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Second Round

Blue Jackets view Game 6 against Bruins as opportunity, not adversity

Dismiss talk of pressure facing potential elimination from playoffs

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Nick Foligno appropriately shrugged and half-heartedly chuckled when the word adversity was mentioned after the Columbus Blues Jackets' 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 5 at TD Garden on Saturday.

"This is going to allow us to showcase that we're a team that's grown," Foligno said.

Adversity for the Blue Jackets and their captain isn't trailing 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Second Round and going home to play Game 6 of the best-of-7 series at Nationwide Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).


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


Adversity for the Blue Jackets was having to battle demons threatening to invade their dressing room all season because of the uncertainty about forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Would they be staying put? Would they go to battle for their teammates if they did?

Adversity was Columbus having to battle to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the final two weeks of the season after they kept Panarin and Bobrovsky and then went all-in before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen putting the pressure on the Blue Jackets to make good on those gifts. They went 7-1-0 in their last eight games and clinched a playoff berth April 5, the penultimate day of the regular season.

Adversity for Foligno was having to leave the Blue Jackets twice in the regular season to be with his ailing children, 5-year-old daughter Milana who needed open heart surgery Dec. 31 and 1-year-old son Hudson who was hospitalized March 11 because of pneumonia and four days later had a collapsed lung.

"What we go through isn't pressure," Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski said earlier in the series. "What he went through as a family, that's pressure. What he went through is some serious stuff."

But in hockey parlance, with a dressing room full of perspective, the Blue Jackets are in a serious situation now, their promising season on the brink of ending, the need to win their first literal must-win game of the season to push the series back to Boston for Game 7 on Wednesday.

Columbus coach John Tortorella predicted it will happen after Game 5, saying, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

Tortorella said the same thing last year after the Blue Jackets lost Game 5 to the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena. They didn't get back to Washington for Game 7, losing Game 6 at home 6-3.

When Foligno talks about Game 6 against Boston as an opportunity to show the Blue Jackets have grown, he's also referring to what happened last season against the Capitals.

"It's disappointing [to lose Game 5], but you just move past it because you know you have a great opportunity in front of us," Foligno said. "In front of our fans, at home, we should be ready to rock."

The Blue Jackets were trying to show their growth late Saturday, in the immediate aftermath of a loss that could have left them devastated.

They finally solved Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, scoring three goals in a span of 3:25 midway through the third period. They came back from down 3-1 to tie the game 3-3, only to give up the game-winning goal with 1:28 remaining. They had a shot hit the post with 43 seconds left and one that tickled the goal line but never crossed 28 seconds later.

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm5: Bruins, Blue Jackets race to the finish

"We're fine," defenseman Seth Jones said, head held as high as if the Blue Jackets had won the game. "It's one game, right? They have a 3-2 lead on us. Game 6 is in our building. It puts us in a good spot for six."

Added Foligno, with his head held just as high: "I'm not going to dwell on it because you just can't. So we're just going to move forward. It is what it is at this point. We just have to get ready to win Game 6. We would have had to win it anyway."

Defiance or confidence? For the Blue Jackets, it's both. 

They are 3-1 at home in the playoffs this season. They know Nationwide Arena will be packed and loud. It was for Game 5, when 13,187 paid to enter the building to watch the game on the scoreboard. 

They've already defeated Boston twice in the series. In Game 5, they jumbled the forward lines and found three that worked well enough to finally create offense and goals against Rask out of desperation. They discovered rookie defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, who made his NHL debut, should be playing, maybe even in a top-four role.

"We've got to pick up where we left off next game," Columbus forward Matt Duchene said. "That's the biggest thing. We need to start [Game 6] the way we finished [Game 5]."

They need to prove themselves again, to show that everything they've been through, all the growth they've showed this season, can be channeled into one game.

This isn't adversity. This is an opportunity.

"There's just no quit in this room," Foligno said.


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