Matt Calvert scored his second goal of the game 1:10 into double overtime to give the Blue Jackets the franchise's first Stanley Cup Playoff victory, a 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Consol Energy Center.
"You always dream about being the hero in overtime," Calvert said. "We battled for it and it didn't come easy. We were down a couple goals at different times. The penalty kill was great when it had to be and it's just a great feeling right now."
Columbus, which rallied from a two-goal deficit, will host Game 3 at Nationwide Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, FS-O, CBC, RDS2).
"This is my third season and I know the struggles that we went through to get to this point, but I don't know the history of the team," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "For me, it's always about moving forward and what's going to happen next? What's next on our agenda? What's going to happen tomorrow?
"For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big."
After allowing three first-period goals, Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky shut down the Penguins for more than 60 minutes to earn his first playoff win. Bobrovsky finished with 39 saves.
With Kris Letang in the penalty box for interference, Johnson scored his second goal of the series to tie the game 3-3. Fleury was screened by Brandon Dubinsky, which limited his sight and the puck slipped to Johnson at the right of the net. Johnson wristed a shot into a wide-open net with 6:01 remaining in regulation.
Columbus' special teams were the catalyst to its comeback. The Blue Jackets, who blew a 3-1 lead en route to a 4-3 loss in Game 1, scored two power-play goals and one shorthanded Saturday.
Calvert scored Columbus' second shorthanded goal of the series 6:25 into the second period. He elected to keep the puck on a 3-on-1 break and snapped a shot past Fleury to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 3-2.
"We've been a resilient group," said Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger, who returned from an upper-body injury. "We've never quit and battled and battled and 3-1 is not a great scenario, but I think a lot of teams would have been done, but we kept fighting and found ways. The power play did a great job of getting us back into it and the shorthanded goal was huge."
The Blue Jackets earned two additional scoring chances, including on a 2-on-1, during the rest of the Penguins' power play. Pittsburgh allowed a shorthanded goal to Derek MacKenzie in the second period Wednesday.
"The shorthanded goals have hurt us big time and we've certainly scored with our power play in the first two games, but tonight clearly, special teams is the difference in this game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Us not being able to capitalize with our power play in the second period is a huge factor, and of course they get the second power-play goal of the game to tie the game up.
"So it ends up being three special-teams goals for them tonight and it is certainly the difference in this game."
The Penguins dominated the first period on their way to a 3-1 lead.
"I think it's a missed opportunity," Niskanen said. "We're at home, Game 2 and we're having a great first period. We have a two-goal lead and we're in complete control of the hockey game. Whether it's a mistake or them capitalizing on an opportunity, the momentum changes and it took us a while for us to get back to playing."
Gibbons scored his first of his two first-period goals to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead 3:30 into the game. Gibbons deflected a slap shot from Niskanen past Bobrovsky's stick and into the top of the net.
Gibbons scored a shorthanded goal less than minute later with Joe Vitale in the penalty box for interference. Gibbons, dubbed by Bylsma as the Penguins' fastest player, carried the puck through the neutral zone and flew past Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski before deking to the right and bringing the puck back to the left to wrap it around Bobrovsky's pads 4:24 into the first.
But Gibbons left the game after playing 2:26 in the first with an undisclosed injury. He was replaced by forward Tanner Glass on the Penguins' top line.
Bylsma did not provide an update to Gibbons' status after the game, while Richards did not update the status of defenseman Fedor Tyutin, who played 6:55 in the first period but not at all after that.
Johansen slapped a shot past Fleury 45 seconds after Gibbons' second goal during the same power play to cut Pittsburgh's lead in half, but Columbus didn't register another shot for nearly 12 minutes.
The Penguins, who finished the period with a 15-4 lead in shots, took advantage late in the period with a power-play goal. Niskanen ripped a slap shot into the upper-right corner of the net for his fourth point and second goal of the postseason with 2:08 left in the period.
Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby earned two assists in the first, moving him into third on the franchise's all-time postseason points list with 108.
"We have to be better," Crosby said. "That's really, I think, the bottom line. Right on through, whether it's special teams or 5-on-5, we've got to be better."
|Brian Gibbons (1) Tip-in - ASST: Matt Niskanen (2), Sidney Crosby (2)|
1 - 0 PIT
|SHG - Brian Gibbons (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Paul Martin (3), Brooks Orpik (1)|
2 - 0 PIT
|PPG - Ryan Johansen (1) Slapshot - ASST: David Savard (1), Ryan Murray (1)|
2 - 1 PIT
|PPG - Matt Niskanen (2) Slapshot - ASST: Paul Martin (4), Sidney Crosby (3)|
3 - 1 PIT
|SHG - Matt Calvert (1) Snap shot - ASST: Artem Anisimov (1), David Savard (2)|
3 - 2 PIT
|PPG - Jack Johnson (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Ryan Johansen (1), Boone Jenner (2)|
3 - 3 Tie
|1st OT Period|
|2nd OT Period|
|Matt Calvert (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Cam Atkinson (1), Brandon Dubinsky (2)|
4 - 3 CBJ
|Joe Vitale Interference on goalkeeper against Sergei Bobrovsky|
|Fedor Tyutin Holding against Sidney Crosby|
|Brandon Dubinsky Slashing against Craig Adams|
|Chris Kunitz Roughing against Matt Calvert|
|R.J. Umberger Cross checking against Rob Scuderi|
|Blake Comeau Roughing against Paul Martin|
|Blake Comeau Tripping against Paul Martin|
|Brandon Dubinsky Boarding against Paul Martin|
|Craig Adams Hi-sticking against Sergei Bobrovsky|
|Rob Scuderi Tripping against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Kris Letang Interference against Matt Calvert|
|1st OT Period|
|Paul Martin Hi-sticking against Ryan Johansen|
|Jack Johnson Hooking against Jussi Jokinen|
|Blake Comeau Interference against Brooks Orpik|
|2nd OT Period|