COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jake DeBrusk wanted that one back.
All alone with Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with 12:28 left in the third period of a tied Game 2, DeBrusk had two defenders behind him and one to his left. Rather than shoot or deke, he dropped a pass diagonally to a quickly covered David Pastrnak.
“It would have been my best chance of the playoffs so far,” DeBrusk said before he scored the Bruins’ lone goal in Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Blue Jackets in Game 3. “Obviously frustrating. Next time it happens, I’ll be for sure shooting.”
This postseason, coach Bruce Cassidy dropped DeBrusk to the second power-play unit in favor of Marcus Johansson. That has cut into his ice time, which had dropped to 16:02 per game (three times under 14 minutes this postseason). He has been used as much as normal otherwise, Cassidy said, which had made his totals entering Game 3 — 1-1—2 in nine games — look all the more pedestrian.
“Jake has the attributes to score in the playoffs,” Cassidy said of the sophomore, who scored 27 times in the regular season. “He will go inside, take a hit, take a slash to get in there. Just has to do it a little more often right now.”
Hacking through the Blue Jackets’ forest — defensemen Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, and David Savard each played between 32 and 38 minutes Saturday — has not been easy. Getting one past Bobrovsky, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner, has been tougher.
Bobrovsky has a .930 save percentage this postseason (5-1, 2.01 going into Game 3). The Bruins, 7 for 16 on the power play against Toronto, are 1 for 10 against Columbus after Tuesday’s 0 for 2.
“We need to force less,” Cassidy said before the game. “We’re throwing a lot through the seams that are getting deflected and cleared. We’ve got to get back to basics. We have plays that we like to run, that group has run, run them well.”
Wagner still out
Chris Wagner, whose legs haven’t been the same since his late-season lower-body injury, was scratched for the third time in the last five games. Rookie Karson Kuhlman slotted in next to DeBrusk and David Krejci, with Pastrnak dropping to the third line. David Backes hasn’t played since logging 4:36 in Game 5 against Toronto.
Kuhlman skated 13:22, one of several forwards Cassidy didn’t use much. Noel Acciari (10:06) and Joakim Nordstrom (10:50) were the low men up front. Their running mate, Sean Kuraly (13:11), got a couple extra shifts.
Rookie defenseman Connor Clifton, victimized on the 1-0 goal, played just 10:00. He skated seven shifts after Boone Jenner scored with 1:23 remaining in the first period.
Bang for the buck
Ex-Bruin Riley Nash, run over by Zdeno Chara on the opening shift of Game 2, was clearly on the end of payback for his pop on Krejci in Game 1. He didn’t think his former teammates were looking for retribution.
“I don’t think a guy in the NHL is going to put a bounty on another guy’s head,” he said. “That’s getting into prison rules.”
Nash, who finished Game 2 after a few woozy moments, deferred all questions about his medical status to team staff. In doing so, he winked at the two-year, $8.25 million deal he signed with Columbus last summer — a tripling of his Bruins salary.
“Those things are out of my pay grade,” he said. “Even though I’m getting paid decently.”
DeBrusk said he watched a lot of the Blue Jackets’ sweep of the Lightning, and came away impressed with Game 2 hero Matt Duchene.
“Very impressed with his first round,” DeBrusk said. “He’s feeling it.”
He did not see Duchene celebrate his double-overtime winner Saturday, looking similar to DeBrusk after he scored in Game 6 in Toronto: sliding on his knees, arms extended, huge smile.
“You just want to get out of there,” DeBrusk said. “I don’t think he meant to do it on purpose, but if he did, he did.”
No question his teammate, Brandon Dubinsky, has been trolling Boston.
After Game 2, in an interview with a Columbus TV station, Dubinsky was asked if he could picture the atmosphere for Game 3 in Columbus.
“I can,” he said. “I can tell you it’s going to be a hell of a lot louder than it was here in Boston.”
During his media availability the next day, Dubinsky was wearing a Milwaukee Bucks hat. The Bucks lost the opener of their second-round NBA playoff series with the Celtics.
Dubinsky’s wife, Brenna, is from Milwaukee, and he insisted that was the reason for his choice. Brenna’s grandfather is the late Al McGuire, the former Marquette coach and college basketball commentator who has a bust in Springfield, Mass., at the Basketball Hall of Fame.
No kick from football
These days, Sean Kuraly has no trouble convincing his friends he chose the right sport. Leaving his hometown buddies in Columbus their share of playoff tickets is more than enough evidence that hockey was the right path for Boston’s high-energy forward.
But as a kid? Kuraly drew plenty of odd looks over his aversion to football, the game that rules this corner of the world, and plenty of curiosity over his devotion to a game most of his friends never even tried to play.
“It was unusual and misunderstood, I think,” Kuraly said. “When you went to play hockey on the weekend — I was gone almost every weekend — it was kind of like, ‘What are you doing?’ But it makes a little more sense now.”
Kuraly, who returned from wrist surgery just in time to score the most important goal in Game 7 against Toronto, never was convinced to try football as a kid. He preferred soccer, lacrosse, and even a little baseball in addition to his skates and stick.
“You kind of pick your way, you either go football or what you’re going to do, but it’s everywhere here, football is everywhere,” he said. “It’s good to see hockey’s come a long way too.”