In a span of two minutes and 13 seconds, the Columbus Blue Jackets went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
Much like what happened in the first two games of the best-of-seven series in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a team failed to hold on to a 3-1 lead. In front of 19,148 postseason-starved hockey fans at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets jumped out to a two goal lead after the first period. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored three unanswered goals of their own and claimed a 4-3 victory Monday night.
With the win, Pittsburgh reclaimed home-ice advantage and leads the series, 2-1, heading into Wednesday's game four in Columbus.
"We made a couple mistakes, and they're a team, where if you make a couple mistakes, they get momentum," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "They started skating, and I thought that was different. I don't think it was an attitude of stepping off the gas.
"I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. Maybe, it creates a little more desperation in the team that's trailing."
Pittsburgh center Brandon Sutter started the rally when he tipped a deflection off of a shot from defenseman Paul Martin past the glove of Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Then, 70 seconds later, right winger Lee Stempniak took a pass from left winger Chris Kunitz and wristed a shot across the red line for the goal, his first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Defenseman Olli Maatta gave the Penguins their first -- and only -- lead of the game with 11:54 to play in the third period.
Maatta's goal was set up by a Columbus miscue, as left winger R.J. Umberger turned the puck over to right winger James Neal, who then fed a pass to Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins' skilled center slid the puck to Maatta, who then rifled a slap shot off of Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski and into the net.
"It was two seeing-eye shots and a missed coverage through the neutral zone by me," Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said. "I can't let Stempniak beat me up the ice there. Mistakes are going to happen. It's how you respond. We'll have a good day to learn from our mistakes and have an opportunity to respond here in two days."
The third period effort was in stark contrast to how the Blue Jackets started the game, as they held a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into their first home playoff contest in five years.
Center Boone Jenner was on the doorstep of the crease when Jack Skille took a drop pass from Ryan Johansen and put a shot on net. The rebound found Jenner's stick and he flipped it past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the first tally of the night.
Then, at the 3:18 mark of the first period, Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson collected a rebound off of a shot from Dubinsky and wristed it past Fleury's stick. By giving the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead, Johnson tallied his third goal of the postseason.
Cam Atkinson put the Blue Jackets in front by the dreaded 3-1 margin when he deflected Dubinsky's backhanded shot attempt into the net. Dubinsky had taken possession of the puck in Columbus' defensive zone when Matt Calvert batted it to him, and then, he skated his way through Pittsburgh's defense before attempting the shot.
"Just because we have a fast start, doesn't mean that we can't maintain that all the way through," Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno said. "It was just a lapse in getting pucks behind them and giving their (defense) a little more time to make a play, and now, their forwards have it, and that's a dangerous situation.
"I think it's just committing to that aspect every game and every shift, and knowing that when you do that, the outcome is real positive, and we saw that in game two. It's funny how maybe the team that's playing from behind plays a little more desperate and that's why they have more opportunities. We have to be able to play with a lead in the playoffs."