COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tuukka Rask made 39 saves and recorded his sixth career playoff shutout as the Boston Bruins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 Monday night to clinch their second-round series and advance to the Eastern Conference final.
Rask was supported by great defensive play in front of the net in the Bruins’ third straight victory for a 4-2 win in the best-of-seven series, which came despite being outshot 39-29 in Game 6.
Boston advances to face the Carolina Hurricanes, who swept the New York Islanders in four games. The Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since the 2012-13 season, when they lost in the Stanley Cup finals.
David Krejci scored in the first period, and Marcus Johansson and David Backes had third-period goals for the Bruins, who gave up four power plays to the Blue Jackets but stonewalled Columbus on a number of chances.
Boston’s top-liners were kept off the scoresheet again, but it didn’t matter.
Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had an outstanding post-season but allowed two quick goals in the third period that sealed another hard, tight-checking game and the series for Boston.
The Bruins appeared to have a goal in the first period when Sean Kuraly netted the puck after an extended close-in attack on a power play, but it was overturned after a replay showed that Joakim Nordstrom had pushed Bobrovsky out of the crease.
Columbus squandered a power play in the second, nearly giving up a short-handed goal to Kuraly on a breakaway. Later in the second, the Bruins were spared when a slap shot by Blue Jackets defenceman Dean Kukan ricocheted off the bar and into the crowd.
After Jake DeBrusk hit a goal post on the other end, Krekci got the rebound off the boards and scored the first goal of the game with a slap shot from the top of the right circle with 7:47 left in the second.
Near the end of the second, Boston’s Charlie McAvoy nearly took off Josh Anderson’s head with a hit, but the officials levelled only a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal check. The Blue Jackets had 1:41 of the power play remaining to start the third period but again couldn’t capitalize.
Boston got its second goal 8:58 into the third when Bobrovsky allowed a shot by Johansson to bounce behind him after the initial stop. Backes got the third on a rush about two minutes later.
NOTES: Columbus F Markus Hannikainen played in his first career playoff game. Alexander Wennberg was a healthy scratch. D Adam Clendening also was scratched after playing in the last seven playoff games. … Boston F Noel Acciari was a scratch for the second time in the series.
UP NEXT: Boston advances to conference final against Carolina.
Follow Mitch Stacy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mitchstacy
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Mitch Stacy, The Associated Press