The Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins are down to a best-of-three series now that they are tied at 2-2.
With Columbus' 4-3 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in game four of their opening round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena Wednesday night, the Blue Jackets head back to the Steel City with the series even at 2-2.
But instead of celebrating, the Blue Jackets are focused on winning their second game in Pittsburgh tonight in game five.
"It's a best-of-three," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We're guaranteed another home game here with game six. I think that's great for our fans and for our organization, but for right now, our focus is on Saturday. We've got to start focusing on Saturday.
"It's not going to be easy. This is a team that has won. They know what it takes to win. They've played a lot of 2-2 series before. For a lot of our guys, it's going to be a new experience. They're going to come out and they're going to play. We've got to be ready for the first period because I'm expecting them to come out with the same energy, the way they come out and play in game two. We've got to be ready for that."
According to Richards, the Blue Jackets must be ready for anything at the Consol Energy Center tonight.
"To me, it's the determination coming into game five," Richards said. "It's not going to be easy in their building. It's going to be loud. There's going to be lots of things that we've got to deal with, and we've got to be ready for those things, whatever it is. A bad goal for us, a penalty, a non-call. Whatever it is, we've got to be ready to respond to it."
For the fourth straight game, the Blue Jackets outhit the Penguins. On Wednesday night, the Blue Jackets handed out 51 hits and limited the Penguins to one goal in their four power plays.
The Penguins entered the postseason with the top-rated power play unit in the NHL.
"They've got the home-ice advantage, but we've proven we can beat them in their building," defenseman James Wisniewski said. "We've got to play a great team again on Saturday, and it's going to be another war, so we better be ready for it, and I think we will be."
Fellow defenseman Jack Johnson added, "The pressure probably is on them because all of (the media) said they're the favorites to win, and that would naturally turn it towards them, but in the playoffs, seeding doesn't matter. The L.A. Kings proved that when they were an eight seed and pretty much ran the table. You've just got to make the playoffs. There's probably really no favorites when you get into the playoffs."
And it is that spirit and fight in the Blue Jackets that center Brandon Dubinsky "loves about this team," especially heading into game five on the road.
"We stuck with it, and we just kept working," Dubinsky said. "We're a resilient group. We stuck with it and found a way to win a huge game against a great hockey team and knot this thing up at two and give ourselves an opportunity go into Pittsburgh and take a lead in the series."