-On this space of the Internet, we've kind of adopted a wait and see attitude with Rob Scuderi with regards to his play since December. The waiting is over and the seeing is starting to run out with regards to his play. A pretty solid first month of the season playing with Matt Niskanen came to a halt when he broke his ankle. He came back to the lineup in December and has mostly struggled since then. He has said he has fully recovered from the ankle injury and he's fine physically. Regardless, the results just haven't been there. During Saturday's game, he looked feeble in trying to defend Columbus' hustling forwards.
-Were it up to us, tonight's game would be an "audition" for Rob Scuderi to keep his spot in the lineup. If he succeeds, he can stay. If not, it would be time to look at Robert Bortuzzo or even Deryk Engelland. Scratching Rob Scuderi in the playoffs wouldn't be the end of the world. Marc-Andre Fleury has rebounded just fine after being benched last postseason.
-There have been a lot of suggestions that the Penguins use an amnesty buyout on Rob Scuderi this offseason. That can't happen. As a provision of the current collective bargaining agreement, only contracts signed before the 2012 lockout are eligible for such a buyout. A regular buyout which would still incur some of Scuderi's cap hit over the next four years of his contract could be possible but that's not likely.
-It'll be interesting to see what changes the Penguins make on their power play. They adopted a three forward/two defenseman look middle of the way through Game 2 but it didn't offer much. As Matt Niskanen noted today, "This time of year, those fancy plays just aren’t there." Meat and potato goals are needed but the Penguins have too many sushi chefs trying to make spring rolls.
-Does that analogy even make sense?
-Bottom line, the Penguins need to shoot more but be responsible with their shot selection. As Niskanen said, "shoot and recover pucks."
-It'll be interesting to see how the Blue Jackets adjust to the loss of Fedor Tyutin. They seemed to do just fine without him for most of Game 2 with only five defensemen. Tonight, they have the advantage of inserting Dalton Prout into the lineup. He's a big (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) player with a solid shot. He'll probably man a role on the third defensive pairing while David Savard will move along side Jack Johnson on the top pairing. Savard has some nice offensive acumen but we're not sure how strong he is in his own zone.
-Nick Foligno returns to the lineup tonight. He is expected to play on a solid third line with Artem Anisimov and R.J. Umberger. Foligno has been a pest to the penguins over the years going back to his time with the Senators. We would expect that to be the same.
-As far as the forwards are concerned, the makeups of these rosters are polar opposites. The Penguins have a lot of nice top six players and relatively few bottom-six types. The Blue Jackets have only a few true top-sixers but an abundance of bottom-sixers. Its almost as if you merged these teams, they would be an instant Stanley Cup winner.
-Jack Skille is one of those forwards who is probably best suited for bottom-six duties but he's on the top line. He played with Engelland in Norway during the lockout and mentioned Engelland was the team's power-play quarterback.
-And you thought Dan Bylsma overused Engelland.
-There's a buzz (pardon the pun) about this team in Columbus. This all seems pretty new to these fans to have a team with some legitimate optimism. The 2009 team which made the postseason ran into a buzzsaw in the first round against a pretty strong Red Wings team and was swept. After winning Game 2, fans seem to have bought in.
-Speaking of bought in, it seems like Columbus fans have purchased most of the tickets to this game. Unlike years past, there isn't nearly as large of a 412 presence around the town. There have been times where over half of this building has been rooting for the squad with a 412 area code. The Blue Jackets limited ticket sales to Ohio residences for Games 3 and 4 and if the crowd outside Nationwide Arena is any indication, that maneuver was pretty successful. Here's the pavilion outside the barn:
-Not much black and gold as far as we can see.
-There are Blue Jackets banners around downtown Columbus:
-And rare delicacies for the soup of the day:
-The always rare Michael Peca/Duvie Westcott duo:
-There was one Penguins fan here showing some support for the owner:
-Signs being distributed tonight:
-Rick Nash's popularity has not held up well here:
-Nikolai Zherdev's has however:
-There are some Bruins fans here. Tuukka Rask:
-Fans entering the barn:
-There are a few Penguins fans. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin:
-A few former Penguins/Blue Jackets. Darryl Sydor:
-Lyle "Cornelius" Odelein:
-Jersey of the Night: Ron Tugnutt:
-The Penguins' starters are Beau Bennett, Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Deryk Engelland, Brian Gibbons, Marcel Goc, Taylor Pyatt and Tomas Vokoun.
-The Blue Jackets' starters are Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, Brandon Dubinsky, Jack Johnson, David Savard and Sergei Bobrovsky.
-Their scratches are Jared Boll, Matt Frattin, Nathan Horton, Nick Schultz, Jeremy Smith, Corey Tropp and Fedor Tyutin.
-The National Anthem:
20:00: At the start of the game, there is a lot of natural fan noise in the building. There's 14 years of frustration being released.
19:34: Dubinsky thumps Scuderi with a solid hit near the Penguins' bench.
18:58: R.J. Umberger drops Martin with a solid forecheck behind the Penguins' net.
18:22: The Blue Jackets strike first. Ryan Murray hits a cross-ice stretch pass to Johansen on the right wing. From above the right circle of the Penguins' zone, he leaves a drop pass for Skille. Skille races up the wing and rips a wrister on net. Fleury kicks it out. Jenner is all over the rebound and clunks it behind Fleury. That's not a good goal to give up. What a series of passes. Especially by Murray. This place is nuts. The cannon goes off. Skille and Johansen get assists. Murray deserves one. Blue Jackets 1-0.
16:42: The Blue Jackets double up. Jack Johnson's torrid series continues. After Dubinsky gains the offensive zone and chips the puck behind the cage, Savard plays it back to him from the right wing corner. From the left side of the cage, Dubinsky plays it into the crease where Fleury hugs the near post and kicks out another rebound. Johnson is in deep and is all over rebound which he punches by the blocker of Fleury. What a horrendous start fo ththe Penguins. Dan Bylsma calls a timeout to get his team organized. It's a basketball timeout more than anything intended to break up some of Columbus' momentum. Dubinsky and Savard get assists. Blue Jackets 2-0.
15:49: Brooks Orpik drops Matt Calvert behind the penguins net w his big hit.
15:39: A break for the Penguins. Savard is called for hooking Martin. With Kunitz, Crosby and Martin on at the end of a shift, Letang, Niskanen, Jokinen, Neal and Malkin take the ice.
15:31: After skating offsides, the Penguins bring in Martin, Niskanen and Kunitz for Letang Jokinen and Neal.
14:56: Crosby coasts up the r ight wing and rips a wrister from the right circle. Bobrovsky fights it off.
14:48: Martin chops a slapper from the right point. Bobrovsky eats it up.
13:39: The Savard minor is killed. The Penguins looked sloppy on that power play. Icky.
12:02: Neal picks up a loose puck at the Columbus blue line and attacks the net on his backhand. Bobrovsky's right leg denies him.
11:08: Jenner thumps Glass pretty goo near the Columbus blue line on the left wing.
10:00: A wrister by Orpik from the left half wall is blocked.
9:36: Stempniak has a chance on a loose puck to the right of the cage but his stick breaks and he fails to get a clean shot off.
7:50: Jokinen has a nice chance at a one-timer from the right point but fans on the shot. That's how it's going for the Penguins' right now.
6:45: Anisimov pressures Niskanen in the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone and forces a turnover. he chases down the puck behind the cage and pins it against the end boards for a good 10-15 seconds holding off Maatta and Niskanen. The Blue Jackets have so much more jump than the Penguins right now.
5:28: Dubinsky pounds a slapper from the right circle. Fleury fights it off.
4:50: Sing-song "Fleerrrr.....Eeeee....." chants begin.
4:20: Another penalty for the Blue jackets. Anisimov flips a puck out of play form his own zone. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Martin and Niskanen take the ice. A goal here would be huge for the Penguins.
3:48: A one-timer by Martin from the right point is kicked out by Bobrovsky.
2:35: Jokinen hustles up the right wing and cranks a slapper. Bobrovsky challenges and eats it up.
2:17: As the Anisimov minor expires, Maatta chucks a wrister from the right point. Bobrovsky absorbs it.
1:52: Yet another penalty for the Blue Jackets. Johansen is called for holding Jokinen in the neutral zone. scrum breaks out near the Columbus bench. Officials hold everyone at bay. Niskanen, Martin, Neal, Crosby and Malkin take the ice.
0:54: Niskanen rips a wrister from the left circle. Bobrovsky says nyet.
0:43: Niskanen chops a slapper form the left point. Bobrovsky fight sit off despite traffic.
0:27: A one-timer by Niskanen from the left point is kicked out of play by Bobrovsky.
0:00: End of period. As the horn sounds, Neal goes after Johnson in the Columbus' right wing corner. No penalties. Blue Jackets 2, Penguins 0.
-That was a bug and windshield type of period. Guess which one the were.
-The energy in this building is so one-sided. The Blue Jackets are winning just about every physical confrontation and puck battle.
-It's the Maatta-Niskanen pairing's turn to be victimized. They were abused pretty well on each of Columbus' goals.
-We can forgive the second goal but Fleury needed to stop that first goal. That was a sloppy rebound.
-The power play looks complete impotent. When the Penguins are getting shots through, Bobrovsky is seeing them from a mile away.
-Give Bobovsky's credit, he is tuned in.
-The Penguins have a 16-7 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 30-13 lead in attempted shots.
-Ryan Murray leads the game with 7:41 of ice time.
-Niskanen leads the Penguins with 8:35.
-The Blue Jackets lead in faceoffs, 14-8 (64 percent).
-Dubinsky is 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Crosby is 4 for 10 (40 percent).
-Johnson leads the game with seven blocked shots.
-Martin leads the Penguins with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will have a brief power play to start the period on fresh ice. Scuderi, Letang, Stempinak, Sutter and Kunitz take the ice.
18:03: Jenner weaves his way into the offensive zone and releases a shot from the right wing. Fleury fights it off. Jenner follows up on the rebound and sort of does a spinning heel kick into Fleury while trying to avoid him. That's two minutes for goaltending interference. Niskanen, Martin, Crosby, Malkin and Kunitz take the ice.
17:18: Malkin attacks the net from the left wing and tries to jam in a puck. Bobrovsky kicks it out. Calvert clears the rebound.
16:28: Crosby controls the puck in the right corner. He forces a poor pass which is intercepted and cleared.
16:03: The Jenner minor is killed. The Penguins looked impotent once again.
15:01: The Blue Jackets finally get a power play. Niskanen's rough night continues as he hits Umberger from behind in the Penguins' right wing corner. Umberger sells the hit and draws the penalty. That's an even-up call more than anything. Stemniak, Matin, Orpik and Glass take the ice.
13:01: Two minutes later, the Blue Jackets do even less with the power play than the Penguins.
12:18: A wrister by Crosby off the left wing is fought off by Bobovsky.
11:58: Kunitz gets a chance in tight and rips a wrister. Bobrovsky battles it away.
11:47: Off some give-and-go passing with malkin, neal rips a nice wrister from the right circle. Bobrovsky snags it with a nicer glove save.
11:40: Martin chops a loose puck from the right circle over the cage.
11:25: A backhander by Skille from the left circle is over the cage.
11:09: Another Blue jackets power play. Scuderi holds up Umberger from a puck in the Penguins' right wing corner off a faceoff. That's an easy interference all. Adams, Sutter, Martin and Orpik take the ice.
10:47: Johnson fires a one-timer from the right point which hits something.
10:20: A wrister by Dubinsky off the right half wall is blocked.
10:09: Anisimov tries to play a puck from the right of the cage into the crease. Fleury is able to smother it.
9:48: Murray cranks a slapper form the hgi lsot. Someone blocks it.
9:35: HUGE save. Mark Letestu chops a one-timer from in tight to the left of the cage. Fleury fights it off. Wow.
9:25: Shooting gallery. Murray has a slapper from the right circle blocked by Letang.
9:05: The Penguins clear the puck and kill off the power play. That was huge. The Blue Jackets were dominant with that two minutes.
7:02: A wrister by Neal off the left half wall is kicked out by Bobrovsky.
6:43: A wrister by Cam Aktinson from the right circle is blocked by Martin.
6:30: Calvert rips a wrister from the left circle. Fleury fights off. Dubinsky is all over the rebound and chops it on net. Fleury smother it. The Penguins were standing around on that chance.
5:11: Atkinson thumps Bennett into the boards near the Columbus penalty box.
4:18: Johnson slams Stempniak to the ice with a big hit at the Penguins' blue line.
4:43: Fleury smothers a dump in by the Blue Jackets. Foligno skates in and sort of hovers over him. Officials give Folgino an unsportsmanlike conduct minor. That was ticky tack call. Niskanen, Malkin, Crosby, Martina nd Kunitz take th eice.
4:17: Anothe penalty. Neal sort of picked Wisniewski on the Columbus left wing wall to set Crosby free. That's two minutes of interference. We'll have four on four play.
2:17: Play returns to five-on-five.
1:03: A wrister by Maatta is rejected by Bobrovsky.
0:45: A wrister by Martin is blocked by Umberger.
0:00.7: Finally the Penguins break through. Bennett controls a puck deep in the right corner and deals a pass to Orpik above the left circle. He curls and drags around a sliding Atkinson and rips a wrister by Bobrovsky's glove hand. What a pretty goal by an unlikely source. It snaps a streak of 52 consecutive saves for Bobrovsky Bennett and Martin get assists. Blue Jackets 2-1.
0:00: End of period. Blue Jackets 2, Penguins 1.
-Talk about salvaging something out of nothing. Bobby Orrpik's pretty goal could give the Penguins some serious life heading into the third period. At the very least, they have to have a little more confidence with regards to Bobrovsky right now.
-Play was a little less one-sided in that period. The Blue Jackets didn't have nearly as much jump or energy but they still controlled things for the most part.
-You have to figure the Penguins' aren't going to get any more power plays unless it's something automatic like a delay of game minor. The Blue jackets might still get a few power plays however.
-Fleury stood out in that period. He is the reason the Penguins even have a chance in this contest.
-The Penguins have a 26-15 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 50-28 lead in attempted shots.
-Niskanen and Neal each lead the game with four shots.
-Dubinsky leads the Blue Jackets with three shots.
-James Wisniewski leads the game with 16:51 of ice time.
-Malkin leads the Penguins with 16:15.
-The Blue Jackets have a 24-15 lead in faceoffs (62 percent).
-Mark Letestu is 8 for 8 (100 percent).
-Malkin is 4 for 7 (57 percent).
-Umberger leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Martin leads the Penguins with three blocked shots.
18:56: Any momentum the Penguins had is immediately snuffed out. Off an offensive zone turnover, Dubinsky pushes a puck up the left wing into the Penguins zone. Challenging Letang one-on-one, he veers across the slot to the left circle and gets a step. He flings a backhander to the crease which hits off the body of Calvert above the blue paint and deflects by Fleury on the stick side. What an effort by Dubinsky. Letang needed to defend him better. Dubinsky and Calvert get assists. Blue Jackets 3-1.
18:07: The Blue Jackets seep attacking. Foligno spin off a check in the left circle of the Penguins' zone and lifts a wrister which deflects out of play. The Penguins have switched two of their defensive pairings. Scuderi is with Niskanen while Letang is with Maatta.
18:25: Orpik pounds a slapper from the right point. Bobrovsky kicks it out.
16:09: A backhander by Crosby from the right circle is blocked by Johnson.
15:55: Sing-song Fleerrr...eeeee...." chants begin again.
15:29: Foligno pushes a puck up the right wing and deals a backhanded pass to the crease. Umberger taps it on net and Fleury denies. Umberger and Letang crash into the end boards and are shaken up a bit. They each seem fine.
14:07: The Penguins aren't going away. After Bennett misses the net on a backhander from the left of the cage, he collects his own rebound and deals to Martin at the right point. Martin chosp a half slapper wide to the near side, perhaps intentionally. Sutter is there and re-directs the puck behind Bobrovsky. It's another big goal for Sutter. Martin and Bennett get assists. Blue Jackets 3-2.
13:50: A wrister by Martin from the right circle is blocked.
12:57: Tie game. Wow. Stempniak feeds a puck from his own blue line to Kunitz in the neutral zone on the right wing. Kunitz pushes it up ice and gains the offensive zone. He deals it back to Stempniak who passes him up on the wing and rips a wrister from the right circle by the glove hand of Bobrovsky on the near side. How is this game tied? Kunitz and Letang get credit for the assists. That might be changed. Blue Jackets 3, Penguins 3.
8:06: Dear lord. The Penguins have a lead. How? Malkin roars behind the back of the net and deals a pass from the left corner to Maatta at the left point. Maatta winds up and chops a slapper from the point into a mass of bodies. It appears to strike Wisniewski and deflects behind Bobrovsky. Maatta gets credit for the goal. How is this happening? Malkin and Neal get assists. Penguins 4-3.
11:38: Kunitz crnks a slapper form the center point. Bobrovsky kicks it out.
10:32: A wrister by Glass from the left wing is eaten up by Bobrovsky.
9:45: A wrister by Malkin from the left circle is wide of the cage.
7:52: Atkinson snaps off a a wrister from the right wing. Fleury eats it up.
7:34: Foligno rips a spinning wrister from the right half wall which is blocked in front.
7:07: Huge chance here for the Penguins. Jenner controls the puck on the right wing and takes a tumble in front of Letang. Letang had his stick on Jenner's hip and Jenner didn't provide much resistance. Officials buy the penalty and sent Letang to the penalty box. Adams, Martin, Orpik and Sutter take the ice. This is a huge two minutes.
5:19: Letestu chops a loose from above the left cirlce on net. Fleury's left leg kicks it out.
5:07: Letang's minor is killed.
4:55: Murray chucks a wrister from above the left circle. It gets blocked.
4:41: Wisniewski flings a wriste ron net from center point. Fleury eats it up.
4:32: Orpik staggers Foligno with ah it in the Pengins' right wing corner.
4:19: Murray chops a slapper from the right point juuuust wide to the far side.
3:58: Big break for the Penguins. Martin makes a nice play to get a loose puck away from the net and deals it to Jokinen at the penguins' right point. Jokinen one touches it Malkin who hurries it up the right wing to the attacking zone. As he approaches the net, Wisniewski holds him up. That's two minutes for holding. Letang, Niskanen, Malkin, Crosby and Kunitz take the ice.
1:58: Two minutes later, the Penguins do little with that chance but kill two minutes off the clock.
1:50: Wisnieski gets out of the box and challenges Orpik one-on-one on the right wing wall. He flings a wrister juuust wide to the far side
1:28: The Penguins get a fortunate offsides call which pushes a faceoff into the Columbus zone.
0:58: As Bobrovsky is pulled, Calvert tries to curl and drag the puck off the left wing around Martin. Martin holds his ground and knocks the puck loose.
0:28: Johanson motors his way up the right wing and rips a wrister which Fleury punches away. Johansen chases down the rebound and chucks at the cage wide.
0:01: Dubinsky blows by a defender on the right wing, drags the puck on net and is denied by Fleury. HUGE save.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 3.
-First things first, a scoring change awarded the game-winning goal to Jussi Jokinen. Olli Maatta and Evgnei Malkin got assists.
-This one is tough to comprehend. The Penguins failed to get goals from their two Hart Trophy-winning centers, went 0-for-6 on the power play and looked outright defeated early in the third period. Yet despite all of that, they stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to take this game and take a lead in the series.
-It's hard to note a flashpoint which turned this game around. Seemingly, any momentum the Penguins had off of Brooks Orpik's goal late in the second was quickly stamped out by a fluky goal from Cam Atkinson. The Penguins just scored three goals, two of which came from third liner, in a span of less than three minutes.
-Marc-Andre Fleury shook off an iffy first goal allowed and won this game. He won it. The Blue Jackets bombarded him with shots in the second period with a few power plays and he kicked everything out. After the Penguins took a lead in the third period, Columbus kept on pressing and put plenty of shots at the cage. Fleury makes some tough save and sealed this victory.
-The bewildering thing is the Penguins did this while getting relatively little from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin made a solid play to set up Maatta's point shot leading to Jokinen's winning goal but beyond that, the Penguins' two stars were hemmed in pretty well.
-Crosby's decisions with the puck were poor much of the night. He forced passes when Columbus sticks or skates were in the way. He has not been sharp this series.
-The only positive thing we can say about the Penguin's power play is that it didn't give up a short-handed goal. They snapped that streak at two games. Beyond that, this special teams unit was putrid. It looked disorganized and flustered most of the game.
-The mood in the Blue Jackets room was agitated yet confident. They knew they gave this game away. Said Jack Johnson:
"I’d play right now. We’re pretty angry the way this one turned out. I don’t think Game 4 can come fast enough."
-After Game 1, the prevalent sentiment in the Blue Jackets room was "We can Play" with this team. They went out and proved that in Game 2 with a win. After Game 3, there was little to suggest that opinion was any different. Said Johnson:
"Oh yeah. Why wouldn’t we think we could play with them? They put their skates on one foot at a time just like we do. They’re nothing special. We’re a pretty damn good hockey team too. We’re not shying away from anything. We’re in the series to win the Stanley Cup and they’re in our way from doing it."
-Brooks Orpik had one of his better games in a long time. He had a fantastic goal which came a key moment. Additionally, he was one of the blue liners who didn't look overwhelmed by the Blue Jackets' forecheck or aggression in the Penguins' zone. He and Paul Martin were calming presences for the Penguins in a storm.
-Lee Stempniak expressed regret over his inability to bury a rebound in overtime of Game 2. He got a little redemption tonight with his game-tying goal which was a nice snipe by a Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender.
-The one Penguins center who has shown up is Brandon Sutter. His goal tonight wasn't nearly as big as his game-winner against in Game 1, but it was very significant. It got the ball rolling for the Penguins.
-The Penguins' penalty kill was the one special teams unit which didn't have issues. The Blue Jackets' power play may have had a worse game than the Penguins' power play.
-James Neal appears to be a little snake bit right now. Every one of his shots seem to be finding some part of Sergei Bobrovsky's anatomy.
-Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang were better tonight but they still need to improve. Scuderi didn't look nearly as weak when it came to one-on-one battles and held up well. Letang made a poor play against Brandon Dubinsky which led to Columbus' third goal.
-The defensive pairing of Matt Niskanen and Olli Maatta had a rough night, at least early on. They were overwhelmed by the Blue Jackets' attack in the first period.
-Quietly, Beau Bennett had a big offensive game. He made the pass to set up Orpik's goal and got the puck deep to set up Paul Martin's shot leading to Sutter's goal. Don't overlook his contributions.
-That said Bennett didn't make a great backecheck
-Dubinsky was a terror in the Penguins' zone most of the night. The puck was glued to his stick anytime he carried it and he managed to get a hit on someone in a white jersey anytime he crossed the blue line.
-Nick Foligno seemed just fine. If he had any lingering effects from his ailment, they weren't visible. He was an agitating presence as he usually is and never avoided the high traffic areas.
-Bobrovsky needed to be better. He was lights out until the third period. Bobrovsky has had a very up and down series. Before Orpik scored tonight, he had stopped 52 consecutive saves. After that, everything just fell apart on him.
-Boone Jenner continues to be a force in this series. Beyond his goal, he was a disruptive entity on the forecheck most of the game.
-Officials called a tight game, especially early one. Three games into this series and the officiating has been surprising with how strict the rule book has been adhered to.
-The atmosphere in this building was fantastic. It reminded us of the fans on Long Island in the Penguins-Islanders series last season. We mean this in every respectful way possible but these Blue Jackets fans never shut up until the final whistle. The "C-B-J!" chant was non-stop.
-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 41-20.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 73-42.
-Neal led the game with seven shots.
-Dubinsky and Jenner each led the game with three shots.
-Martin led the game with 28:34 of ice time.
-James Wisniewski led the Blue Jackets with 25:02.
-The Blue Jackets had a 33-25 lead in faceoffs (57 percent).
-Mark Letestu was 9 for 11 (82 percent).
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Malkin was 6 for 4 (60 percent).
-Johnson led the game with five blocked shots.
-Martin led the Penguins with four blocked shots.
-Malkin's assist was his 100th career postseason point.