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5 Keys: Bruins at Blue Jackets, Game 4

Boston hoping to get more from top line; Columbus focused on staying physical

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer


7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS

Blue Jackets lead best-of-7 series 2-1

The Columbus Blue Jackets will play a game in May for the first time when they host Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

"I don't even know what day it is, I'm just getting ready for Game 4," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We live under a rock right now. As far as May, June, September, I don't care what day it is, I know it's Game 4 tonight."


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


The Blue Jackets, who are in the second round for the first time, improved to 3-0 at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 win in Game 3 on Tuesday. They won 3-2 in double-overtime in Game 2 at TD Garden on Saturday after losing 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 in Boston on April 25.

Here are 5 keys to Game 4:


1. Bruins must stay disciplined

The Bruins can talk about taking away options, staying in their structure and doing a better job of getting clears on the penalty kill, but the best way to counter the Blue Jackets' power play is to stay out of the penalty box.

Columbus is 3-for-7 on the power play in the past two games and 8-for-21 (38.1 percent) in the playoffs. Five of its six game-winning goals in the postseason have come with the man-advantage, including one from center Matt Duchene in each of the past two games.


2. Boston needs more from power play

One way for Boston center Patrice Bergeron and forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to get going is for them to find some success on the power play. On the Bruins' 10 power plays in the series, Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak have combined for zero points and two shots on goal, one each by Bergeron and Pastrnak in Game 1.

The Bruins have gotten one point in the series from their top three scorers during the regular season, a goal by Pastrnak in Game 2 that went in off his skate.


3. Blue Jackets' physicality

Physical play and big hits have been staples of the first three games of the series. The Blue Jackets have welcomed it and carried most of the physical play in Game 3, when they were credited with 53 hits to the Bruins' 28.

Columbus believes the more it bumps, grinds, chips and hits Boston, the better its chances. The Bruins have played three more games in the playoffs, and the longer this series goes the more tired and worn out they could become, especially if the Blue Jackets stay physical.


4. Limit second-chance opportunities

Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has played well (.943 save percentage in the series) and the Blue Jackets for the most part have done a good job in front of him. But there were instances in Games 2 and 3 when the Bruins could have cashed in on second-chance opportunities in front of the net.

Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo suggested after Game 3 that Bobrovsky eventually will crack.

Columbus doesn't believe that will happen, but some extra help in front of the net in clearing those opportunities will go a long way toward ensuring a positive result.

"I still think we're doing a lot of good things to keep them to the outside, so a lot of their second chances are still outside shots," Blue Jackets forward and captain Nick Foligno said. "We're understanding that's an area you never want to give a team life in."

Video: Bobrovsky makes 36 saves in Game 3 win against Bruins


5. Blinding Bob with Backes

Bruins forward David Backes will return after being scratched the past five games. He will play on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Backes is coming into the series, replacing Karson Kuhlman, because of his ability to get in front of the net to screen Bobrovsky and deflect shots. He also brings an element of physicality, and because he's fresh the hope is he'll provide some energy.

"Hopefully I find myself on top of that [blue] paint for extended periods of times with little black pucks flying by me, try to get tips and rebounds and screens," Backes said. "It's no secret how you score this time of year and I want to be part of that."


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Backes

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Danton Heinen

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk -- Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Chris Wagner, John Moore, Zane McIntyre, Karson Kuhlman

Injured: Kevan Miller (lower body)


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno -- Matt Duchene -- Josh Anderson

Ryan Dzingel -- Alexander Wennberg -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Brandon Dubinsky -- Boone Jenner -- Riley Nash

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Dean Kukan -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Adam Clendening

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Andrew Peeke, Markus Hannikainen, Vladislav Gavrikov, Lukas Sedlak, Eric Robinson, Alexandre Texier

Injured: Ryan Murray (upper body), Adam McQuaid (upper body), Markus Nutivaara (upper body)


Status report

Tortorella said Thursday that Nutivaara remains unavailable. The defenseman was injured after being boarded by Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning at 15:34 of third period in Game 2 of the first round.


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