In one corner, Artemi Panarin: A shifty, dynamic Blue Jackets winger with 116 goals and 320 career points in just four full NHL campaigns, and enough skill to leave even the most steady defensemen tangled in a heap of themselves during one-on-one situations.
In the other, Brandon Carlo: A promising 22-year-old blueliner for Boston — but still green when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with just 11 postseason contests under his belt entering Saturday night.
On the scoreboard above them: A dire situation for the Bruins at TD Garden — with Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals stuck in a 3-3 deadlock with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
Momentum was back on Columbus’ side in the final stanza, with the Jackets erasing a pair of two-goal deficits thanks to three tallies scored on four shots — all within the span 3:27 of ice time.
And with Panarin — now up to 25 points in 22 career postseason games — coasting into the Bruins’ zone with 1:40 left, the Jackets liked their chances once again. The one thing standing between the Russian winger and a Grade-A bid against Tuukka Rask?
Carlo — who, rather than collapse back in order to put his 6-foot-5 frame between the puck and Rask, opted to engage Panarin head-on as the forward cut in from the left circle and toward the slot.
A bold move from the young defenseman, but one that didn’t make Torey Krug blink twice.
A prototypical stay-at-home presence on the blue line, Carlo’s highlight reel may not as extensive as more fleet-footed defensemen like Krug or Charlie McAvoy.
But challenge the soft-spoken D-man at your own risk.