- The Blue Jackets were able to sweep the Lightning in front of their home fans in Columbus. Now their season is over as they fell in Game 6 against Boston at that same arena. The Bruins move on to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
- While the East half of Round 3 is set, the West side is still totally unsettled. The Sharks didn’t fall easily on Monday, but the Avalanche grabbed a gutsy OT win to send this series to Game 7.
Bruins 3, Blue Jackets 0 (Boston wins series 4-2)
Charlie McAvoy only receiving a two-minute minor for his hit on Josh Anderson was a big part of the Game 6 storyline, no doubt. But, really, Tuukka Rask strangled any chance for the Blue Jackets to rally around the anger of not getting a call they believed they deserved. David Krejci managed the lone goal of the first 40 minutes of this one, and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed two quick goals in the third period to sap any last-minute drama. Columbus has some things to build on going forward, even with Bobrovsky and others possibly leaving, but the Bruins get the upper hand.
This was a fascinating game. The Avs managed leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2, yet the Sharks just kept fighting back. When Game 6 went to overtime, there was at least a faint feeling that San Jose was going to stun Colorado in its own building. Instead, Gabriel Landeskog scored the overtime game-winner, forcing a Game 7 in this series. Two unsung heroes loomed large in Game 6, and they follow Rask in the three stars below …
1. Tuukka Rask
Rask already turned heads with strong work during the Bruins’ Round 2 series against the Blue Jackets, but Game 6 might count as his best performance yet. While Rask enjoyed a little bit of luck from posts hitting his posts, he was still incredibly sharp for Boston, and thus outrageously frustrating for the Blue Jackets. Rask generated a 39-save shutout to close out Columbus, and the occasionally-criticized goalie is cementing his status as a true difference-maker for a Bruins team eyeing a glorious run.
2. J.T. Compher
Heading into Game 6 for Colorado, Compher had one three-point game to his career, yet he scored two goals and one assist at the most crucial time, with the Avalanche facing down elimination. Check these highlights and decide for yourself: is his assist to Tyson Jost to open scoring the best of Compher’s three points, or was it the 3-2 goal where he showed some pretty impressive hands?
That 3-2 goal sure seemed like it would be the game-winner, except an equally unlikely hero forced the issue for San Jose …
Again, Vlasic can be a “likely” hero for his work in his own end. And, really, Vlasic was his usual, defensive-defenseman-dynamo self against Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen, his most frequent opponents in Game 6. Yes, Landeskog scored an overtime game-winner, but generally speaking, the Sharks did a great job of limiting that dangerous trio’s chances. Vlasic was a big part of that.
Few would have expected Vlasic to be so prolific offensively, though.
Vlasic scored two goals for the Sharks while firing three SOG, blocking four shots, and managing two takeaways in Game 6. Impressive stuff, even if San Jose couldn’t quite close out Colorado.
Oh, by the way, this is only the second two-goal game of Vlasic’s career, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Again, it was a rare night.
- Brent Burns joined Kris Letang, Brent Seabrook, and Dustin Byfuglien as the four active defensemen with at least 20 career playoff goals. He scored his 20th in Game 6, which was also his fifth of this postseason.
- Tuukka Rask earned his sixth career playoff shutout, tying Tim Thomas and Tiny Thompson for second in Bruins franchise history. Only Gerry Cheevers has more with eight. Statscentre notes that Rask broke a tie with Pekka Rinne and Miikka Kiprusoff for the most shutouts among Finnish-born goalies.
- The Bruins have won three of the their four series against the Hurricanes, but every series went at least six games.
TUESDAY’S GAME 7
Game 7: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues (series tied 3-3; 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN [stream here])