The Columbus Blue Jackets just could not find the back of the net enough to defeat the Boston Bruins in the second-round series in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it was not for a lack of effort.
The Blue Jackets averaged more than 35 shots over their six games against the Bruins, but Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask turned away 201 of the 212 pucks Columbus put on net, good for a .948 save percentage and 1.71 goals against average.
“He’s a great goalie,” Blue Jackets right winger Cam Atkinson said. “I’ve been saying that all along. He’s an all-star goalie. I don’t think we made it nearly as hard as we could on him getting in front of his eyes because if he sees it, he’s going to stop it.”
Defenseman Seth Jones added, “He made the big saves when they needed him to. I thought he got better as the series went on. He stood in there tall. A lot of chances. I had a lot of shots down the middle of the slot. A couple of them, he didn’t see and hit him, four or five posts. It just happens that way sometimes.”
After a tentative start to Game 1, the Blue Jackets put at least 40 shots on goal in two of the next three outings against the Bruins, and yet, they were never able to score more than three goals in any one game in the best-of-seven series.
Knowing that their season was on the line in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Monday night, the Blue Jackets put 39 shots on net and Rask was there to turn away each of them. Also, Rask got some help as the Blue Jackets rung several shots off the goal posts and crossbar.
“It was just one of those games,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “We had good chances, just couldn’t bury them.
“You’ve got to create your own luck, obviously, but it would’ve been nice to see one of those go in. I think if one of those goes in, it’s a whole different ballgame with the momentum you create just getting one past them. We peppered him, so it wasn’t for lack of try or compete on anyone’s part. I thought everyone brought it and it’s just disappointing.”
The Blue Jackets were 6-0 in the postseason when they tallied a power play goal, but they came up empty on their 11 shots with the man advantage in the deciding Game 6, which Boston won, 3-0.
“They play a very structured way and don’t give you much,” Atkinson said. “There were opportunities for us to capitalize on the power play, and we just couldn’t do it.
“We had our surges. We had our pushes when we needed to capitalize on the power play. That was the biggest thing. We had five power plays (in Game 6) maybe, had some good looks, but ultimately, not good enough.”
Jones added, “I thought we had a lot of action in front of the net. We had some slot chances, we had some action around the paint. I had some one-timers. He didn’t see some of them. Some of them, he did. It just didn’t go through. Sometimes, you get that extra little bounce or rebound that pops onto your stick, and that didn’t happen.”