Despite Wednesday's loss, the Columbus Blue Jackets believe they can win their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was direct when saying what his team's mission was heading into their best-of-seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And despite Wednesday night's 4-3 setback, in which the Blue Jackets gave up three unanswered goals and let go of a 3-1 lead, the mission has not changed.
"We're here to win, and that's the big thing," Richards said. "The learning is through the process, but we aren't here just to go to school. We're here. Our guys are competitive. I know that they believe, so we're here to win.
"The learning comes through the experience, and that's what I take away from it. There's disappointment in losing because we all come in here expecting to win and it didn't happen."
In Richards' words, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are about winning, not so much learning, but the Blue Jackets did a bit of learning from the loss.
The Blue Jackets were out to a two-goal lead after center Derek MacKenzie tallied a short-hander 43 seconds into the second period, but they allowed three straight scores in the 4-3 loss to the Penguins. They took just three penalties against the Penguins Wednesday night, but Pittsburgh turned them into two goals.
"We've got to stay together through this series," defenseman Ryan Murray said. "We've got to stick to the game plan and not stray away from that. We're a hard-nosed team and that's how we're going to win. We've got to win the battles. Late in the third, they were winning a lot of battles against us. We've got to win those battles on the walls and in the corners if we're going to win."
Pittsburgh answered the Blue Jackets' short-handed tally with goals from Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen 45 seconds apart. Bennett scored his goal on the power play after Blake Comeau took a cross-checking penalty against Brian Gibbons.
Then, Gibbons drew an interference penalty from Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, which led to Niskanen's snap shot past Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
"We can't give them those power plays like that, whether it's a bounce or what," center Brandon Dubinsky said.
"We've just got to make sure that we clean up our turnovers and take care of the puck. We can't give them odd-man rushes and we gave them a couple too many odd-man rushes and they finally made us pay. Like I said, I like the way we battled and I think our guys know what to expect and we'll be ready come Saturday."