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Second Round

Bruins brace for desperate Blue Jackets heading into Game 6

Boston one win from Eastern Conference Final

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BEDFORD, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have a chance to end the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets with a win in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The Blue Jackets, who trail the best-of-7 series 3-2, expect to force a Game 7. Columbus coach John Tortorella said after the Bruins' 4-3 win in Game 5 on Saturday that "we'll be back here for Game 7."

The Bruins wouldn't expect the rhetoric from the other side to be any different.

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

"Yeah, I mean if I was in his shoes I'd be saying the same thing," Bruins forward Charlie Coyle said before boarding a flight to Columbus at Hanscom Field. "Yeah, their backs are against the wall and in their mind they're going to be playing a Game 7. I think anyone in his position would be doing the same thing.

"Like I said before, they're going to have their best game, they're going to come out hard, their backs are against the wall, that's how you always play good. So we know what's coming from them and we know what we've got to bring."

The Bruins came back from 3-2 down in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, so they know what the Blue Jackets are up against. Avoiding a Game 7 starts with the proper mindset.

Video: Bruins' top line makes difference again in Game 5 win

"I think we're just going to approach this game the way we approached the games before this one," Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom said. "Obviously we know what's at stake, but like I said, you don't want to look too far ahead." 

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy would like to see Boston's defense tighten up. In the third period of Game 5, Boston led 2-0 and 3-1 before the Blue Jackets tied the game 3-3 with 6:02 remaining. Forward David Pastrnak's goal with 1:28 left was the difference. 

"The start of the series they were playing behind us a lot," Cassidy said. "And then all of a sudden now they're a little more attack-oriented 1-on-1, they're willing to challenge our D 1-on-1," Cassidy said. "So we just have to understand where we want to put them. If your gap is good, or even with the forward [back checking], usually you can dictate where you want them to go with a good stick, keep them to the outside. They've gotten inside on us a few times for some really good chances.

"And then our forwards can help with back pressure on those as well. If they tighten the gap on how much room they have to get inside, with good back pressure, then they won't be able to make those moves, it'll have to be outside, it'll be chips and shots from outside the dots."

After scoring six goals in the first three games of this series, the Bruins have scored four goals in each of the past two games. It hasn't been just a matter of solving Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky but also avoiding the Blue Jackets' shot-blockers. Columbus blocked 19 or more shots in each of the first three games but has blocked 15 and 18 in Game 4 and 5, respectively.

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm5: Pastrnak redirects late go-ahead goal

"Just good hockey sense," Coyle said. "You've got a lot of guys going down, so that's a fake shot, moving the puck quick. I think when they go down sometimes seams open up and they get out of the play. So it's a thing we can look at and it's just a situational thing, I think."

The Bruins head into Game 6 relatively healthy. Cassidy said defenseman Charlie McAvoy should be fine after blocking an Artemi Panarin shot in the closing seconds of Game 5. And forward Noel Acciari is day to day after missing Game 5 with an upper-body injury.

The Bruins want to return to Boston victorious in this series, not for a Game 7.

"We'll be ready to play tomorrow. I found this series, the team that plays the best, manages the puck the best, tends to win the game," Cassidy said. "So that'll be our goal in Game 6."

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