as long as he plays well.

"He's not 100 percent, so we decided to go with Clifton because of that," said Cassidy. "We'll see how it plays out going forward. He'll be evaluated before every game to see what the best decision is for the team. I know I'm giving you a stock answer, but that's where he's at. So he could play, but as long as Clifton plays well then Johnny gets an extra day or two, and I think it benefits everyone."

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