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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 4:28 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Day after rally, Richards sees Blue Jackets refocused

COLUMBUS -- Todd Richards knows his players well enough that the Columbus Blue Jackets coach is confident they're ready to move on from the Game 4 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday in their Eastern Conference First Round series.

Brandon Dubinsky tied the score 3-3 with 24 seconds left in regulation and Nick Foligno thrilled the overflow crowd of 18,970 at Nationwide Arena with the winner at 2:49 of overtime to even the Stanley Cup Playoffs best-of-7 series at 2-2.

"I think our group is really focused on the next game," Richards said Thursday. "Early on in the year, I'm talking regular season, that was something we needed to learn and understand how to deal with success.

"There's an obvious high coming out of the last game, a good feeling coming out of last night's game, and I think our players will enjoy it today. They should, but we come in tomorrow and put it behind us and get ready for the next game."

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."

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."

Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 7:08 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets defenseman Murray out for Game 4

COLUMBUS -- Defenseman Ryan Murray was scratched from the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, possibly because of an injury sustained during the morning skate when a shot hit his right foot.

Coach Todd Richards said after practice that Murray would play, but the rookie was not out for the warm-ups at Nationwide Arena, and defenseman Nick Schultz was paired with Dalton Prout. Nikita Nikitin will likely take Murray's spot as James Wisniewski's defense partner.


Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:28 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets plan no changes to Game 4 lineup

COLUMBUS -- Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray will be in the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup Wednesday for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series even though he left the morning skate early, coach Todd Richards said.

Murray underwent arthroscopic knee surgery March 7 and missed 15 games before returning April 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks. He played five more games, then sat the regular season finale April 12 against the Florida Panthers as a precaution.

He has played the first three games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins and has one assist while averaging 25:18 minutes of ice time.

Game 4 is 7 p.m. ET at Nationwide Arena (NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Holding leads no easy task for Penguins, Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets won't shy away from trying to score first or take a two-goal lead in Game 4, even though those situations seem cursed. Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 edge in the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 series that seems uncommon by Stanley Cup Playoff standards.

Columbus has twice scored the first goal and increased its lead to 3-1 before losing Game 1 and Game 3 by 4-3 scores. The Penguins scored first and led 3-1 in Game 2 but lost 4-3 in double overtime for the Blue Jackets' first playoff win in franchise history.

So what can be expected Wednesday in Game 4 at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT)?

"A 3-1 lead is good. I'll take a 3-1 lead any day in the playoffs," Columbus left wing Matt Calvert said. "It's kind of an interesting series. The team with the 3-1 lead seems to lose it. We've got to treat it like any regular-season game. Whether we're up or trailing, we have to keep fighting."

Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 5:29 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins getting scoring from lesser lights

COLUMBUS -- No Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin nor James Neal in the goal column?

No problem so far for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hope to continue spreading the scoring if necessary to put a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference First Round series in Game 4 at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 and have 11 goals from seven players. Defenseman Matt Niskanen and forwards Brian Gibbons, Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Sutter each has two goals.

Crosby has extended his goal-scoring drought during the past two postseasons to eight games. Malkin's drought is at seven.

"We've gotten big goals from a lot of different people so far," forward Lee Stempniak said. "It's just a testament of how deep our team is."

Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 4:50 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Bouncing back a familiar refrain for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The day after what could have been a devastating defeat instead saw the Columbus Blue Jackets looking forward to Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Columbus held a 3-1 lead in the third period of Game 3 before the Penguins scored three goals 2:13 apart Monday to grab a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series.

"Those are games you can't let slip away," Columbus forward RJ Umberger said. "We've got to regroup and come back for Game 4 with the same start and find the way to win.

"We're a confident group in here. We feel we've been close with them all year and feel this is a series that's going to go the distance. It's going to be a hard-fought battle here. There's still a lot of hockey left."

Posted On Monday, 04.21.2014 / 2:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin out, but Foligno set to return

COLUMBUS – The Columbus Blue Jackets will be missing defenseman Fedor Tyutin for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Gibbons and Tyutin were injured Saturday during the Blue Jackets' 4-3 double overtime win that evened the series at 1-1.

Columbus, coming off the first postseason win in franchise history, will have wing Nick Foligno in the lineup after he sat the past seven games with a lower-body injury. Foligno had 18 goals in the regular season.

"He's going to come in and provide a little spark for us," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "There's some different elements that Nick brings. Nick can play different ways based on the skill set. He's big. He can skate. He's got a physical edge to him."

Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 6:31 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Columbus has Blue Jackets fever after Game 2 win

COLUMBUS -- The cell phones in the Columbus Blue Jackets' dressing room at Center Energy Center started going crazy at 10:46 p.m. Saturday after Matt Calvert scored the winner in the second overtime for a historic 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not only did Calvert's goal enable the Blue Jackets to even the Eastern Conference First Round series at a one game apiece, it was their first victory in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since entering the NHL as an expansion team for the 2000-01 season.

Obviously, the win meant a lot to the long-suffering fans, and the players could sense their joy from 185 miles to the east in Pittsburgh.

"It's huge," Columbus center Ryan Johansen said. "You just look at reading Twitter after the game, as simple as that, and seeing the excitement around the city."


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