It finally happened.
After starting the postseason 6–1, sweeping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round and stealing home ice from Boston to start their Eastern Conference Semifinals series, Columbus laid an egg in Game 4.
There were the defensive zone breakdowns, the penalties, struggles breaking out of the zone, the penalties, getting worked on faceoffs, the penalties, and a really good goalie in Tuukka Rask on the other side. But it was mostly about the penalties.
|ONE, ECQF||TAMPA BAY||8||3–3||W, 4-3|
|TWO, ECQF||TAMPA BAY||19||2–2||W, 5-1|
|THREE, ECQF||TAMPA BAY||4||0–0||W, 3-1|
|FOUR, ECQF||TAMPA BAY||2||0–1||W, 7-3|
|ONE, ECSF||BOSTON||8||4–4||L, 3-2 (OT)|
|TWO, ECSF||BOSTON||8||3–4||W, 3-2 (OT)|
|THREE, ECSF||BOSTON||4||2–2||W, 2-1|
|FOUR, ECSF||BOSTON||22||4–6||L, 4-1|
“The most frustrating part for me is the penalties,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said after the game. “I just felt once we got going, then we take another penalty.”
Columbus entered Game 4 having allowed just two power-play goals in seven playoff games, successfully killing 14-of-16 man advantages from Tampa Bay and Boston. Thursday night, they gave the Bruins six power plays and Boston converted two of them.
And that was the difference in the game.
It didn't take long for the Bruins to punish the Blue Jackets for sloppy play. At 6:38 of the opening period, Alexandre Texier was whistled for tripping Boston defenseman Torey Krug in the Blue Jackets' offensive zone. Forty seconds into the power play, Patrice Bergeron beat Sergei Bobrovsky from the high slot to make it 2-0.
Two minutes later, Artemi Panarin would cut Boston's lead in half, but Josh Anderson was called for hooking David Pastrnak on the ensuing faceoff, killing any momentum the Blue Jackets had.
And on it went.
The Blue Jackets racked up 22 penalty minutes in Game 4, the most of any game for Columbus this postseason. The total was just three off the 25 penalty minutes Columbus took in a Dec. 22 game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Jackets' high mark for penalties on the season.
The disciplined team that used special teams to their advantage in the first six games of the playoffs repeatedly took bad penalties. Pierre-Luc Dubois' holding call with four minutes remaining was the final blow, leading to a Patrice Bergeron goal to put the game out of reach.
“Special teams are always a big part of the game, a big part of the series,” defenseman Seth Jones said following the loss. “We probably took a few too many tonight.”
The Blue Jackets will look to put it behind them before Game 5 Saturday night in Boston.