Blue Jackets return to form, win special teams battle to even Round 2 series vs. Bruins

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Special teams: never sleep on it.

Just ask the Boston Bruins, who will be left to rue missed opportunities in that phase of the game. Or the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were 0-for-4 in Game 1.

On Saturday night, however, the Blue Jackets can take pride in what they were able to do with the man-advantage and with a man-disadvantage as they evened up their best-of-seven series 3-2 in double overtime following some tweaks.

The series will shift to Nationwide Arena in Columbus next week after Matt Duchene pocketed the oh-so-important marker in 3:42 into the second extra frame. An ill-advised offensive-zone trip by Patrice Bergeron put the Blue Jackets a man up and Duchene was Johnny on the spot on a rebound in front to slip the puck between Tuukka Rask‘s legs to end the game.

The power play got Columbus going in the second period after they entered the frame down 1-0.

The man they call the Bread Man — Artemi Panarin — delivered the first of two blows off his stick in the period (and had the primary assist on the double OT winner). Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen may still rue the day he didn’t trade Panarin, an unrestricted free agent come July 1, before the trade deadline, but the risk to keep him has unquestionably paid off in these playoffs, with Panarin’s six-game point streak as proof.

Panarin’s third goal of the playoffs was followed by his second to once again tie the game roughly seven minutes later after David Pastrnak responded to the Russian’s first the of the game just 58 seconds after Panarin made it 1-1.

The most important thing for the Blue Jackets to do coming into Game 2 was to get back to their suffocating forecheck that served them so well in Round 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It was a goal they accomplished (you can see how the relentless forecheck led to Panarin’s second, for instance). And Sergei Bobrovsky was on the right side of a tight game this time around after making some particularly incredible saves in the first overtime period.

Boston stumbled over themselves too often in this game, including roughly five minutes of power play time in the second period where they couldn’t register a shot — a no-no in a playoff game.

Gift with around three minutes of a man-advantage after a high-sticking call against Josh Anderson, the Bruins played the 4-on-4 poorly and got scored on by Panarin to tie it 2-2.

From there, they squandered away that opportunity and then another glorious one late in the third when a Cam Atkinson tripping penalty could have served them up the game on a silver platter.

But Columbus defended remarkably on both attempts by the Bruins, whose fans voiced their displeasure.

Game 3 goes Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena on NBCSN


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck