Preview: Blue Jackets Try To Build Off First Playoff Victory
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to build off the first playoff victory in club history when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Monday's Game 3 battle at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus had been 0-5 all-time in postseason games before taking Game 2 in Pittsburgh on Saturday with a 4-3 double-overtime decision. The victory not only ended the Blue Jackets' playoff win drought, but also tied this best-of- seven series against the heavily-favored Penguins at one game apiece.
Matt Calvert's second goal of the contest, coming at 1:10 of the second overtime, gave Columbus its first-ever playoff victory. The Blue Jackets are playing in just their second postseason since entering the league as an expansion club for the 2000-01 campaign. Columbus first made the playoffs in 2009, but was swept in four games by Detroit.
Brandon Dubinsky fought off Pens forward Jussi Jokinen behind the net and fed the puck in front to Cam Atkinson, who missed from point-blank range on the right side. However, the rebound came out to Calvert, who made no mistake from the left wing.
"It's a big win for our hockey team and a lot of people back in Columbus who are devoted to this organization," noted Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards.
Jack Johnson and Ryan Johansen added tallies with David Savard contributing two assists for the Blue Jackets.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 39 pucks to record his first playoff win after nine appearances and three losses. The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner was 0-2 in seven postseason appearances -- three starts -- during his time with the Philadelphia Flyers and fell to 0-3 after Wednesday's Game 1 loss in Pittsburgh.
Brian Gibbons picked up a pair of first-period scores for the Penguins, who entered this postseason as winners of the Metropolitan Division and the second-best team in the East.
Matt Niskanen also lit the lamp and Sidney Crosby netted two helpers for the Penguins, who have dropped their last three multiple-overtime contests. Marc- Andre Fleury halted 41 shots in defeat.
Pittsburgh overcame a 3-1 deficit to take Game 1 by a 4-3 score, but on Saturday it was the Blue Jackets who successfully mounted a comeback. The Pens led 2-0 less than five minutes into the game and carried a 3-1 lead into the second period, but then went the final 63 minutes, 18 seconds of Game 2 without a goal.
"I think it's a missed opportunity," Niskanen said. "We're at home, Game 2, we're having a great first period, we have a two-goal lead. We're in complete control of the hockey game and whether it's a mistake or them capitalizing on an opportunity, the momentum changes and it took us a while to get back to playing."
Calvert scored a short-handed goal at 7:31 of the second period and Jack Johnson's power-play tally tied it at 3-3 with 6:01 remaining in regulation.
"The short-handed goal for us was, I thought, the difference maker in the game. It gave hope to our guys," Richards. "You could feel it on the bench. From that moment on I thought we played a very strong game."
Pittsburgh finished 16 points ahead of fourth-place Columbus in the Metropolitan and also went 5-0-0 against the Blue Jackets during the 2013-14 season series. However, the Jackets now have a chance to take control of the series with it all tied up and Games 3 and 4 being played at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets went 22-15-4 as the host this season, but Pittsburgh was 3-0 at Nationwide Arena this season and outscored Columbus 10-4 in those games.
Columbus has played the first two games without forward Nick Foligno, but he is expected to play in tonight's Game 3. Foligno was tied for fourth on the team with 18 goals in 70 games this season.