COLUMBUS— Now that the rust has been knocked off, the Columbus Blue Jackets will try to even their second-round series with the Boston Bruins.
Columbus had eight days off between sweeping Tampa Bay in the first round and opening the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bruins on Thursday. And the Blue Jackets acknowledge that showed in the early going of the 3-2 overtime loss.
Boston, on the other hand, had just one day off after beating Toronto in Game 7 of their series, and the Bruins carried in the momentum.
“I thought we were clearly the better team in the first period,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “The residual effect of the emotional win in Game 7. (Columbus) had time off. That can go either way. Usually, it’s hard to find your game when you have that much time off, the intensity level. I believe it’ll help them in the long run, obviously, with the rest.”
The two teams play Game 2 at 8 tonight.
The Blue Jackets tried everything they could to stay sharp while waiting for the Boston-Toronto series to play out. Tough practices. A full scrimmage at Nationwide Arena on Monday with around 5,500 people in the stands.
They still had trouble keeping up with Boston in the first period, though goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kept them in the game with some terrific saves. With the Bruins up 1-0, Columbus got two quick goals in the third period, but Boston’s Charlie Coyle scored the tying goal late and the decider in extra time.
“You saw our struggles in the first,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We couldn’t handle the tempo of the game, or we just weren’t thinking quick enough. I don’t know how you can get that (with so much time off). We just couldn’t simulate that as far as trying to get ready, and you’ve got that team coming on a high, but I think we slowly got about our business and found our game. We’ve just got to be ready to start the next game.”
Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask, who had 20 saves, said the Bruins were still flying from the Toronto series.
“We definitely didn’t want them to get the better of us in the first period,” he said. “So we pushed and we brought the same emotion from Game 7, and I think we never stopped. We were the better team today so now it’s just a matter of realizing that we need to bring that same energy every night.”
Boston center David Krejci left after being hurt in the third period and didn’t return. The team said Friday he is day to day.