Meadville Tribune

Sports

April 23, 2014

Pens squander 3-0 lead as Jackets even up series

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno’s wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

The Blue Jackets overcame a 3-0 deficit for their first home playoff victory in the franchise’s 13 seasons, sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night tied 2-2.

Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, James Neal scored in a span of 5:01 of the first period to stake the Penguins to a 3-0 lead. But Ryan Johansen and Dubinsky each had a goal and an assist and Boone Jenner also scored for Columbus, making only its second postseason trip.

It was the fourth time in the series that the team that scored first — and also went on to hold a 3-1 lead — lost.

With the Penguins hanging on to a 3-2 lead in the third period, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a big save on Matt Calvert’s second shot in a flurry. Calvert later got behind Brooks Orpik on a breakaway and his forehand clanged off the crossbar, setting off a loud groan in the arena.

But Fleury was the culprit when he went behind the cage to handle Jack Johnson’s pass around the boards in the final minute. He whiffed trying to handle the puck and was stuck out of position, allowing Johansen to slide a centering pass through the crease where Dubinsky netted it with 22.5 seconds left.

What followed was the loudest sound heard in the Blue Jackets’ mostly dismal 13 seasons.

In the overtime, the Blue Jackets had the best of it — as they had for all but the start.

Foligno carried the puck through the neutral zone and was just across the blue line when he fired a low wrister that he tucked under Fleury’s glove. As the players piled on top of Foligno, the crowd went crazy.

Fleury had been brilliant throughout the third period, finishing with 42 saves. His Columbus counterpart, Sergei Bobrovsky, also was spectacular at times with 22 saves.

The Penguins rolled to a quick 3-0 lead and ended up with a dreaded 3-1 lead after a period — and once again it vanished.

Just 11 seconds after Jussi Jokinen was called for hooking, the Penguins took advantage of a James Wisniewski turnover near the blue line with Brandon Sutter carrying the puck through the neutral zone on a 2-on-1 break with Adams. Sutter flipped a backhander to Adams, whose rising shot from the right circle beat Bobrovsky high on the stick side at the 6:09 mark.

Pittsburgh quieted a loud capacity crowd with two goals in the span of 33 seconds in the middle of the opening period.

While on the power play after Derek MacKenzie went off for roughing, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Niskanen’s rocket from the right point was redirected by Kunitz.

Before the details of that goal could be announced, the Penguins won another faceoff in the offensive zone and Jokinen then beat the Blue Jackets’ R.J. Umberger to a loose puck. He tapped the puck with his outstretched stick toward the right hash mark where Neal unloaded a hard one-timer past Bobrovsky.

It was the first goals of the series for Adams, Kunitz and Neal, who combined for 67 goals in the regular season.

The Blue Jackets played well to close out the period. Their kill unit held off the Penguins on just over a minute of 5 on 3 and killed off two more penalties.

Then at the 16:39 mark, former Penguin Mark Letestu’s shot from the high slot was tipped in by Jenner, who had his back to Fleury as he muscled the puck past him.  

Columbus dominated the second period, scoring the only goal and outshooting the Penguins 18-6.

A double-minor penalty on Lee Stempniak for high sticking eventually led to the Blue Jackets scoring again, this time with a two-man advantage. The Penguins killed the first 2 minutes of the 4-minute penalty, but picked up another minor penalty when Sutter was called for delay of game. From low on the right wing, Brandon Dubinsky slid a centering pass that Artem Anisimov was able to deflect toward the goal line, with Johansen jamming in the loose puck at the 14:20 mark.

On yet another power play with just 5 seconds left in the period, the Blue Jackets almost got the tying goal but the puck bounced over Cam Atkinson’s stick when he had a wide open net.

From the time the Penguins built their 3-0 lead until the end of the second period, they were outshot 25-8.

Notes: The NHL announced earlier Wednesday that Game 5 will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Pittsburgh. ... Columbus was without rookie D Ryan Murray, who was wearing a boot after being hit with a puck in practice. Veteran Nick Schultz took his spot. ... Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said he was hopeful C Marcel Goc (ankle) may be able to play in the series. ... Likely NHL MVP Crosby has not scored a goal in his last nine playoff games and Evgeni Malkin hasn’t found the net in his last eight.

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