The Columbus Blue Jackets leveled nearly 50 hits against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Columbus Blue Jackets came into their second-ever Stanley Cup Playoffs series determined to play a physical brand of hockey, and when they stepped onto the ice at the Consol Energy Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night, they did just that.
Although, the Blue Jackets gave up three straight goals in the second and third periods that led a 4-3 loss, they delivered 48 hits, 21 more than Pittsburgh handed out in game one of the best-of-seven series.
"It's the type of game we wanted," center Mark Letestu told Fox Sports Ohio after the game. "We wanted to establish that right from the start. The game went as we thought it would. Their special teams played a big key, and that one puck play at the blue line kind of cost us."
Defenseman Jack Johnson added, "We're a pretty physical team. We've got big, strong guys that don't shy away from physicality. That's just part of our game, so we're going to make sure that's part of our game every night. If it's not, then, there is something wrong."
Letestu and Johnson combined to hand out four hits, but center Brandon Dubinsky was the Blue Jacket who dished out the most physical punishment.
In addition to handing out an assist, Dubinsky led the way with a game-high nine hits and had a plus-one rating when he was on the ice as the Blue Jackets outpaced the Penguins by a goal during his 20:29 of playing time.
"It's the playoffs and it's a tough game out there," Dubinsky said. "I like the way our guys fought, I like the way our guys played.
"I mean you've got to do whatever you can to try and find an edge, try to find a win. Like I said before, they got some great players over there and some of the best in the world. You've got to do your best to make it tough on them. As a team, I think we'll continue to get better at doing that."
As the series continues, defenseman Ryan Murray believes the Blue Jackets need to follow the example Dubinsky set in game one.
"We've just got to keep playing, just keep playing Blue Jackets hockey," Murray said. "We were right there, so close. Two quick power play goals by them, but if those don't go in, we would've had a lot better chance.
"Toward the end, I had a golden opportunity in the slot, and I've got to put that in. If I do, we're right back in there and we've got a chance to win. We've got to stick to our game plan. We can't get away from who we are. That's dumping pucks, getting in there and bruising and battling and hitting."
Like Murray, Columbus coach Todd Richards felt the Blue Jackets played with enough physicality "at some points" in the game, but that needs to improve for game two on Saturday night.
"We weren't playing to our strengths," Richards said. "Our strengths are getting the puck below the goal line and investing in the physical play on their defensemen and trying to wear them down and creating the turnovers down there.
"Those turnovers at the offensive blue line, with players coming forward, they're tough to recover from. It's the lateral plays into the middle of the ice because when you've got guys driving, our defensemen on the last goal, two-on-one, he's looking to get up into the play and there's a quick turnover and this is a team that will transition on you and that's what they did."