BOSTON – The worst was feared when Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy kicked out his right foot to block a shot in the closing seconds of Boston’s Game 5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The second-year D-man managed to smother the shot with his right skate to ensure the 4-3 win over Columbus at TD Garden, and then said it was perfectly okay while speaking with the media following the game.
McAvoy did have a big red welt on the side of his right foot where he’d made contact with the blistering Artemi Panarin shot, but he was walking normally without a limp while barefoot in the postgame dressing room.
That registers as a giant dodged bullet for McAvoy given how little protection and padding there is in the side of the hockey skates where the D-man absorbed the shot’s impact.
“It stings, but in a good way. It’s fine,” said McAvoy, following the big win over the Blue Jackets that gives them a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. “I wasn’t going to be able to get my stick out there. He did a good job of popping out to an area, so I kind of just dove and got lucky that it hit me [in the foot].”
It was all part of another very strong playoff game for McAvoy as he led all Bruins players with 24:31 of ice time, finished with a plus-1 rating, a shot attempt, two hits and a couple of blocked shots in a gritty effort.
The Game 5 win was in reality a breakout game for all of Boston’s young defensemen with McAvoy sealing the victory with his gutsy blocked shot, Brandon Carlo setting up the game-winning goal when he stripped Panarin of the puck and Connor Clifton setting up a Brad Marchand score when he aggressively pinched down toward the net off an offensive zone face-off win.
Certainly, all of that was good news, but the best news of all for the Black and Gold was that their workhorse defenseman McAvoy looked healthy and no worse for the wear after putting his body in harm’s way to lock down the waning seconds of a massive Game 5 victory for Boston.
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