By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
For all the talk of dented goaltenders and how it would impact Monday’s Game 6 at Nationwide Arena, Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask did not show a single dent in his Game 6 showing against the Blue Jackets, as he stopped all 39 shots thrown his way en route to a series-clinching victory to push the Bruins into the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2013.
It a first period that saw Boston get outhit by a staggering 24-8 mark according to the in-house stat trackers, the Bruins appeared to strike first behind a Sean Kuraly shot that snuck through Sergei Bobrovsky. But a successful challenge from Tortorella wiped the goal off the board, as the NHL deemed that Joakim Nordstrom’s contact with Bobrovsky prevented the Russian netminder from stopping Kuraly’s chance. (Consistency? Not a thing this time of year, baby.)
But the Bruins made sure the reversal didn’t doom them, as David Krejci broke the stalemate with a second-period bomb through Bobrovsky to give Boston a 1-0 edge at the 12:13 mark of the period.
It was a goal the Bruins desperately needed, too, as the Blue Jackets simply dominated the Black and Gold in the middle frame, with 17 shots (but zero goals) on Rask. The 32-year-old Rask also got some much-needed help from the posts, too, as both Dean Kukan and Josh Anderson had looks denied by Rask’s shiny red friends.
If there was a chance for this game to flip on its head, though, it came in the final minute of the second period, as Charlie McAvoy absolutely blasted Anderson with a vicious hit that ended with some contact to Anderson’s head.
McAvoy only gets two minutes for this. Wow. pic.twitter.com/5c1XtSetR4— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 7, 2019
It wasn’t McAvoy’s intent to level Anderson upstairs, but there was undeniable contact. And it left everybody unsure as to how the on-ice officials would rule the contact, especially given their struggles throughout the night. Would they slap McAvoy, who was undoubtedly Boston’s top defender, with a five-minute elbowing major or match penalty and the door for Columbus’ power-play to get themselves back on track and potentially change the complexion of this game and series?
There was absolutely no way of knowing because, well y’know, the NHL.
But McAvoy and the Bruins got off with a two-minute minor, killed it off, and found insurance behind third-period strikes from Marcus Johansson and David Backes within a 1:41 stretch.
The goals were leaky at best, and only further cemented the idea that Rask was the better goaltender in this series.
It would be all Rask and the Bruins needed, too, as Rask refused to give the Blue Jackets any glimmer of hope, and finished with stops on all 12 third-period shots fired on goal, and with Columbus’ net empty for the final three minutes of play.
Up next for the Bruins? The Hurricanes, who are in the third round after sweeping their second-round series against the Islanders, and come into the third round riding the wave of energy behind first-year NHL head coach Rod Brind’Amour.