WHAT. A. GAME.
Saturday night saw another epic battle between two very good hockey teams as the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins saw their Eastern Conference Semifinal series bleed into overtime for the second time in as many games.
This time, the Blue Jackets were the team left alone celebrating on the ice as Matt Duchene beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask five-hole 3:42 into double overtime for the 3-2 win. The Jackets now head back to Nationwide Arena with home-ice advantage in the series, tied at one game each.
Bread, Bob Put the Team on Their Backs
It seems weird to think that not too long ago, Blue Jackets fans in large numbers were calling on the team to trade goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin. It's long been assumed that the two plan to sign with new teams this summer, but general manager Jarmo Kekalainen held onto his pair of Russian stars instead of getting something out of them prior to the trade deadline.
Game 2 was a testament to why Kekalainen kept them.
Panarin had the two Blue Jackets goals in regulation, both of them pretty, but the second one truly a jaw-dropper as he beat Rask top shelf from a ridiculous angle to tie the game at two eight minutes into the second.
Nobody has any business making that shot.
Nobody but Artemi Panarin. With the two goals and an assist tonight, Panarin has 4–5–9 to lead the Blue Jackets in playoff scoring. The 1.50 points per game are fourth in the league in the postseason and his points in six-straight games is a Blue Jackets club record.
As for Bobrovsky, he was spectacular again, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he saw, and continuing to rewrite the old “Playoff Bob” narrative to “Hell, yeah. Playoff Bob!”
That was Bobrovsky pretty much the entirety of the third period, protecting a tie game for the Blue Jackets and getting it into overtime where they had a chance to win it. He's now 5–1 with a .929 Sv% and a 2.16 GAA in the postseason.
Seth Jones' Coming Out Party
Blue Jackets fans have appreciated Seth Jones for a while. He's one of the game's best blueliners and might have won the Norris Trophy last season had he played in a bigger market.
Now, the hockey world at large is finding out just how good the 6-foot-4 Mr. Dependable is.
Seth Jones might be the best defenseman in the NHL. Checks every box. Strong both ways, physical, composed, shot, power play QB, size, skating, responsible. A tower for Columbus.— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) April 28, 2019
Jones led all players with 38:01 of ice time – nearly five minutes more than anyone on either team and was his smooth, steadying presence all night long for the Blue Jackets. Need a puck cleared? Call Seth. Need that puck held in the offensive zone? Call Seth.
He assisted on the Blue Jackets' final two goals of the evening and his move to draw a trip on Boston's Patrice Bergeron in double overtime led to the winner.
Welcome to the Seth Jones Appreciation Society, America.
Dutchy Does It (Again)
Matt Duchene waited his entire 10-year career for a meaningful playoff run and now that he has one, he's making the most of it. You could see his emotion as he fired up the home crowd following a four-point showing in Game 3 of the Tampa Bay series.
He's enjoying every minute of this ride.
Saturday night, he put another huge stamp on his Columbus Blue Jackets experience, scoring the first playoff overtime game-winner of his life.
The goal was his fourth of the postseason and he's second on his team with eight points in six games. He, along with Panarin and Jones, all rank in the league's top eight for points per playoff game.
“We can't wait to get home,” he said following the win. Home is what fans hope to hear him say more and more as the team looks to re-sign him this summer.
The Blue Jackets and Bruins meet for Game 3 at Nationwide Arena Tuesday. The puck drops at 7 p.m.