Unsung heroes springing to life are pretty much a prerequisite for any team with its sights set on winning the Stanley Cup.
Still 10 wins shy of the prize, the Bruins have a serious contender looming large in Sean Kuraly.
Kuraly was in the right place at the right time to bury a Zdeno Chara bomb off the end wall which Columbus defenders neglected to clear, his goal 8:40 into the third period providing Boston with the vitamin B shot it needed to finish off the Blue Jackets and tie the series at two games apiece with a 4-1 win at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night.
Motivated by its lackluster performance in Game 3, the Bruins seized the momentum early by jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
David Pastrnak, in the midst of an underwhelming postseason, scored on a feed from Charlie McAvoy 3:33 into regulation -- just seconds after he was rearranged by Adam Clendenning earlier in his shift. Not even 4 minutes later, Patrice Bergeron recorded his first point of the second round on a power play goal to give Boston a two-goal cushion.
Controversy soon followed, when a Pierre-Luc Dubois ricocheted off of Tuukka Rask and into the protective netting above the end glass. But the officials failed to see the puck hit the mesh, and the Blue Jackets played through the whistle, which culminated in an Artemi Panarin goal at 8:46 after the Bruins failed to clear.
Per the rules, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy was unable to challenge the goal.
Pastrnak soon regressed to his unfortunate norm in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, responsible for a number of giveaways that failed to haunt the Bruins only thanks to the prowess of Rask. Pastrank’s most egregious transgressions included fanning on a wrister in the right-wing circle on a power play in the second period, and coughed up another would-be shot on goal from the attacking blue line early in the third which resulted in a breakaway for Dubois (this time, it was Brandon Carlo bailing Pastrnak out with a diving backcheck.)
Bergeron added a second goal on the power play at 17:30 of the third to make it 4-1 in favor of Boston.
Rask continues to play some of the best playoff hockey of his career for the Bruins, turning away 39 of the 40 shots he faced in Columbus. This included stoning Boone Jenner on a penalty shot in the first period which would have tied the game at 1-1 and taken all of the air out of Boston's sails.
Over two games in the capital of Ohio, Rask made 71 saves on 74 shots faced. For the postseason, he has a robust .933 save percentage -- up from .912 in the regular season.
His counterpart, Sergei Bobrovsky, made 42 saves for the Blue Jackets.
The Bruins were 2 for 6 on the power play, while the Jackets were 0 for 4.
Game 5 is Saturday at TD Garden at 7:15 p.m.