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  • Boston’s Tuukka Rask (left) makes a save against Columbus’s Matt Duchene as Zdeno Chara (33) trails the play during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. AP

  • Boston Bruins forward Sean Kuraly (right) gets the puck past Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (left) as Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk, Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan and Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard look on during Game 4 of their second-round playoff series in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday. AP

  • Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (37) scores past Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72), of Russia, as Blue Jackets defensemen David Savard (58) and Scott Harrington (4) defend during the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, May 2, 2019. The Bruins won 4-1. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) Paul Vernon

  • Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, right, of Finland, stops a shot by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky, as Bruins defenseman Torey Krug helps Rask during the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, May 2, 2019. The Bruins won 4-1. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) Paul Vernon

  • Boston Bruins forward Sean Kuraly, center, celebrates his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with forward David Backes, left, and defenseman Charlie McAvoy during the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, May 2, 2019. The Bruins won 4-1. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) Paul Vernon

  • Jersey Jersey Jets Marshall Marshall Jets Boston Bruins forward Sean Kuraly, center, celebrates his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with forward David Backes, left, and defenseman Charlie McAvoy during the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, May 2, 2019. The Bruins won 4-1. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) Paul Vernon

  • Jersey Jersey Jets Marshall Marshall Jets Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, right, of Finland, stops a shot by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky, as Bruins defenseman Torey Krug helps Rask during the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, May 2, 2019. The Bruins won 4-1. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) Paul Vernon

Monitor staff
Published: 5/3/2019 7:26:59 PM

Jersey Jersey Jets Marshall Marshall Jets It took 40 minutes for six months to unravel.

Over the course of 82 games, the Tampa Bay Lightning dismantled the competition, racked up a record-tying 62 regular-season wins and solidified itself as the overwhelming favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Twenty minutes into the postseason, the Bolts had built a 3-0 cushion and appeared poised to keep pounding the opposition. But the Columbus Blue Jackets, a franchise that had never won a playoff series, stormed back to win Game 1 and left the Lightning staggered.

The NHL’s behemoth had a glass jaw, and it took just one haymaker for Columbus to set up a sweep of the Lightning’s shattered season. Tampa wasn’t alone. Underdogs came out swinging all over the league, and it was the first time all four division champions suffered first-round knockouts.

Thursday’s Game 4 was an opportunity for the Blue Jackets to deliver another devastating blow to a prohibited favorite. However, Boston is the kind of team that can take a punch and return a crazy-eyed smile with a few missing teeth.

The Bruins survived a hard-fought encounter with rival Toronto, never holding a lead in the series until it was decided. Following Thursday’s imperative road triumph, the B’s are 4-1 in games following a loss this postseason.

“There’s no panic,” Boston forward Brad Marchand said of his team following Thursday’s victory.

Survival skills are necessary for any deep playoff run, but it’s a skill set that can take a team only so far.

All square and heading back home, it’s time for the Bruins to seize control.

Thanks to the multitude of first-round upsets, Boston has the benefit of home-ice advantage for as long as the Bruins are skating. After being called out by Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky following Game 2, expect TD Garden to be rocking for Saturday night’s pivotal Game 5.

“That’s why we worked hard the whole year, to get home-ice advantage,” Bruins forward David Krejci told reporters on Friday. “It’s a big game again. The momentum changes so quickly in this series. It’s nice to be back home and have a chance to be up 3-2.”

Boston has the talent to claim the franchise’s seventh Stanley Cup, but its fate will likely rest with execution on special teams.

The results on the power play and penalty kill have been harbingers for Boston’s success. The Bruins are 5-0 when posting a positive margin in special-teams goals this postseason, but they’re 0-3 when being outscored in such situations.

Jersey Jersey Jets Marshall Marshall Jets Tuukka Rask was the star of Game 4 with 39 saves. He stopped a crucial penalty shot and helped kill four other penalties. He also turned away multiple short-handed chances after a few maddening turnovers on the power play.

His play didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

“Tuukka is great, bails us out a lot,” forward Noel Acciari added. “I think he’s playing his best hockey right now and this is the time we need him.”

The Bruins also need their star skaters.

Through 10 postseason games, Charlie Coyle led the team with five goals. While a balanced attack is helpful, the third-line center doesn’t often steer a team all the way to a Stanley Cup.

Patrice Bergeron scored twice Thursday – tying Coyle with five for the playoffs – and the scuffling David Pastrnak blasted in the the first goal of the game.

Pastrnak remained turnover prone, so the performance was far from perfect, but Thursday’s production took some pressure off the secondary scorers. That could pave the way for Boston’s best brand of hockey.

Marchand, predictably, was never worried.

“We don’t expect to score every goal,” the fiery forward said of the first line. “That’s why we’re a good team is because we have a good team all the way around. Everyone expects to pull their weight and do their job.”

The well-rounded Bruins have proven they can take a punch better than Tampa Bay.

Game 5 is Boston’s chance to deliver an uppercut and claim the upper hand in this series.

(Jason Orfao can be reached at jorfao@cmonitor.com)

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