7:30 p.m. – After the first 12 minutes of this game, this series was over. The Penguins had jumped out to a 3-0 lead, Columbus looked tired, and the Penguins were roaring.
10:03 p.m. – EVERYTHING CHANGED.
What happened in those two and a half hours is still a blur, but we’re all beginning to piece it together. It was the will of Columbus and the complacency of the Penguins. It was an awful series of events for Marc-Andre Fleury. It was the Penguins’ offense completely disappearing. It was the brilliant efforts from Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky.
But now’s not the time to devolve into Randy Quaid’s character from the “Major League” movies. Take a look at the Columbus’ goals: fluke deflection, 5-on-3 slam-dunk goal, and the worst bounce at the worst possible time for a goaltender.
Is this a bad loss? Yes. It is a major collapse. Good teams don’t blow 3-0 leads in the playoffs. Is it a surprising loss? Not anymore. We’ve all seen this fish many times before.
And the silence from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Forget goals; has Crosby or Malkin done anything even memorable in the four games? Malkin hasn’t even taken his signature retaliation penalty…yet. People are talking about how one or both are due for a breakout game, but it’s getting tight now.
It has come down to a best-of-3, with the opener at CONSOL. We’ll take that every time. Game 5 is Saturday night, 7:00. Anything short of Sting coming down from the rafters is a possibility in this series now.
The Pens came out ready to dance. But the Jackets eventually countered and started getting to their hitting game. Before you knew it, the Jackets were on the PP for a Jokinen hook.
Sutter won the initial PK faceoff. Circle that. Because the puck went back to Martin, who bounced it off the glass. Wisniewski couldn’t get a handle on it, and Adams picked it up and went on a 2-on-1 with Sutter. Adams’ shot found the net behind Bob. 1-0.
Pens killed the rest, and Crosby/Kunitz had a break the other way. But then there was another break, when Crosby’s stick snapped when he was about to shoot it into Bob’s glove.
Pens got their own PP when MacKenzie went to the box for an interesting roughing call. Money Bags shot one from the point, and it hit Kunitz on its way in. 2-0.
Niskanen is going to have dump trucks deliver his paycheck every two weeks next season. A life-maker of a season and postseason for him.
33 seconds later, the Jackets still had no idea what was happening. Jokinen got a loose puck to Neal, who was wide open. 3-0.
That was it. Game. Set. Series. 3-0 lead. The crowd was dead, and the Penguins looked really strong.
Columbus head coach Todd Richards took their timeout. They needed some kind of boost when play resumed, but they still couldn’t get it. Anisimov went off for hooking Maatta. Looked like Maatta just fell, but it would’ve led to a great scoring chance, so the ref had to call it.
A Jacket slashed Kunitz, and he fell, so they both went off. A 5-on-3 would have been instant death for the Jackets. You never see diving calls attached to a slash, so that was strange.
Before you knew it, Neal was going off for another offensive-zone penalty. The Jackets got a brief powerplay, and they took advantage. Letestu shot one in the slot that hit Jenner’s thigh and bounced over MAF’s head. 3-1.
It was ugly as sin, but it gave the Jackets a pulse. Orpik’s goal in Game 3 did the same thing for the Pens.
The second was the period of the Jackets. They came out swinging from the get-go. But they had to kill off a high-sticking penalty first, which they did.
Then they had their own stretch of PPs when Stempniak went off for a 4-minute high stick and Sutter threw one over the glass. We know players will argue that call a lot, but you rarely see two veteran defensemen like Orpik and Martin completely incensed by the call, so we were initially doubting it was a penalty.
Orpik and Martin lied. But the puck don’t lie. Never touched Dubinsky, which proves he was everywhere in this game again.
Ended up being a 5-on-3 for the Jackets, and they cashed in easily. 3-2.
The rest of it was killed, but the Jackets were alive again, and so was their crowd. The Jackets still had legs and forced Niskanen to take a tripping penalty. He had a good time with the fans while in the box, too:
The Jackets outshot the Penguins 18-6 in the second period.
When we look back on this third period years down the line, we’ll see it in parts.
1. Columbus was balls to the wall for the first 3:30.
Marc-Andre Fleury was incredible and in control.
2. The Jackets running out of juice with 12 mins left.
The Penguins had a ton of chances to get that fourth goal. Crosby had a golden chance, but he missed the net. The Jackets were sucking wind big-time.
3. Matt Calvert basically ripping Orpik’s sac on this move.
Never seen a player get faked out so bad. Big play by Kunitz getting back to disrupt the shot.
4. Penguins get a huge power play at the 10:14 mark.
James Wisniewski is in a secret contest with Kris Letang to see who can take more bad third-period penalties. Wisniewski tripped Tanner Glass most likely because he didn’t know it was Tanner Glass who had gotten past him. The Pens PP was the hot mess express.
5. The 5th Line.
All of the Jackets fans were on their feet for last couple minutes of the game. They were ready to explode. The Jackets fed off of it, and they were all-in.
Jack Johnson (there he is again) dumps the puck in with 29.2 seconds left.
Marc-Andre Fleury decides to try and play it.
The puck takes a terrible bounce on Fleury. Ryan Johansen gets there first and attempts a centering pass.
Dubinsky isn’t even in Ohio yet:
Just a blind pass by Johansen. Dubinsky finally in the picture.
No one picks up Dubinsky…
The Penguins were outshot 5-1 in OT. After being in a defensive shell for most of the game, they weren’t ready to switch gears while the Jackets smelled blood.
The Columbus crowd stood for the beginning of overtime all the way through to Foligno’s winner. Would be interesting to see what their breaking point is for standing up.
First up was Umberger blocking a shot even with his face looking like this:
Then Nick Foligno gave NWA a reason to dance at 2:49 of OT.
- Tanner Glass hitting himself if you missed it.
- In the stands reaction in Columbus.
- Joe Vitale still exists. Go back and look at Vitale’s last two shifts. Just awful.
- Quiet game from Stempniak.
- Kunitz looks like he’s coming around.
- Tanner Glass gave Bobs a snow shower worse than Foligno did in Game 3. No call.
- Paul Martin leads the NHL in playoff scoring: