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RECAP: GAME THREE. Pens win 4-3.

Columbus fans waited five years for that. Welcome to the playoffs, dicks.

The Penguins stunned the sold-out Nationwide Arena with a blistering three-goal third-period comeback when it looked like the Jackets were gonna head into Game 4 with a 2-1 lead in the series.

The good news for Columbus: They kept Crosby and Malkin out of the goal column again, kept the Pens’ PP off the board, and there is no question they’re in this series.

The bad news for Columbus:  Crosby and Malkin are going to start scoring goals, and the Penguins’ PP is going to connect somewhere along the line. All of that could come together in a perfect storm in Game 4, and it will be ugly.

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PENS D RISES UP

After a rough Game 2, the Pens’ D was under the microscope leading up to Game 3, where they then had the worst start you can possibly have to start a road playoff game. But they stuck with it and clamped down in front of MAF for the most part to keep the Pens in the game. Then they decided to start chipping in at the other end. Brooks Orpik kicked it off, while shots from Martin and Maatta were deflected past Bob. Scary that we didn’t mention Kris Letang in the offensive production.

TEAM USA CONNECTION

We can guarantee someone mentioned somewhere as they were trying to preview this series from every possible angle, but we remembered that Jack Johnson and Brandon Dubinsky were both considered major snubs for Team USA’s selection process in Sochi. Not trying to make a point or anything, but Jack Johnson is playing the best hockey of his life in this series.

Game 4 is coming down the pike Wednesday night and will be the biggest game since this one:

FIRST PERIOD

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It’s open season on what? Not being able to afford jeans to wear to a game?

Blue Jackets were having issues in the first minute trying to leave their zone. But then they left their zone. Skille found a puck along the boards and got it on MAF. Boone Jenner pounced on the rebound so fast. 1-0.

Not even two minutes later, Dubinsky took Niskanen out of the play behind the net. The Jackets got the puck back to the front, and Jack Johnson snuck in completely untouched. 2-0.

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Johnson’s third goal of the series. Best D-man on either team thus far.

Nationwide Arena was a madhouse, and Bylsma had to use his timeout. You almost saw a hint of anger in his face as he was talking to the players, but he may have just had a close call with a sneeze.

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This game had some strange officiating from the outset. An Orpik board on Calvert went uncalled, and the Pens went down the other way, Bennett passed up a great shot to make some drop pass, but the Pens were still going on the PP for a hook. Best chance on that PP was Crosby on a 3-on-1, but Bob began establishing his dominance. He later made a great save on Neal after the kill.

Musical chairs on the top line. Bennett and Stempniak both saw some time. Pens took home two more power plays at the end of the second. Kunitz still looks kind of lost. Too many passes. All killed.

Columbus outhit the Pens 30-15 in the first.

SECOND PERIOD

Boone Jenner went off for interference on MAF early in the second. And because it was early in the second, Crosby stayed out for the full 2 minutes of that PP. Not a bad idea. Killed, though.

It was only a matter of time before the Jackets got a power play. They got one when Nick Foligno did a 360 deke and then Niskanen flew in at Mach 2 to eliminate Umberger with a crosscheck.

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The Jackets’ power play was really awful. But as awful as that first PP was, their second, while Scuderi was in the box for a lazy interference penalty, was amazing. In fact, it actually may have been a turning point for the Penguins, because they got a huge effort from their penalty killers.

Bobrovsky had officially settled in. Huge saves all night. But at the other end, MAF had shook off the first 4 minutes of the game and was matching him save for save.

Nick Foligno was headed to the box later for giving MAF a snow shower, but that was just a horrible call. Instead of fully opening that can of worms, the refs looked for a makeup call, and Neal helped them out by murdering a Jacket into the boards when he didn’t have the puck.

The Pens’ best scoring chance of the game up to that point cam in the homestretch of the second when Crosby found himself all alone in front…or so he thought.

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What a series from Jack Johnson. New-found respect for him.

TURNING POINT

With about 90 seconds to play in the second, the Penguins picked it up. Even Joe Vitale was skating hard.

It all led to this goal as Brooks Orpik put the Pens on his back and scored some outrageous goal that may have earned him a ridiculous contract from the Canucks in July. 2-1.

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Bobrovsky will see that shot in his sleep for the rest of his life.

THIRD PERIOD

The third period was as strange as it gets. The Orpik goal loomed even larger because the Jackets would score less than two minutes into the third period. Dubinsky created it all, and Cam Atkinson got credit for the goal.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets

3-1. Not the best defense from Letang on that.

Then came the biggest part of the game. The Jackets were inches away from making it 4-1. It was complete bedlam, but Marc-Andre Fleury was keeping the Pens’ faint heartbeat going.

And then…

The American Hero, Paul Martin, got a shot on net. Sutter deflected it home. 3-2.

69 seconds later, Kunitz made his first play of the playoffs. It was a subtle move to create space for Stempniak streaking into the zone. Stempniak knew it was in as soon as he let it go. 3-3.

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63 seconds later, Maatta gets a shot on net. Watch Jokinen’s stick:

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4-3 just like that.

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Columbus didn’t know what to do. Talk about shell-shocked. Kris Letang jolted them out of their trance by taking a really bad penalty in the third period, because that is just what he does now.

The Penguins killed it, then went on a power play of their own thanks to James Wisniewski jobbing Malkin.

It all came down to the final minute and then the final seconds. With the crowd on its feet, Brandon Dubinsky almost brought the house down with this move:

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Jokinen makes another appearance. Big play.

GAME.

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  • In the post-game, Bylsma said the Pens played 45 minutes of great hockey.
  • Matt Cooke is a joke.
  • No idea what to make of this series.

 

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