A dazzling overtime goal lifts Bruins to Game 1 victory
The Bruins weren’t guilty of taking the Blue Jackets lightly. That would be difficult, given the manner in which the lowest seed in the East swept the record-setting Lightning out of the first round.
Boston dominated for much of Game 1, just like Tampa.
Unlike Tampa, the Bruins won.
Charlie Coyle scored 5:15 into overtime, boosting the Bruins by a 3-2 score to open the second round at TD Garden Thursday night. The center from East Weymouth lived out his boyhood dream, right in front of 17,565 fans at TD Garden and anyone who has ever picked up a hockey stick.
Like so many in this region, Coyle used to imagine himself scoring playoff goals for these Bruins, when he played street hockey in a cul-de-sac outside Chuck and Theresa Coyle’s house. He used to watch Bruins playoff games from the rafters, hoping one day he would celebrate in the Spoked-B.
“I think we’ve all done that,” he said. “Pretty cool to be living it.”
Coyle, who tied the game with 4:35 left in regulation on a silken feed from Marcus Johansson, tapped another one past Sergei Bobrovsky at 5:15 of OT. Among those in a victorious pileup at the glass: Weymouth’s Chris Wagner, his longtime pal from the youth leagues South of Boston. Both are are first-year Bruins.
“How ya like playing at home?’” Wagner asked him.
Coyle’s smile said it all.
It was one of joy, but also relief. His mistake helped the Blue Jackets take control of a game the Bruins dominated, but couldn’t put away. A turnover high in the defensive zone led to a Brandon Dubinsky deflection. It was one of two goals in 13 seconds for Columbus, which took a 2-1 lead at 7:52 of the third.
“Clearly he wanted to atone,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s a hard-working guy. I’m happy he got rewarded.”
The Bruins were missing an injured David Krejci for OT, forcing Cassidy to juggle his lines more than usual. On the winning shift, Coyle and Johansson rolled out with Danton Heinen, who held up at the line and hit a streaking Johansson, who fed his fellow trade deadline acquisition for an easy winner.
Game 2 is 8 p.m. Saturday on Causeway Street.
Noel Acciari’s shorthanded goal gave the Bruins the lead in a first period they dominated, but Dubinsky and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored at 7:39 and 7:52 of the third, putting the Jackets on track for a nearly identical win as their opener against the Lightning.
Both came on deflections past Tuukka Rask (20 saves on 22 shots), who was otherwise strong against a Columbus attack mired in mud for most of the game’s first half.
The Jackets fell down, 3-0 on the road, to the Lightning in their first playoff period. The Blue Jackets were lucky their opening 20 on Thursday wasn’t worse.
Earning an eight-day respite following the shocking Tampa sweep, they were skating like they had just risen from the couch. They lost puck battles all over the ice. They put Bobrovsky (34 saves on 37 shots) under more stress than Denis Lemieux in the early part of “Slap Shot.”
The Jackets escaped the first period down, 1-0, despite Boston racking up a 26-7 edge in shot attempts, 14-4 in shots, 11-4 in scoring chances. For his best save of the frame, Bobrovsky used his right toe. He slid post to post to deny a Charlie McAvoy one-timer from the circle.
Shots were 9-1 Boston when Coyle took a hooking penalty 9:20 in, but the Bruins killed it without allowing a shot. The only shot recorded in that time, in fact, came off the stick of Acciari.
After McAvoy snuffed out an attempted entry by Dubois, Acciari picked up the poked puck and raced the other way. The fourth liner, who scored six times in the regular season, ripped a wrister past Bobrovsky at 10:34. He beat the goalie clean, far side, under the blocker.
Acciari was just following in the footsteps of fellow brothers-in-grime Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom, who lifted the Bruins with goals in Game 7. Coyle scored that night, too. Seven of the last eight Boston goals have come from forwards outside the top six.
“Secondary scoring,” said Cassidy, who tried to wring it out of his charges for much of the season. “The timing of it’s been terrific.”
Like Bobrovsky, Rask clocked in on time. He made just four saves in the first, but with a high degree of difficulty. He stoned Ryan Dzingel on a point-blank try after Zdeno Chara coughed up the puck in the circle. Rask made another stop on Dubois, who worked around Torey Krug at the blue line for a 2-on-1 break.
Columbus ramped it up in the second, outshooting Boston, 10-6. The best chances were Boston’s, but the Bruins couldn’t break through.
The two best power plays in the opening round, Columbus (50 percent) and Boston (43 percent), went a combined 0 for 8 on Thursday.
Boston’s inability to finish nearly came back to bite them, Rask allowing the double-deflection off a Seth Jones slapper and one off Dubois’s rear. No great fault of his, though the netminder allowing two goals in 13 seconds would make any Black and Gold diehard shudder from memory of the 2013 Cup Final.
With the Bruins on their way to an unthinkable loss — they outshot the visitors, 37-22, and led, 75-36, in shot attempts — Coyle set a tense Garden crowd ablaze.
He knew all too well how everyone there felt.