Blue Jackets on brink after loss to Pens

The Columbus Blue Jackets were looking to take their first-ever lead in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series with a win in Saturday's game five against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center, but Jussi Jokinen had other ideas.

Pittsburgh's left winger scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 13:44 to play in the third period of the Penguins' 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. With the win, Pittsburgh will carry a 3-2 series advantage into game six Monday in Columbus.

After right winger Lee Stempniak skated around a Blue Jackets defender and rifled a wrist shot on net, center Brandon Sutter tried to knock in the loose puck. Then, Jokinen controlled a rebound on the glove side of Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and backhanded it into the net.

"I thought the first period was probably our best period," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "I thought they took it to another level in the second. They started winning battles and we spent too much time in our own zone. We didn't have much of a fore-check. It put a lot of pressure on our defense and on our goaltender."

The Blue Jackets had been able to outhit the Penguins by a nearly two-to-one margin for much of the first-round series, but Pittsburgh outshot Columbus, 51 to 24, in its win on Saturday night. They had more shots in the first two periods, 36, than Columbus had in the entire game, and nearly matched the Blue Jackets' game total when they fired 21 shots on Bobrovsky in the second period.

It was during the second period that the Penguins erased a 1-0 lead the Blue Jackets gained when rookie center Boone Jenner jammed home a power play goal 12:55 into the first.

The Penguins were the best power play team in the NHL during the regular season, and they tallied the equalizer on the man advantage in the second period. With Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski in the penalty box for a cross-checking infraction against Pittsburgh center Joe Vitale, left winger Chris Kunitz wristed a shot past Bobrovsky for the goal.

"They did a lot of things," Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said. "They played a good game tonight. They were skating. They were getting in front of our net. It was a higher level from them tonight, and I don't think we had the same level."

Richards added, "When we had opportunities to dump it, they weren't great dumps, didn't have the speed we needed to get in on the fore-check. They executed coming out of their own zone, and, at times, we were sloppy with the puck, which led to turnovers and spending more time in our own zone. The coach (Dan Bylsma) challenged them and they responded. Now, we have to do the same thing on Monday."


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment