It has been quiet, far too quiet in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ dressing room lately.
During the regular season, the Blue Jackets created their own postgame celebration after victories, but they have yet to blast music in the dressing room in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as the Pittsburgh Penguins have taken the first three games of the opening-round best-of-seven series.
And although Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is not a fan of the players’ kind of music, he wants to hear it booming throughout Nationwide Arena in Columbus after Game 4 tonight.
“We’re not even looking at 3-0,” Tortorella said. “This team has played really well this year and has grown tremendously. I do not want them leaving tonight not enjoying a playoff win. Then, we’ll talk about what we have to do.
“They play this crap for music after the game. I want them to be able to put that on and just jam with it so they can feel good about themselves. Then, we can decide how we approach the rest of the series from there.”
Columbus Blue Jackets take on Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of opening round of Stanley Cup Playoffs
Despite having a two-goal lead in Game 3, the Blue Jackets just could not shut the door on the Penguins, as center Jake Guentzel tallied a hat trick and fueled the offensive attack in the 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Columbus in overtime.
“No matter what period we’re in, we have to have the puck more,” Tortorella said. “I think a little bit of a deciding factor in Game 3 was they had the puck more, a lot more than the first two games. I thought we did a really good job of having it, so that’s going to be very important tonight.”
The Blue Jackets started Game 3 aggressively, and the early pursuit resulted in a goal just 11 seconds into the game, marking the first time Columbus held a lead over Pittsburgh after 120 minutes of hockey in the postseason.
Columbus controlled the opening face-off against the nearside boards, and after a brief tie up from the Penguins, Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky and left winger Nick Foligno helped push the puck into the attack zone.
Dubinsky put the initial shot on net, and when the puck caromed away from Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, right winger Cam Atkinson jammed home the rebound for the quickest playoff goal in the 17-year history of the Blue Jackets.
Although the Penguins drew even when Guentzel buried a loose puck into the net, Columbus went back in front when Atkinson tallied his second goal of the game.
The Penguins attempted to get the puck from behind their own net and into the neutral zone, but Atkinson skated into the passing lane, earned the takeaway, pushed toward the crease, got Fleury off-balance and slipped a backhanded shot under him for the goal.
The Blue Jackets built upon their lead when 19-year old rookie defenseman Zach Werenski scored on the power play with 13:50 left in the first period. Initially, one on-ice official waved off the goal, but after a replay review, the shot was ruled a good goal.
And it is that kind of effort the Blue Jackets want for a full 60 minutes tonight.
“We know we’re in a hole,” Tortorella said. “It does not change how we go about our business. I think our team has played hard, has had some struggles along through the game here, but we’re not changing our approach in how we’re supposed to play and how we’re preparing for the game.”