Moments after Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400” blasted through the TD Garden speakers to celebrate Bruins center Charlie Coyle’s game-winning goal, the message coming out of the visitors’ locker room was one of patience.
“This is a tough one to swallow right now, but it’s going to be a long series,” Blue Jackets left winger Brandon Dubinsky said after his team’s 3-2 overtime loss Thursday night.
“It’s going to be a dogfight the whole way,” echoed right winger Riley Nash, who was a part of Boston’s playoff squad last season before leaving during free agency.
In the eyes of the Blue Jackets, the latter half of Game 1 seemed like a preview of what’s to come in their second-round playoff series against the Bruins. There were players constantly jawing at one another, back-to-back goals over the course of 13 seconds, and, of course, bonus hockey. It was competitive, it was physical, and it was intense.
But things didn’t exactly start off that way.
“You saw our struggles in the first [period],” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “We couldn’t handle the tempo of the game. We just weren’t thinking quick enough.”
With over a week of rest since sweeping the East’s top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blue Jackets clearly needed some time to get their feet underneath them. The Bruins, fresh off their seven-game series against the Maple Leafs, kept Columbus on its heels in the first period, firing off 14 shots on goal.
Only one connected, when right winger Noel Acciari buried a shorthanded goal midway through the frame. The Blue Jackets, however, easily could have been down by more, if not for the performance of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
“We obviously don’t want to make him busy that early, but he was there for us when we needed him,” center Nick Foligno said. “When he plays like that, he calms us.”
“We’re going to continue to need him to be our best player to give us a chance,” added right winger Cam Atkinson. “He showed it tonight. You can tell he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Despite the loss, Bobrovsky said he felt comfortable in the net. In the days leading up to the game — there were plenty of them — he said he did his best not to overanalyze the forthcoming contests. He certainly doesn’t want to start doing so now.
“I didn’t try to overthink or visualize what was going to happen, what if this and what if that,” he said. “I just prepared myself to do my things, so, as soon as the puck dropped, I played my game. I don’t want to overthink now. It is what it is. That’s the result. We have to move on.”
So, what needs to change in Game 2?
Tortorella said he would like to see his team be more decisive with its checking as well as stay out of the penalty box. The Blue Jackets were whistled for four infractions in Game 1, although the Bruins didn’t cash in on any of their power-play opportunities.
“We can’t sit in the box,” Tortorella said. “We just got to be more disciplined.”
That being said, neither Tortorella nor the players expect the aggression to go away.
“Both teams banged when they needed to, when they had opportunities to,” Tortorella said. “It’s part of the game. We’re going to continue with it. I”m sure they are, too.”