Playoff takeaways: Anonymous Bruins contributing, Tarasenko steals show
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The Boston Bruins' top-six forward group requires no introduction.

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and Jake DeBrusk are household names, and the sixth piece, sophomore winger Danton Heinen, is playing his way into the hockey world's consciousness.

Meanwhile, Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle, two more recognizable faces, drive the third line. The duo starred in Boston's 3-2 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, with Coyle scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals. The Bruins now lead the best-of-seven, second-round series 1-0.

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Now, while the top six plus Johansson and Coyle - let's call it the top eight - no doubt carries the Bruins' offense, four forwards still need to fill out head coach Bruce Cassidy's lineup card every night. Usually, that's third-line right winger Chris Wagner and a fourth line consisting of Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom, and Noel Acciari.

But these relatively anonymous NHLers aren't hanging on for dear life, or simply enjoying the playoff ride. The fourth line, in particular, has managed to put its stamp on the early stages of Boston's run. The trio's contributed only 15 percent of the team's 26 goals, but its production has coincided with some key moments, including Acciari's shorthanded marker on Thursday.

Acciari, who went unpicked in the NHL draft and then signed with the Bruins as a college free agent in 2017, hopped on his horse midway through the first period and made the Jackets pay. Pierre-Luc Dubois had turned the puck over at the Bruins' blue line and Acciari countered with a straight-line rush.

The 27-year-old Acciari is in his second full NHL season. He's earning every cent of his $725,000 salary, leading all Boston forwards in shorthanded ice time so far by skating on the penalty kill for just over two minutes per game.

Kuraly, a Cassidy favorite, is Acciari's PK partner. The 133rd pick in the 2011 draft was acquired in the Martin Jones trade with the San Jose Sharks and makes $1.275 million. The feisty, smart, and responsible 26-year-old missed the first four contests of Round 1 to nurse a broken hand before scoring a huge goal in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs while adding an assist.

Nordstrom, a 2010 third-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, is also in his mid-20s (27) and cheap ($1 million). An unrestricted free-agent signing last July, he plays 1:29 a night on the PK and has a pair of goals and an assist in these playoffs.

When you do the math, that's four goals and three assists for seven points in eight postseason games from three penalty-killing fourth-liners. The Bruins' PK, by the way, has allowed just three goals on 20 power-play opportunities. Combined, Acciari, Kuraly, and Nordstrom eat up roughly $3 million in cap space.

Not. Too. Shabby.

Tarasenko burns Stars

The St. Louis Blues-Dallas Stars series, which also opened Thursday, is being viewed by many through the lens of goaltending. And why not? Jordan Binnington and Ben Bishop are two of the world's finest netminders right now.

Yet, as the Blues drew first blood, winning Game 1 in Missouri by a final score of 3-2, it was forward Vladimir Tarasenko who stole the show.

Tarasenko had a trying regular season by his lofty standards, finishing with 33 goals and 35 assists for 68 points in 78 games. Then he bagged two in St. Louis' opening-round series against the Winnipeg Jets. Decent.

Was it all a warm up? A warning to the rest of the Western Conference?

On Thursday, Tarasenko solved Bishop twice, doubling his playoff goal tally in the process. The Russian's sniping ability was the difference in a game with only 49 combined shots.

His first of the night went five-hole and capped off a pretty few seconds of post-faceoff puck movement from the Blues' top power-play unit. It was the definition of a goal-scorer's goal. Accurate as hell. Released quick. Vintage Tarasenko.

On his second, Tarasenko blew past Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen off the rush and roofed the puck after eluding a Bishop poke check. It came at five-on-five against a stud rookie, but boy, you could see the goal coming from a mile away.

Plain and simple: If Dallas plans on stealing one game on the road, it better have an answer for No. 91 in blue during Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

John Matisz is theScore's National Hockey Writer. You can find him on Twitter @matiszjohn.

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Playoff takeaways: Anonymous Bruins contributing, Tarasenko steals show
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