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Blue Jackets let Game 4 slip away, allow Bruins to even series

Penalties, missed penalty shot, lack of discipline too much to overcome

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- This wasn't a head scratcher or a heartbreaker for the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was the one they let get away.

Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round was about penalties, seven of them leading to six times on the penalty kill, too many regardless of the Grade A chances the Blue Jackets had, the shorthanded penalty shot they missed and the 42 saves they got from Sergei Bobrovsky.

Winning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs requires discipline. The Blue Jackets lost theirs Thursday when they allowed two power-play goals and lost to the Boston Bruins 4-1 at Nationwide Arena. 

 

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

 

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2. Game 5 is at Boston on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). 

"Too many penalties, obviously," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "We don't give ourselves a chance with that." 

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm4: Rask denies Jenner on penalty shot

The Blue Jackets hadn't allowed more than one power-play goal in any of their previous seven playoff games. They were 87.5 percent (14-for-16) on the penalty kill entering the game. They leave 81.8 percent (18-for-22).

Columbus hadn't been shorthanded as many as six times in a game since Oct. 13, the fifth game of the regular season, when it was on the penalty kill seven times in an 8-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It hadn't been shorthanded more than four times in the playoffs.

"I think that we kicked ourselves in the foot," right wing Cam Atkinson said. "It wasn't anything that they were doing. It was our problem."

The biggest problem is the penalties allowed the Bruins top forwards to spring to life after they were mostly dormant in the first three games. 

Patrice Bergeron scored both of Boston's power-play goals. David Pastrnak had an even-strength goal and an assist on Bergeron's second goal. Brad Marchand had an assist on Bergeron's first goal.

Those three forwards, Boston's top three scorers in the regular season, combined for one point, an even-strength goal off Pastrnak's skate in Game 3, and two shots on goal on the power play in the first three games.

"We've kind of prided ourselves on being disciplined and that's the most disappointing part," Tortorella said. "Their top guys score some goals on the power play. We gave them a chance to get going now by just sitting in the box too much. That's the hard part about this game."

Making it even harder is the Blue Jackets could have even gotten away with all the penalties if they had just capitalized on some more of their chances. They had enough, especially shorthanded.

Boone Jenner couldn't score on a shorthanded penalty shot he earned with a takeaway and a hard rush to the net that resulted in Marchand tripping him at 6:52 of the first period, when it was still 1-0 Boston.

Jenner had three more shorthanded scoring chances, and Zach Werenski and Nick Foligno each had one after the Bruins made it 2-0 on Bergeron's power-play goal at 7:18 of the first period.

Video: Bergeron scores twice as Bruins even series

Columbus had six shorthanded shots on goal.

"Well, we're not going to try to win hockey games by playing shorthanded," defenseman Seth Jones said.

Then how about on the power play? They had plenty of chances there but Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask wouldn't let them. He was too good all night, with 39 saves. 

The Blue Jackets had nine shots on goal on their four power plays, including two on four attempts in a pressure-packed 62 seconds late in the first period, plus four on five attempts during a power play late in the third, after Sean Kuraly scored at 8:40 to make it 3-1.

They were 0-for-4 after going a combined 3-for-7 in Games 2 and 3.

"I honestly think the tale of the tape is they scored more power-play goals than we did," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "We both had chances. The last game we did, and they didn't. Tonight it's a different story. We knew special teams was going to be a big part of this, and it was. We just can't take that many penalties. It's not rocket science with what went on in the game."

The Blue Jackets also lamenting missed opportunities at 5-on-5.

There was Atkinson's chance on a redirect of Matt Duchene's terrific diagonal pass on the rush late in the first period. The puck darted off Atkinson's stick and went wide of the right post.

Jenner had a 2-on-1 with Josh Anderson early in the second period and couldn't get off a shot on goal. 

Pierre-Luc Dubois got all post on a shot off the rush midway through the second period. He nearly had a breakaway early in the third, but Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo took it away with a terrific recovery, dive and stick-on-puck check.

Atkinson had another chance off the rush about a minute later, but Rask knocked aside his shot from the right circle.

"We had some good chances, we just didn't score," Tortorella said. "I thought when it was 2-1 we had more than a couple of chances to tie the game. Didn't. I thought Rask made some big saves at key times. 

"The most frustrating part for me is the penalties. Once we got going, then we'd take another."

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