Blue Jackets put down Penguins in double-OT for first playoff win ever
Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Jack Johnson (left) and centre Artem Anisimov celebrate a goal by left wing Matt Calvert against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, April, 19, 2014. (CHARLES LeCLAIRE/USA Today)
The Columbus Blue Jackets served notice in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal they are serious about this whole playoff thing.
In Game 2 on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Jackets came to collect.
Columbus overcame a shaky first period, rallied from two goals down and won at 1:10 of double overtime when Matt Calvert beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at the Consol Energy Center.
The 4-3 triumph was the first post-season win in Blue Jackets franchise history and, with it, the Penguins now know that taking this best-of-seven series is not a sure thing.
“I have the puck right now, but I might have to make a deal with the franchise,” Calvert said with a smile. “To get a split here and be able to go back home and be able to take control of the series, go up 2-1, is a huge opportunity. We’re excited about it.”
The Jackets tied the best-of-seven series 1-1 and will carry the momentum when the puck drops at the start of Game 3 on Monday night in Columbus.
Calvert scored on his own rebound as Lee Stempniak and Kris Letang stood nearby. It the second goal of the game for Calvert, a Brandon, Man., native who was drafted by Columbus in the fifth round in 2008.
“The first shot surprised me,” Calvert said. “The puck came on my stick and I got a quick shot on (Fleury). I thought that was going in (but Fleury made a pad save). Luckily, it came back to me and I put it upstairs.”
In the first overtime period, the Penguins couldn’t score on two power plays while the Blue Jackets failed to convert on one.
Forward R.J. Umberger had a chance to end it, but Fleury stopped his backhand.
At the other end, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped Stempniak and Evgeni Malkin from tight quarters.
The Penguins, who had a 3-1 lead after the first period but couldn’t hold the Jackets off, were 1-for-8 on power plays and the Jackets were 2-for-6.
Both teams lost players to injury, as Penguins forward Brian Gibbons and Jackets defenceman Fedor Tyutin left in the first period. Their respective coaches refused to give updates after the game.
Letang was benched by Penguins coach Dan Bylsma in Game 1 for taking a couple of bad penalties, and there was Letang with a late hit and subsequent interference penalty on Calvert in the third period, a play that might not have happened had the veteran defenceman given it a little more thought.
Sure enough, the Jackets tied the game 3-3 on the power play at 13:59, with Jack Johnson having the benefit of an open net when Fleury couldn’t get across after the puck emerged from a group of players.
It will be interesting to see if the nastiness rises a few notches as the series moves to Columbus, as there has not been much of it through the first two games.
Gibbons, with two goals, and Matt Niskanen scored for the Penguins. Gibbons got his work done quickly, as he played just two minutes and 26 seconds in the first period before leaving.
Sidney Crosby had two assists. Evgeni Malkin was pointless.
Ryan Johansen also scored for the Blue Jackets. Calvert’s first goal was shorthanded, the second the Penguins have allowed in as many games after giving up just six in the 82-game regular season.
“I don’t think it sits well with anyone,” Crosby said. “Special teams are huge in the playoffs and we were on the wrong side.
“We have to be better, and that is the bottom line, right on through. Whether special teams or 5-on-5, we have to be better.”
For Jackets coach Todd Richards, Calvert’s shorthanded goal was the turning point.
“The shorthanded goal was the difference-maker in the game,” Richards said. “It gave hope to our guys. You could feel it on the bench. From that moment, I thought we played a very strong game.
“But my message to the team was enjoy it, but we have to win four.”
LONG WAIT IS OVER
First playoff win in franchise history. Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger likes the ring of it.
“It’s a great moment for us, but for the fan base who have been there since Day 1, they have stuck with us. I know they are proud of us,” Umberger said after the Jackets beat the Penguins 4-3 in double OT on Saturday. “But this is the first step. We have a lot of hockey left and we want to put more than one win together.”
The victory came in the Jackets’ sixth playoff game. Their only other playoff appearance was in 2009, when they were swept in the opening round by Detroit.
They entered the NHL in October of 2000.