Bruins Advance to Eastern Conference Finals

Another call in Columbus didn’t go Boston’s way.

And once again, the Bruins weren’t going to let it define the contest.

The Black and Gold overcame a waved-off goal in the first period to put up three tallies that were real and spectacular, sending Boston to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2013 with a 3-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night at Nationwide Arena. 

The Bruins won the second round series, 4 games to 2.

David Krejci, Marcus Johansson and David Backes scored for the Bruins, while Tuukka Rask continued his incredible postseason with his first shutout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since May 8, 2014. Rask turned aside all 39 shots he faced from Columbus, raising his save percentage this postseason to .938.

For context, when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with Tim Thomas between the pipes, his save percentage was .940.

Sean Kuraly appeared to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the first period, only for Columbus to win a coaches challenge for goaltender interference. Officials deemed that Joakim Nordstrom made just enough contact with Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky to call the goal off.

Unlike the disallowed goal, Krejci’s counted. 

Jake DeBrusk entered the attacking zone on a feed from Connor Clifton, uncorking a wrister which glanced off the post. There was Krejci on the off-wing to collect the rebound, his slap shot beating Bobrovsky and giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead for real at 12:33 of the second period.

Hardly secure, Boston was dealt a self-inflicted blow in the final minute of the second period when Charlie McAvoy was called for an illegal hit to the head of Columbus forward Josh Anderson.

McAvoy left his feet along the wall and made contact with Anderson at 19:20 of the middle frame, giving the Blue Jackets what would be a wrap-around power play. Even in going shorthanded, however, the Bruins caught a break: rather than drawing a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, McAvoy was sent off for just a 2-minute minor and allowed to return once Columbus was unable to score in the third period.

The possibility remains that McAvoy could face additional discipline from the NHL, but that won't be known until Tuesday at the earliest.

For as well as Rask was playing, the Bruins weren't going to be content with just a one-goal lead against a desperate Columbus team fighting for its postseason life. 

That's where Marcus Johansson, acquired by Boston at the trade deadline, scored his biggest goal as a member of the Bruins yet. A simple wrister became arguably the softest goal Bobrovsky allowed this postseason, as he made contact with the puck but it proceeded to ricochet off his arm and into the back of the net for a two-goal cushion at 8:58 of the third.

Backes tacked on the exclamation point less than two minutes later for Boston at 10:39.

The goal had to feel particularly good for Backes, who has been scratched in six of the Bruins' 13 playoff games this spring. The goal was his first of these Stanley Cup Playoffs and first in 15 playoff games dating back to last year.

The Bruins will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals, with Game 1 at the TD Garden on a date yet to be announced.

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