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Bruins put away Blue Jackets, advance to conference finals

AP

Tuukka Rask was impenetrable when it counted in Game 6, and the Boston Bruins are on their way to the Eastern Conference final.

Rask made 39 saves and recorded his sixth career playoff shutout as Boston beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 Monday night to clinch their second-round series 4-2.

Rask was supported by great defensive play in front of the net by the Bruins, who were outshot 39-29 in a tight physical game that has been the norm in this series.

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.

“(Rask) was definitely our most consistent player throughout the whole series,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We had guys give us good performances from game to game. He was there every night.”

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

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 Rask stonewalled Columbus on a number of high-danger chances.

The Blue Jackets hit posts at least four times.

“We peppered him,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. “It wasn’t through lack of trying or competing on anyone’s part. I thought everyone brought it, and it’s just disappointing.”

Rask said he put up with increased pushing and shoving in the crease and kept Columbus from taking him out of his game.

“As the series went on, they kind of felt like they needed to do that,” Rask said. “Trying to get in my head a little bit. It’s funny when that happens because you know you got the better of them at that point.”

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had an outstanding postseason but allowed the two quick goals in the third period that sealed it for Boston. He finished with 26 saves.

Avalanche 4, Sharks 3 (OT)

In Denver, captain Gabriel Landeskog scored 2:32 into overtime after Colorado squandered a late lead in regulation and the Avalanche beat San Jose Sharks 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.