The 5th Line. Maybe that’s where the good players were.
Jacket fans stood for the opening, and then Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby put them in their seats. They stood united, but they fell one after the other. Their dreams of seeing another unlikely playoff win faded like a spring sun in shitty Ohio. The Jackets definitely made it a game late, but they still ended up on the loser’s side of the handshake line.
This game wasn’t about the late flourish by the Jackets; it was about two of the best players in the world making it known why they are who they are. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby played a man’s game. Malkin got the goals (3), and Crosby did the work setting them up. So many times in their careers, they’ve been measured against one another. One’s failures and weaknesses used as ammo to show why the other is better. But to watch them play on the same line, a decision they made, was awesome. Game 5 was a warm-up, and Game 6 was where the motor was revving. The Jackets just didn’t have an answer.
The real fun begins now. The lead-up into Game 6 was the first time this felt like a playoff series, whereas there is hate already festering for the next one, and we don’t even know who the Penguins will play yet.
We didn’t know about this before the series — Jackets fans screaming the anthem singer’s name after they introduce him.
If these two teams dance next season, it would be great to hear all the Pens fans in attendance scream “SUCKS” after the crowd screams “LEO.”
CHESS MATCH STARTED EARLY
The 5th Line was ready to jizz the minute the Jackets entered the Pens’ zone, but the Pens were exiting the zone within 10-15 seconds every time.
The Penguins gave the Jackets the appearance that they were going to roll their normal lines from Games 1-4. They had one full rotation with Crosby and Malkin apart.
But about four minutes in, Neal-Sutter-Jokinen got the nod. Then Glass-Vitale-Bennett had a blistering shift. Then Stempniak-Goc-Adams. It all circled back to Crosby and Malkin entering the dance. Three minutes later, on their next shift together, the big boys broke out:
How do you leave Malkin all alone there? Wisniewski might be the worst D-man in the NHL. 1-0.
The first 10 minutes was the best stretch the Pens have played since before the Olympics, and it looked good.
The Penguins got unbelievable chances from the Sutter line in the first. Columbus was getting frustrated, and Nick Foligno took a horrible penalty. And on the power play, the Penguins made Foligno pay the price. Niskanen had an incredible keep. Malkin lurked, and Crosby hit him with a one-touch pass just as Malkin got into the sweet spot in the high slot.
2-0. Love the Johnson troll at the end.
Nick Foligno, your thoughts:
Columbus didn’t do anything all period until Craig Adams had a really bad turnover. They gained some momentum after that and drew a penalty. Their power play looked like shit, and the period ended.
- CBJ went a 10:04 stretch without a shot.
- Malkin’s Fenwick and Corsi combined was your mom.
The Jackets still had some of the power play to start the period, but it would go down in flames. As the power play expired, James Wisniewski made a huge mistake and turned the puck over to Brandon Sutter. Sutter had a breakaway all alone on Bob. Stempniak skated into formation after getting out of the box, but Sutter was taking it to the hole.
3-0. Sutter had a big-time series.
Right after that goal, Crosby hit the post. It should’ve reminded the Jackets that it was only 3-0 at that point and not all was lost.
The Jackets began turning it up. It looked like they were willing to do anything for a goal.
With about 8 minutes left in the second, Glass sent Wisniewski flying into the boards with a hit. It was borderline, but still a penalty. Both referees raised their arms for the call. It just looked like Wisniewski didn’t want to play anymore and was trying to get hurt.
Sutter was the one who got hurt, on this weird play:
After the Pens killed that off, Malkin scored again. It would be the game-winner and should have been the dagger right then and there.
The Pens had to kill off a Crosby slash late in the second. MAF and the PK kept the Blue Jackets off the board, and it was Columbus’ last gasp…or so it seemed.
Malkin was feeling the pressure when the third period started. He hadn’t scored in a little under 5 minutes of game time. Something had to give.
But it looked like Vitale’s knee is what gave after he tried to take out Blake Comeau’s knee:
Really dangerous play and really out of character for Vitale, who’s usually not having an impact on the game. If you don’t think he left his right leg out to make contact with Comeau, you haven’t been watching hockey for very long and probably haven’t been a human being for very long, either. He had Comeau in his sights after his hit on Bennett earlier in the shift.
Vitale got a penalty for interference, and the Pens had to kill it. After the kill, everything was seemingly still roses.
Not sure what the Penguins’ game plan was for the final 10 minutes, but it’s safe to say it didn’t go over too well. We don’t want to relive it because it would have been nearly one of the most terrible things to ever happen, but let’s go.
HOW COLUMBUS ALMOST SHOCKED THE WORLD
Fedor Tyutin scored a shorthanded goal to make it 4-1. No big deal. The final throes of a dying animal like when a lobster’s tail thrashes as it’s getting boiled alive.
Two minutes later, Paul Martin gets called for a trip. Okay. Kill it. But Artem Anisimov scored. 4-2.
Bylsma uses his time-out.
Then this happens off the very next fucking face-off:
Only time will tell, but this save on Matt Calvert could go down as Fleury’s biggest save since the one on Nick Lidstrom in Game 7. It’s not like there are any other contenders in this category.
Why was the Calvert save so huge? Because 75 seconds later, Foligno scored…
…and it was 4-3.
Bob Cole on CBC: “I can’t believe what’s going on. Can you?”
THE FINAL THREE MINUTES
CBC coming back from commercial for the homestretch:
Dude in the Malkin jersey has definitely seen some shit. He’s ready to roll.
It didn’t even seem logical that the Jackets were in the game. The 5th Line was sacrificing babies in the crowd trying to get the tying goal. The Pens would have to hang on for dear life.
Todd Richards went to the Roy School of Goalie Pulls and gave his boys nearly 2 minutes to try and tie it. The Pens had a couple chances to ice it. Looked like Craig Adams had a clear look at the net but decided to skate away with the puck. And Crosby tried to backhand one in from the red line.
The Jackets didn’t get another good look at the net, which, again, makes Fleury’s save on Calvert huuuuge.
GAME. SET. SERIES.
- This furious comeback planted a seed in young Blue Jackets fans, and for the rest of their lives they’ll always think an improbable comeback is possible.
- Losing Vitale’s body and Sutter’s talent hurt the Pens in the third.
- Series recap on Tuesday.
- Seriously, Stephen S. is the best: