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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 6:16 PM

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

No update on Blue Jackets' Tyutin; Foligno may return

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards didn't divulge any reasons in his postgame briefing Saturday why defenseman Fedor Tyutin left after one period of the Blue Jackets' 4-3 double overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Consol Energy Center.

He remained secretive Sunday.

"No update on Fedor," Richards said. "We aren't going to get into injuries or what's going on with guys. You guys can ask all you want."

He generally has been forthcoming this season, but this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Columbus and Pittsburgh are tied at one game apiece heading into Game 3 Monday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).


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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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Posted On Saturday, 04.19.2014 / 12:42 PM

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

Umberger returns for Blue Jackets; Foligno not ready

PITTSBURGH -- Columbus Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger will return Saturday, and forward Nick Foligno remains sidelined for at least one more game.

Umberger will play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Umberger missed the past five games, including the opener of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with an upper-body injury.

"It's definitely hard to watch, especially a playoff game in my hometown," Umberger said. "You want to be out there as much as you can, helping your guys and your team. It was hard, but I'm excited to be back tonight."

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:34 PM

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

Murray embodies pluck of Blue Jackets' young talent

COLUMBUS -- Bloodied but undeterred describes the Stanley Cup Playoff experience for rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, one of 11 Columbus Blue Jackets players who made their postseason debuts Wednesday.

Murray took a hard but clean check by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett midway through the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 series won by the Penguins 4-3.

The collision sent Murray to the bench with blood streaming from his nose that had to be plugged, but he returned to rack up 23:50 of ice time and his plus-1 rating was the only positive number among the Blue Jackets' six defensemen.

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:18 PM

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

Foligno could join Umberger in returning for Jackets

COLUMBUS -- After saying Thursday that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno would not play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series, a day later coach Todd Richards is reconsidering.

Foligno, who has missed the past six games with a knee injury, had another excellent practice Friday and may make it hard for Richards to keep him out of the lineup when the Blue Jackets again chase the franchise's first Stanley Cup Playoff win Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins won Game 1 of the best-of-7 series 4-3 on Wednesday.

Richards will consult with athletic trainer Mike Vogt and Foligno after the morning skate Saturday.

"If you ask Nick, he wants to play tomorrow, but we've got to make the right decision," Richards said. "Sometimes you have to intervene because they just want to play. You don't want to put them in a risky position where they can make it worse."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 3:38 PM

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

Jackets' Umberger possible for Game 2, Foligno out

COLUMBUS -- Protocol dictates RJ Umberger's return to the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup from an upper-body injury will be decided after consultation between him, the medical staff and coach Todd Richards.

Otherwise, the forward would have been on the ice Wednesday for the Blue Jackets' 4-3 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"If it was up to me I would have played last night," Umberger said Thursday when asked if he'll be ready for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Forward Nick Foligno (knee) said he is close to being cleared to play as well, but Richards offered a different opinion on his status.

"Foligno won't be in the lineup Saturday," he said. "We're hoping possibly Monday for Game 3. We're going to see how practice goes Friday for RJ. There's a possibility he can play in Game 2."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 12:56 PM

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

Penguins prepared to adjust lines to create matchups

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins lines could remain flexible throughout their Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Game 2 will take place at Consol Energy Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Pittsburgh made several line adjustments during its 4-3 win in Game 1 Wednesday, primarily to the wings on three of its lines. The Penguins swapped forwards Tanner Glass, who began the game as the third-line left wing, and Brian Gibbons under certain circumstances.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 1:15 PM

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

Malkin, Vitale likely to play Game 1 for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- All indications point toward the Pittsburgh Penguins having their healthiest lineup in several months entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Forwards Evgeni Malkin (foot) and Joe Vitale (mid body) skated for the second consecutive day Wednesday morning. Neither has been officially announced as part of Pittsburgh's lineup for Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC), but their returns are likely.

Malkin worked in his normal spot as the second-line center, while Vitale centered the fourth line between forwards Brian Gibbons and Craig Adams.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 3:32 PM

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

Dubinsky, Murray return to Blue Jackets practice

COLUMBUS -- There were two numbers of interest among the media attending Columbus Blue Jackets practice Tuesday: 17 and 27.

Those numerals belonged to center Brandon Dubinsky and rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, respectively. They happened to be the two uninjured players who were given maintenance days Monday by coach Todd Richards while the rest of the Blue Jackets prepared to open their Eastern Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, NBCSN).

There was speculation Murray might be ailing a bit after he sat out the regular-season finale Saturday at the Florida Panthers because he only recently returned from missing a month following arthroscopic knee surgery. Dubinsky had a gimpy knee from a collision in the Florida game.

But Murray and Dubinsky joined their teammates in a vigorous workout Tuesday in the practice facility adjacent to Nationwide Arena. A few aches and pains won't keep them out of the lineup.

"I had some opportunity to take some time off the ice, so I took advantage of it," Murray said. "At this point of the season you've got to get ready no matter what. I feel good. I'm ready to go."

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday