If you were to watch just the first five minutes of this 2014 NHL Playoff game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, you would think that the Penguins skated off with an easy victory in this first round matchup. However, if you watched the proceeding periods and overtime of this game, it was anything but a stroll through the park for the Penguins.
The Penguins got the start they wanted and desired as they watched their rookie forward, Brian Gibbons, tally his first and second career playoff goals to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead, the second being a dramatic short handed tally. It was the remainder of that same power play that saw the Blue Jackets cut the lead in half.
It was after that goal that the Penguins’ game started to slowly deteriorate. Even after Matt Niskanen gave the Penguins another two-goal lead, it wasn’t enough to hold off the surging Blue Jackets.
When the Penguins took a 3-2 lead into the third period, there wasn’t a person in Consol Energy Center that felt comfortable with that lead the way the Penguins were playing.
Low and behold, the Blue Jackets finally got the game-tying goal when defenseman Jack Johnson rifled a power-play goal past Marc Andre Fleury sending this game to overtime.
With the game hanging in the balance, it was only 1:10 into the second overtime when Matt Calvert took advantage of a Penguins turnover to even the series and send them back to Columbus with all the momentum. The win was the first postseason win in the Blue Jackets’ brief history.
For the Penguins, this loss was devastating. Not only did they lose at home, but after scoring three first period goals, were stymied by Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for the remaining three periods.
It was the Blue Jackets that weathered the early storm and proved to be a team that isn’t just happy to make the postseason, but a team to be reckoned with.
The series continues on Monday in Columbus, and if you’ve watched this series closely, it is as “must-win” of a Game 3 for the Penguins as any Game 3 could be in these NHL Playoffs.
Although all isn’t lost for the second place team in the Eastern Conference, their flaws and lack of composure are glaring and the Blue Jackets are taking advantage of every opportunity. That could be a recipe for disaster for the Penguins and their fans.