The Columbus Blue Jackets are one loss away from being eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Bruins.
But Columbus coach John Tortorella said it’s not going to occur on home ice in Game 6.
“Things happen for a reason, and I truly believe that — we’ll be back here (in Boston) for Game 7,” Tortorella said after Columbus fought back with a three-goal third period but fell 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night.
With their top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand leading the offense, the Bruins hold a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series at it returns to Nationwide Arena for the final time on Monday (7 p.m. EDT, NBCSN). Game 7, if necessary, will be in Boston on Wednesday night.
“I have no problem with the intensity of our club right on through,” Tortorella said. “It’s just that we need guys being more creative and making more plays throughout a 60-minute game.”
Pastrnak had two goals in the third period, including the game-winner, and Marchand had a goal and two assists as Boston’s offensive stars were producing for the second consecutive game.
“They’re dominant when they’re on, and they’re very good even when they’re not on,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said of his stars. “So, if they start feeling it, it’s a tall task for the other team.”
The bright spot for Columbus was an attacking third period that shifted the momentum until Pastrnak’s goal with 1:28 left sealed the win for Boston.
The Blue Jackets are striving to carry that intensity into the must-win Game 6.
“Obviously would like to make it a little easier on ourselves, but that’s the way it’s gone,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “So we can go home and worry about winning a big game at home and then get back here (to Boston).”
SHARKS at AVALANCHE, San Jose leads series 3-2 (10 p.m. EDT, NBCSN)
Nearly eliminated after falling behind 3-1 in a first-round series and by three goals in the third period of Game 7 against Vegas, San Jose is just one win away from making it to the conference finals for the fourth time this decade.
But after staging an epic comeback against the Golden Knights in the first round, the Sharks know the Avalanche can also do the same.
“We faced three elimination games against Vegas. We didn’t go away easily and I don’t anticipate they’re going to either,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “This feels good. We put ourselves in a good spot with a chance to put them away.”
The teams have alternated wins through the first five games. The Sharks are coming off their most complete performance of the series as they dominated from start to finish in a 2-1 win at home on Saturday night.
San Jose outshot Colorado 39-22, got two goals from Tomas Hertl and held the Avalanche to just one shot on goal during three power plays. Colorado is just 2 for 17 with the man advantage this series.
“One of the changes has to come with their mindset,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “We’ve got to get in attack mode and some of that is we have to move the puck and shoot the puck. It’s happening too slow, we’re too stationary, we’re not shooting.”
The Sharks did the best job they have all series at slowing down Nathan MacKinnon, holding him to one shot on goal and ending his eight-game point streak. Defensive pair Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns got the bulk of the responsibility against Colorado’s top line of MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.
That matchup will be harder to get consistently on the road for San Jose. But the Avalanche know it will take more than just getting one line going to extend this series.
“Everybody that’s in this room knows what’s at stake and how important the next one is going to be,” Landeskog said.