Mitch's Sports Report: Jackets Can't Solve Rask, Bruins Head To Eastern Conference Finals
Sensational goaltending, scoring without relying on one particular line, and a little bit of puck luck.
The Boston Bruins checked off all three boxes last night in a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Ohio that closes out the series four games to two and sends the Bruins to the eastern conference finals for the first time since 2013.
Tuukka Rask was brilliant again, stopping all 39 shots that came his way, making calm positional saves and at other times just shrugging a shoulder shrug to deflect pucks out of harm's way, or into the crossbar. The Blue Jackets will lament ringing iron four times in the game, but hockey isn't horseshoes, and they have to go in to count.
The Bruins got their first goal when Jake DeBrusk slung a wrist shot off the post that bounced out to David Krejci. He blasted a slap shot past Sergei Bobrovsky, and the Bruins nursed that 1-0 lead into the third period when they got some breathing room off a goal by Marcus Johansson, and another by veteran David Backes, who was a healthy scratch for part of this series but has made the most of his opportunity since being put back in. He charged hard to the net and tipped in a perfect pass from Torey Krug to make it 3-0.
The Bruins also had a Sean Kuraly goal called back in the first period when video replay showed Joakim Nordstrom may have interfered with Bobrovsky, and while that nullification was questionable, the Bruins did catch a break later in the game when Charlie McAvoy put a shoulder into Josh Anderson, a hit that fell squarely on Anderson's jaw and sent him sprawling to the ice. The dangerous check resulted in just a minor two minute penalty when it could easily have been a five minute major and an automatic ejection for McAvoy.
But after the game in the traditional handshake line, one of the other truly wonderful things about playoff hockey, McAvoy could be seen apologizing to Anderson for the hit, and Anderson appeared to graciously accept the expression of regret.
The Bruins now face the upstart Carolina Hurricanes, who swept the NY Islanders and will be well rested when the series opens in Boston.
Out west the San Jose Sharks will host a game seven against the Colorado Avalanche after Colorado's 4-3 overtime win last night. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog put home the game winner.
In the NBA playoffs the Boston Celtics are in a hole that may be too deep to climb out of. The Celtics fell 113-101 at home to the Milwaukee Bucks last night and now trail three games to one. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 39 points and 16 rebounds but the Celtics blew a golden opportunity to take advantage of the Greek Freak's absence when he drew his fourth foul of the game early in the 3rd quarter and had to sit out for a long stretch. But without their best player on the floor the Bucks bench thrived, pulling away to a double digit lead with Giannis watching and cheering them on. Kyrie Irving finished with 23 points and 10 assists but it was a quiet double double. He was just 1 of 7 from three point range and 7 for 22 from the floor. The Bucks can wrap up the series at home in game 5 tomorrow night.
The Houston Rockets have tied up their series with the Golden State Warriors at two games apiece with a 112-108 win in Texas last night behind 38 points from James Harden.
To baseball and the Boston Red Sox sent spot starter Josh Smith to the hill against the last place Baltimore Orioles and Smith gave up a grand slam to Jonathan Villar in the bottom of the second. That was more than enough for Baltimore lefty John Means, who gave up just one run over 7 innings in the Oriole's 4-1 win.
The NY Yankees out-slugged the hot-hitting Seattle Mariners in a 7-3 win at the Stadium, getting to Mariners starter Felix Hernandez with three homers in the first two innings by Luke Voit, Brett Gardner and Thairo Estrada. That was all the run support CC Sabathia would need for the win.
Rookie pitcher Chris Paddack of the Padres did something amazing against the Mets in San Diego, and it wasn't just striking out 11 to get the win. It was out-dueling Mets ace Jacob de Grom along the way in the Padres 4-0 victory.
The Toronto Blue Jays were also shut out, falling 8-0 to the Minnesota Twins at the Rogers Centre.