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Blue Jackets 'not surprised' to be leading Bruins in second round

Columbus looks to continue to live up to its capability in Game 4 against Boston

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- This feeling, this camaraderie and chemistry, love of each other and winning, it's what Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno had heard all about.

Foligno used to pick the brains of his former teammates who had been part of special runs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Everything they said is everything he's feeling and seeing now with the Blue Jackets leading 2-1 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round against the Boston Bruins following a 2-1 win in Game 3 at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

"It seems the love for one another is what they talk about, that any guy will do anything at any moment to try and help the team win," Foligno said. "I think you're seeing that out of this group. No one cares about the glory, it's just how is our team going to get it."

 

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

 

The Blue Jackets have become the team they thought they could when they went all-in at the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, acquiring forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel in separate trades with the Ottawa Senators and kept pending unrestricted free agents Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

They have won six of seven games in the playoffs and 13 of 15 overall since March 24. 

"I'm not surprised," Duchene said. "This is definitely what we're capable of. Tonight was our best game of the series for sure."

Boone Jenner became Columbus' 14th player to score a goal in the playoffs when he made it 1-0 at 18:37 of the first period, capitalizing on a solo rush after flipping the puck to himself to get around Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton and scoring far side from the left hash marks.

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm3: Jenner buries wrister from the slot

Jenner also led the Blue Jackets with five shots on goal and had three hits and three blocks.

"That's the best I've seen him play since I've been here," said Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who was hired on Oct. 21, 2015.

Duchene scored his team-leading fifth goal of the playoffs when he converted on the power play at 12:42 of the second to make it 2-0. It was a rebound goal similar to his winner in the second overtime in Game 2, off excellent passing and shooting and grunt work and wall play and keep-ins, everything a good power play needs.

"It's a good marriage for us," Tortorella said of Duchene.

Bobrovsky made 36 saves in yet another sublime performance, giving him 99 saves on 105 shots in the series for a .943 save percentage.

"He's played that well," Tortorella said. "I think when teams find a way to win games like this, playoff games where the teams are so evenly matched and there are surges both ways, your goaltender has to be your best player and he has been."

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm3: Bobrovsky lays out for great save

Fifteen of Columbus' 18 skaters had a shot on goal and the Blue Jackets outhit the Bruins 53-28, with everyone but Panarin getting at least one. Seth Jones had five blocked shots and Scott Harrington had three.

The Blue Jackets were 2-for-2 on the penalty kill, but they spent only 2:17 killing because Josh Anderson negated a Boston power play at 11:35 of the third period with a shorthanded rush to the net that led to a Patrice Bergeron tripping penalty. 

Columbus is 9-for-10 on the penalty kill in the series and 3-for-11 on the power play.

"I'm just so happy for the guys," Foligno said. "We've been through a lot as a group here. We've been doubted. There's been a lot that has gone on here. What is this team going to be? How is it going to go? You're seeing guys just throw it all behind them and just play and have fun and become a team. As the leader on the team, that's something I'm most proud of, more than anything, just seeing how we're coming together as a group here, having a blast and pulling for each other. … After goals, after wins, guys are just pumped for each other. When you have that, that's a dangerous thing to have. It's something we need to keep building on each game."

The next step is to park the celebration when they arrive for practice Wednesday so they can do it all over again in Game 4 in Columbus on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). 

"That's a huge opportunity for us," Duchene said.

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

In previous years, the opportunity would have led to a worry about overconfidence, about forgetting to leave a victory in the rearview so they could focus on the next game. 

It happened last season when they went up 2-0 in the first round against the Washington Capitals. They lost the next four.

It's not a concern this year, not after sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round and winning two in a row against Boston after losing Game 1 in overtime.

"As we've played more playoff games as an organization the past two years, that's what we're beginning to learn, especially right now," Tortorella said. "The next few hours, [darn] right, you should feel 10 feet tall, but when we come back to the building tomorrow and get back to work, this is where I think our team has made some tremendous strides in understanding just flatline a little bit here and get ready for our next game."

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