2014 NHL Playoffs: Pittsburgh Penguins Thwart Columbus Blue Jackets

By Jeff Hartman
Pittsburgh Penguins
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

What a strange and unusual series this has been between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets. After the Penguins’ thrilling 4-3 victory over the Blue Jackets in Game 3, the downright oddity that has become this 2014 NHL Playoffs first round series continues.

In all three games, the team that has scored first and developed a two-goal lead has lost. The Blue Jackets stormed out to a 3-1 lead in Game 1 and lost 4-3. The Penguins followed suit in Game 2, only to see the Blue Jackets steal the game in double overtime, winning 4-3. Game 3 was no different as the Blue Jackets scored two goals in the first four minutes of the hockey game only to see their lead slowly evaporate.

The only thing is, this wasn’t just a blown lead. The Blue Jackets were outpacing and outplaying the Penguins in every facet of the game. The Penguins were struggling just to exit their defensive zone, let alone actually get a quality scoring chance against Sergei Bobrovsky. Nonetheless, with :01 left in the second period, the unlikeliest of heroes emerged for the Penguins.

It was Brooks Orpik‘s nifty handle from a Beau Bennett feed followed by a dangle around a defender and a shot that shocked Bobrovsky and opened the door for the Penguins. The Blue Jackets responded with the first goal of the third period to give them a 3-1 lead, and the ever so dangerous two-goal lead.

Next, the nearly impossible happened as the Penguins scored three goals on four shots to give the team the lead that was never relinquished.

A lot will be written about Bobrovsky, and he was spectacular at times, but Marc Andre Fleury deserves a tremendous amount of credit for getting the Penguins the victory. After a shaky start, Fleury was able to lock down the defensive end of the ice when the defense in front of him did little to help. Quite frankly, Fleury is the main reason the Penguins are now leading this series 2-1.

Not only did the Penguins steal a victory from the jaws of defeat, but they have retaken the momentum in this frantic playoff series. The question now is whether they can keep the momentum, or surrender it back to the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

In this series, nothing is safe.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on  Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+.

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