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NHL playoffs: Bruins defeat Blue Jackets to advance to Eastern Conference final

Boston Bruins players celebrate their goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period
Boston Bruins players celebrate a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period of Game 6 of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinals on May 6.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

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.

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Boston’s top-liners were kept off the scoresheet again, but it didn’t matter.

Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had an outstanding postseason 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 defenseman Dean Kukan ricocheted off the bar and into the crowd.

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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 leveled 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.

at Avalanche 4, Sharks 3: Captain Gabriel Landeskog scored 2:32 into overtime after Colorado squandered a late lead in regulation and the Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Monday night to force a decisive Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series.

Landeskog dumped the puck into the zone, turned in a big hit along the boards, got up in time to take a pass from rookie Cale Makar and knock in the goal past Martin Jones to help the Avalanche escape elimination. J.T. Compher had two goals and an assist, while Tyson Jost added another.

Game 7 is Wednesday in San Jose. The winner will play either Dallas or St. Louis in the conference final.

The Stars and Blues are tied heading into Game 7 in St. Louis on Tuesday. The Sharks are 7-4 all-time in Game 7s, including a win over Vegas in the first round, while the Avalanche have a 4-6 mark since relocating to the Mile High City.

Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves, including a pad save on Tomas Hertl early in OT.

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored twice, including the tying goal off the skate of an Avalanche defenseman with 2:28 remaining, and Brent Burns added another for the Sharks, who fell to 22-19 when opponents are facing elimination.

This has been a back-and-forth series. San Jose captured Game 1 and the two have alternated wins the rest of the way. The combined score in the series is 17-16 in favor of the Sharks.

Colorado has been playing desperate hockey since late in the regular season just trying to sneak into the playoffs. The team went 8-0-2 down the stretch to secure the eighth seed. The Avs haven’t lost back-to-back games since mid-March.

“Every game was kind of an elimination game for us, so to speak,” defenseman Erik Johnson said. “We didn’t have a choice.”

The last time Colorado won Game 6 when facing a 3-2 deficit was the 2002 conference semifinals, which also happened to be against San Jose. The Avalanche then knocked off the Sharks 1-0 in Game 7.

Nathan MacKinnon nearly gave Colorado a 4-2 advantage late in the game, but his attempt was deflected away by the stick of Burns. Soon after, Vlasic tied it up when he banked a shot off the right skate of Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov. It all was set up when Zadorov broke his stick on the play and Landeskog handed him his.

Colorado took a one-goal lead on two separate occasions in the second period, only to have the Sharks tie it right back up. After Jost scored, Vlasic answered. And after Compher’s goal from the blue line, Burns responded with 9.8 seconds left.

It was a painful second period for Mikko Rantanen, who took a hip check from Burns in the right hip/thigh area. Rantanen immediately went to the bench and into the locker room. Rantanen gingerly returned about 4 minutes later.

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Colorado hit two posts in a scoreless first period. Jones has surrendered just one goal to Colorado in the opening period all series.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski made another step toward a return as he went through drills Monday morning at Pepsi Center. He’s been out since his head slammed against the ice in Game 7 of a first-round series against Vegas.

“It still really is day-to-day,” Pavelski said. “Wish I had a set-in-stone answer — go here, do this and be ready. We’re taking everything into play.”


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