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5 Keys: Bruins at Blue Jackets, Game 6

Boston can advance to conference final with win; Columbus needs more offense from top-six forwards

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer



Boston leads best-of-7 series 3-2

The Boston Bruins can advance to the Eastern Conference Final for third time since 2011 with a win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Nationwide Arena on Monday.

The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and got back to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013. They have won back-to-back games in the series, 4-1 here in Game 4 and 4-3 in Game 5 at TD Garden on Saturday.

If they win Game 6, they will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the conference final.


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


"I hope we have our sense of urgency; I'm sure they will," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I think both teams have had in this series. It's been hard fought."

The Blue Jackets will try to force a series to a Game 7 for the first time in their history.

"We're one game away from being eliminated but we're two games away from going on," Columbus center Matt Duchene said. "That's the way we're choosing to look at it, that glass half-full approach."

Here are 5 keys to Game 6:


1. Dented goalies?

Columbus coach John Tortorella used an interesting term to describe the Blue Jackets scoring three goals on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in a span of 3:25 in the third period of Game 5.

"We dented their goalie," Tortorella said. "I think that was very important. I think they dented our goalie. We dented their goalie in that third period, which is very important going into Game 6."

Rask had a shutout streak of 101:46 end when Seth Jones scored at 10:33 of the third period. He had allowed one goal in the previous 137:50 since Duchene's power-play goal in Game 3.

Meanwhile, the Bruins beat Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for four goals on 46 shots in Game 4 and another four on 36 shots in Game 5. 

It'll be interesting to see if either team can build off the offense it found by "denting" the goalies.


2. Look out for Pastrnak

Bruins forward David Pastrnak looked more comfortable and in control, especially with the puck, in Game 5 than in Game 4, when he scored but was still caught fumbling it around and turning it over. 

Pastrnak scored two goals in the third period. He kept the puck himself on a 4-on-1 rush and beat Bobrovsky with a blocker side shot to make it 3-1 at 11:16. He scored the game-winning goal on a redirect off a pass from Brad Marchand at 18:32.

If Pastrnak stays hot in Game 6, it could be enough to send the Blue Jackets to the offseason.


3. Columbus needs more from top guys

Boston's top-six forwards have scored seven goals in the past two games, including all four in Game 5. In the same time, Columbus' top-six forwards have one goal, from Artemi Panarin in Game 4, a goal that went in after the puck hit the spectator netting.

In fairness, forward Ryan Dzingel was playing with Duchene when he scored at 12:07 of the third period in Game 5, so technically he was in a top-six role. However, it doesn't change the fact that Duchene, Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nick Foligno haven't scored.

Tortorella wants the Blue Jackets to be more aggressive in how they attack.

"I think we need to push it a little bit here and not so much make it east-west, tic-tac-toe plays because there's not going to be any," he said. "The Bruins are going to be in the middle of the ice. It's about pushing it behind them and getting to work there."


4. Blue Jackets power play

The Blue Jackets went 0-for-6 on the power play in Games 4 and 5 after going 3-for-7 in Games 2 and 3. The bigger issue is that they didn't generate momentum from their power plays in the past two games.

Columbus is 6-0 when it scores a power-play goal and 0-3 when it doesn't in the playoffs.


5. McAvoy's impact

Charlie McAvoy has arguably been the Bruins' best defenseman in the series.

He has three assists and a plus-4 rating. He's averaging a team-high 25:47 of ice time and has seven blocked shots, including his gutsy block with his foot on Panarin's one-timer with two seconds remaining in the third period of Game 5.

"It's a full 200-foot game," Cassidy said. "He plays 25 minutes generally against better players and his puck management has been excellent. I can't remember any silly plays that came back at us. That's a sign of maturity. He's been rock solid, steady."


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 -- Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk -- Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Zane McIntyre, Karson Kuhlman, Steven Kampfer, Noel Acciari

Injured: Kevan Miller (lower body), John Moore (upper body)


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Josh Anderson

Ryan Dzingel -- Matt Duchene -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Nick Foligno -- Boone Jenner -- Cam Atkinson

Alexandre Texier -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Markus Hannikainen

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Dean Kukan

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Keith Kinkaid, Andrew Peeke, Lukas Sedlak, Eric Robinson, Alexander Wennberg, Adam Clendening

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


Status report

The Bruins will have the same lineup from Game 5. ... Wennberg did not skate and Hannikainen could make his NHL postseason debut. ... The Blue Jackets went with seven defensemen in Game 5 but are expected to use six in Game 6 with Texier returning after sitting the previous game.


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