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Posted On Friday, 05.02.2014 / 1:15 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Rangers series blog

Rangers shrug off concerns about busy schedule

PITTSBURGH -- Despite a schedule that has the New York Rangers playing six games in nine days, they do not think they are at a disadvantage entering Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Rangers will play their third game in four days Friday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Pittsburgh has had three days to rest and practice since their last game, but New York doesn't think that will affect the series' outcome.

"You can't look at the big picture," Rangers forward Martin St. Louis said. "You just have to focus on the game, and then once that game's over, regroup and focus on Game 2. You can't focus on six in nine. They're in the same boat that we are, so we aren't going to overthink it. Just get ready for the next game."

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Posted On Monday, 04.28.2014 / 1:05 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins may pair Crosby, Malkin again in Game 6

COLUMBUS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins could play forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together for the second consecutive game Monday.

The Penguins separated the two centers at the morning skate after using Crosby and Malkin on the same line throughout Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Malkin returned to the second line between forwards Jussi Jokinen and James Neal, while forward Lee Stempniak rejoined Crosby and forward Chris Kunitz.

But Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he expects to put Crosby and Malkin together through at least a portion of Game 6 Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, ROOT, FS-O) at Nationwide Arena. Crosby, who has five assists but no goals in the series, said he thinks he is playing well even if it isn't apparent on the score sheet.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.27.2014 / 1:00 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins looking to finish Blue Jackets in Game 6

PITTSBURGH -- If the Pittsburgh Penguins are to eliminate the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday, they will need to break a pattern in the process.

Throughout the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series, led 3-2 by Pittsburgh, each team has responded to adversity. A trend has formed that involves one team taking an early lead before losing one game, then falling behind early before coming from behind to win the next.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the Penguins joked following their 3-1 win in Game 5 on Saturday that they would consider handing Columbus a 1-0 lead to start Game 6 at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS2, ROOT, FS-O).

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Posted On Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 1:28 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins defenseman Orpik could miss Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik did not participate in the morning skate Saturday and could be sidelined for Game 5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center (7p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not provide an update on Orpik's condition.

Orpik, one of Pittsburgh's more physical defenseman, left Penguins practice Friday for undisclosed reasons.

"He's a big loss. Physically, he's our No. 1 leader as far as hits, the way he can change momentum with one of them," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "He kills a lot of penalties. He plays against top lines. So if he's not able to go it's going to be a big loss for us.

"Unfortunately, it's something we've had to deal with all season. Hopefully whatever the coaches decide to do with the pairings, [we] can step up and play the right way."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 1:10 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin, Murray expected back for Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets could each have their lineups bolstered by returning players when they meet in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin confirmed he will play Saturday after missing two games with a lower-body injury, and defenseman Ryan Murray (lower body) said he is a game-time decision. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he expects each to return to the lineup.

Penguins forward Marcel Goc, who has been sidelined for 13 games with a foot injury, will be a game-time decision.

Tyutin was paired with defenseman Nikita Nikitin and Murray skated with defenseman James Wisniewski during Columbus' skate Saturday morning. With the best-of-7 series tied 2-2, Murray expects each team to play with desperation.

"They've been a pretty intense four games," Murray said. "It's been a strange series. Each team has come back every game and has come back from deficits. We stole one in one another's barns and just know that no team is going to quit out there no matter what the score is.

"If you get a lead, it's not safe."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 3:22 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins goalie Fleury moves on from Game 4

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he made the wrong play, but he will not allow that to affect him moving forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Leading 3-2 with less than 30 seconds remaining in Game 4 on Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Fleury left the net with a puck careening around the end boards. The puck hopped over Fleury's stick, which led to him scrambling to stop a shot from Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky that tied the game 3-3. Nick Foligno scored a long-distance goal 2:45 into overtime to give Columbus the win and tie the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series 2-2.

Dubinsky's late goal left Fleury face down in his crease.

Looking back on the play, Fleury said he should have remained in net, an opinion shared by Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. But at the time he thought he could make a play that would help clear the puck from Pittsburgh's zone and seal a victory.

"I think it's easy after, when you watch the video in slow motion. It's the wrong play when the puck goes in the net," Fleury said. "But as it happened, the puck was coming slow. I read I could stop it and it might be good to pick it up and get the puck out of the zone pretty quick. So that's why I went. The puck took a bad bounce and that's it."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 3:15 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Bylsma stresses Penguins must raise compete level

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins could have swept the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round. The Blue Jackets could have swept the Penguins.

Instead, their best-of-7 series is tied 2-2, which has left Penguins coach Dan Bylsma critical of Pittsburgh's effort after surrendering a three-goal lead in its 4-3 overtime loss in Game 4 on Wednesday.

"I think the work and compete and battle level has probably been the most troubling thing from our team," Bylsma said at his Thursday press conference. "In Game 3, after getting down two goals for 50, 55 minutes of that game, it wasn't perfect, but we were the desperate team. We took the game to them. Last night, we get up three goals in the game and they were the team that worked and competed and outbattled us for most of the duration of the game."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 2:28 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Bylsma expects Penguins' Fleury to atone for mistake

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a mistake.

With less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation and the Penguins up 3-2 Wednesday, Fleury left his crease in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He attempted to retrieve a puck riding the boards behind the net, but it hopped over his stick and was passed to Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky.

Dubinsky hit the open net. Then 2:49 into overtime, forward Nick Foligno wristed a shot directly at Fleury. That one got through as well.

"He was our best player in the game last night and unfortunately a mistake with the bouncing puck there behind the net cost us in the last 30 seconds of the game," Bylsma said Thursday. "Typically, the rule of thumb is pucks on the glass, you stay in net. Pucks on the dasher, you have a truer read on the play. Given the time of the game, the puck gets rimmed in, the play is to stay in the net and not go out and attempt a play on the puck."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 1:50 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins look to improve on special teams in Game 3

PITTSBURGH -- What was once the Pittsburgh Penguins' primary strength has turned into a weakness.

After coming back from a two-goal deficit to win Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Penguins surrendered a two-goal lead in their 4-3 double-overtime loss in Game 2 on Saturday. Special teams were a catalyst for Columbus in building a lead early Game 1 and evaporating Pittsburgh's lead in Game 2.

Five of the Blue Jackets' seven goals in the series have been scored via their special teams, including one shorthanded goal in each game. Columbus has cracked Pittsburgh's once-stellar power-play and penalty-killing units, which simultaneously topped the NHL rankings at one point during the regular season.

The Blue Jackets have been aggressive when down a man, leading to several shorthanded scoring opportunities. After Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert's shorthanded goal in the second period of Game 2, the Penguins allowed two more shorthanded chances during the same power play, including one off a 2-on-1.

"We need to take advantage of their aggressiveness," Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said. "We have to come in and possess the puck. If they're over-pursuing, somebody can make one play and put pucks to the net and score goals. When they do that, they second-guess themselves and get in between, and it really opens up the ice.

"So, puck possession, but also making that first play where they're being overaggressive and get caught in between, and we're going to have a lot of time to be able to shoot it."


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Posted On Saturday, 04.19.2014 / 1:12 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins preach awareness of Umberger around net

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins expect a physical game with forward RJ Umberger returning to the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup.

After missing five games due to an upper-body injury, Umberger will play against his hometown team in Game 2 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against Pittsburgh on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT). Umberger said he is excited to return in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center.

The feeling wasn't mutual in the Penguins locker room. They expect Umberger to attempt to own the crease in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and have prepared for his addition to bolster the Blue Jackets' performance.

"He's a big guy who brings physical play to their lineup," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "He's good in front of the net. He can score goals. He's a veteran guy who has a lot of experience, so I would expect [Columbus] to get a boost from that."

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Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins