The Columbus Blue Jackets started their first Stanley Cup Playoffs game in four years with plenty of energy, but a three-goal second period from the Pittsburgh Penguins led to a 3-1 Game 1 loss at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh in the best-of-seven series.
Going forward, the Blue Jackets (0-1) know that to get back into the series against the Penguins (1-0), they need to be consistent with their efforts.
“We’ve got to try to stay the same way and play the same way, which brought us success in the first,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “We’ve got to get right back to that. It’s a game of momentum. They’re going to score some goals.
“We’ve got to be able to answer and respond the right way, and I think it put us on our heels a little bit. I think we had a pretty good third period and something to build on in Game 2. It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. We talked about investing after the second period, and sometimes, investments take a little longer to pay off.”
Columbus Blue Jackets aim for consistency as Stanley Cup Playoffs continue
The Blue Jackets outshot the Penguins, 16-3, in the first 20 minutes of play, but Pittsburgh responded well in the second period and put three pucks into the back of the net of Sergei Bobrovsky, a likely candidate for the Vezina Trophy.
With solid pursuit up the ice, the Penguins got on the scoreboard at the 1:15 mark of the second period.
After center Evgeni Malkin controlled the puck at the blue line along the near boards, he sent a pass across the ice to right winger Phil Kessel. Quickly, Kessel slipped a pass to fellow right winger Bryan Rust into the slot between the faceoff circles, and the second-year forward rifled a wrist shot past Bobrovsky on the stick side.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, Kessel netted a power-play goal, which gave the Penguins a 2-0 advantage over the Blue Jackets.
“They got that first one and they put us on our heels a little bit,” Dubinsky said. “They got some momentum with the second. We just played a stretch there in the second of some not so good minutes, lost momentum and couldn’t get it back.”
Captain Nick Foligno added, “It’s just that lull. You’ve got to try to find a way to minimize those. Also, offensive guys in here, we’ve got to find a way to capitalize. Their offensive guys did, we didn’t and that’s pretty much the difference in the game.”
The Blue Jackets netted their only goal of the game on a Pittsburgh turnover in its own zone.
With Marc-Andre Fleury trying to control the puck behind the goal, Calvert applied pressure and helped force the turnover. Forward Josh Anderson tipped the puck back to Calvert, and he put it beyond Fleury’s reach on the glove side and into the upper corner of the net.
“We’ve got to find a way to get to the net more,” Foligno said. “There’s guys on this team that need to play around there, myself included. That’s where we have success. It’s playoff hockey, so you know it’s going to be a grind, but you’ve got to enjoy that part of it, and hopefully, we’ll do that in Game 2.”