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Second Round

Bruins' top scorers shut down again in Game 3 loss to Blue Jackets

No points for Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak; Columbus takes series lead

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- When Karson Kuhlman -- an undrafted forward with 11 NHL regular-season games to his credit -- had an assist for the Boston Bruins in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, he equaled the combined production in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Second Round from Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak

Columbus leads the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is Thursday at Nationwide Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The Bruins' most-used top line group has one point in the series, a goal that inadvertently deflected off the skate of Pastrnak in Game 2. 

 

[RELATED: Blue Jackets hold off Bruins in Game 3 | Complete series coverage]

 

Though there have been chances, mostly notably for Bergeron, the line has not been able to finish. 

Credit surely goes to Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets' all-world goalie. But even with his exceptional play, it's something the Bruins need to address.

"We were able to generate some stuff," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They've just got to stay with it. I know they haven't scored and we're going to need them to score. But we've found other ways to win other games without them hitting the score sheet. And that's what we're going to have to do until they do."

That's not to say the Bruins were entirely without opportunities. They rang iron three times in the game, two posts (Charlie McAvoy, Noel Acciari) and one crossbar (Brandon Carlo). They made life difficult at times for Bobrovsky, though did not take enough advantage of their two power-play chances, the latter of which they ended with a penalty of their own 16 seconds in. 

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm3: Bruins get no luck from the post

They got four shots on goal from Bergeron, topped only by the five from David Krejci. That included one 2:50 into the first period, when Bergeron got a chance in close on Bobrovsky. He had another redirect off Torey Krug that the goalie trapped between his pads.

But there were no goals. There were no points. 

And that is where the Bruins need more, having been mostly pushed to this point by some unexpected depth scoring, from Charlie Coyle, from Marcus Johansson, from their fourth line. 

"Is it sustainable? I don't know," Cassidy said, of continuing to lack production from his top scorers. "I can't predict the future. I'd like to think they're going to have to score. Obviously, some of that starts on the power play. We had one that was not very good - the second one, we got taken off it, so that's not even really a power play. 

"We're going to have to figure something out as a group."

The postseason numbers don't look awful. Marchand has 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists), Pastrnak has 7 (3 goals, 4 assists), and Bergeron has 5 (3 goals, 2 assists). But none of those three has been consistent, and virtually none of that production has come in the three games of the second round. 

That has been especially true for Pastrnak, who started the game on the third line with Coyle and Johansson, in attempt to lighten his defensive load and jumpstart his game. He was returned to the first line, with Bergeron and Marchand, at the start of the third period. 

"He's trying to get inside," Cassidy said. "He's trying to score goals, play his game, still be a good 200-foot player in other areas. [Pastrnak]'s going to play with [Bergeron] at some point in the game. It's inevitable, generally speaking, unless everyone's going perfect."

Video: Marchand's penalty proves to be costly for Bruins

The first shot of the game from Pastrnak came 2:53 into the third. He would finish with three, and two more attempts that were blocked. He went into the boards hard at one point, tangling with Dean Kukan and wincing when he got up, but he finished with 18:01 on ice, and got better in the third period.

"I just try to stay with it and just try to battle," Pastrnak said. "We lost two games in a row, it's tough. I don't want to really talk about myself. It's a team sport. I'm not focusing on if I score a goal or not. Obviously there is a lot of stuff you can help the team and I'm doing my best."

Part of the problem is that the Bruins can't seem to get their power play going against the Blue Jackets. They are 1-for-10 in the series, after going 7-for-16 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

"We've got to execute better," Bergeron said. "That's the bottom line. The plays that we want to make are there, in a way, but I think we're forcing a lot of them too. We've just got to go back to taking what's there in front of you."

They're not alone. Jake DeBrusk, who scored the Boston goal on a scrum in front of the net at 19:20 of the second period, has been struggling to get back his scoring touch from the regular season, when he had 27 goals. He has two goals in the playoffs.

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm3: DeBrusk puts Bruins on the board

Perhaps the fact that he got a goal in Game 3 might get him going. Perhaps the good chances for the top line might get them going. That's the hope for all of them as the Bruins try to prevent themselves from going down another game in the series on Thursday. 

And, to this point, at least they've been sustained by their depth scoring - something that wasn't there at all in reaching the second round last season, when the opposite problem dogged them in the playoffs. 

"It's tough," DeBrusk said. "Other teams see that as well and they see how dominant they were in the regular season and pre-scout them just like we pre-scout their lines. Obviously, they would like to get going - myself included - and try to help out. But we've seen it all these playoffs. The depth is leading this team and we were a couple inches away tonight. 

"Take the positives and learn from the negatives."  

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