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#BattleOn Playoff Preview: Game 2

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



WATCH: Matt Calvert's game winning goal | CLICK TO PLAY

Matt Calvert's game winning goal | LISTEN

Jack Johnson 3rd period PP goal | CLICK TO WATCH

If you're having trouble breathing, well, you're not alone in this. The Blue Jackets and Penguins are headed to a second overtime at CONSOL Energy Center and each side had its share of chances in the first sudden death session. RJ Umberger Brandon Dubinsky had looks in and around the Pittsburgh net but were unable to capitalize, and the Jackets' power play generated a few chances, as well. Shots were 12-10 in favor of Pittsburgh in the first OT, but the Blue Jackets had more territorial time with two power plays for the Penguins. This has been a myriad of different games all rolled into one, but you're seeing the desperation and sacrifice coming up large on both sides - particularly the Jackets, who killed off two penalties in overtime.
THIRD PERIOD ANALYSIS: For the first time in franchise history, the Blue Jackets are headed to overtime in the playoffs after a 3-3 deadlock through 60 minutes in Pittsburgh. After falling behind 3-1 and struggling out of the gate, the Jackets have collected themselves and battled all the way back to even. Jack Johnson's second goal of the series tied the game with 6:01 to play, finishing off a remarkable one-handed pass from Ryan Johansen across the top of the crease. After being out-shot 15-4 in the first period, the Blue Jackets have turned the table and gone ahead 27-15 in that category since the first 20 minutes. They've played a strong team game over the last 40 minutes and it's given them a chance to win the game, and now, they have to finish the job.

Jack Johnson 3rd period PP goal | LISTEN

The Blue Jackets needed to re-discover their game (and fast), and they did so in the second period and have given themselves a chance to take back the game. Matt Calvert's first career playoff goal made it a one-goal game in the second period, finishing off a shorthanded 2-on-1 with a wicked wrist shot glove-side on Fleury. Unlike the other night, the Jackets did kill off the remainder of the penalty after the SHG and built some momentum around it. They out-shot Pittsburgh 15-8 in the second period and dominated long stretches of play, but they're still on the hunt for an equalizer with 20 minutes to play. After a string of minor penalties in the middle frame, you can bet a few bucks that staying out of the box is a point of emphasis entering the third period. The game is right there, and thanks to a much-improved second period, the Blue Jackets are right back in it with a chance to win it.

Matt Calvert 2nd period SH goal | CLICK TO PLAY

Matt Calvert 2nd period SH goal | LISTEN

Todd Richards said this morning that he expected a better start from the Penguins in Game 2...and his prediction was pretty much spot-on. Pittsburgh set the tone early, playing with far more pace and energy than the Jackets, and raced out to a 2-0 lead only 4:24 into the game. A weird re-direct from the point opened the scoring at 3:30, then a Brian Gibbons shorthanded goal increased the lead to two on a bad turnover at the blue line. The Blue Jackets got one back thanks to Ryan Johansen's  first career playoff goal only 45 seconds after the second Gibbons goal, but Matt Niskanen's blast from the point (PPG) restored the two-goal lead late in the period. Shots are 15-4 favoring Pittsburgh, and the play has heavily favored the home team, but the Jackets need to find their footing again in the second period. They will begin the middle frame on the power play. 

Ryan Johansen 1st period PP goal | CLICK TO PLAY

Ryan Johansen 1st period PP goal | LISTEN

Ryan Johansen's pre-game thoughts before Game 2 in Pittsburgh. | CLICK TO WATCH

WATCH: Mark Letestu looks ahead to Game 2 tonight at CONSOL Energy Center. | CLICK TO WATCH

UPDATE (12:30 PM):
Some nuggets from Todd Richards' pre-game press conference...

- The Blue Jackets are hopeful that Nick Foligno will be ready to play in Game 3 on Monday. He skated the past three days, taking part in practice yesterday in Columbus as well, and has been feeling better. A final decision isn't likely to be made until after the morning skate on Monday.

- Richards said he expects RJ Umberger to be a positive contributor to the game tonight, being a hometown guy and a player who's just getting back into the lineup. 

- Richards expects the lessons learned, aside from the Jackets just getting their feet wet, to be a benefit for them in Game 2 tonight. On the other hand, he said, he also expects Pittsburgh to play a better game tonight and come out stronger than they did on Wednesday.

UPDATE (11:30 AM):
Here are the Blue Jackets' line combinations and defense pairs from the morning skate...



UPDATE (11:25 AM):
RJ Umberger just took the ice for the Blue Jackets' morning skate at CONSOL Energy Center. Nick Foligno is not skating this morning, which would suggest he will not play tonight in Game 2.

The Blue Jackets landed in Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon and are getting set for Game 2 of their first-round series tomorrow night. The team will hold a morning skate at 11:30 a.m. at CONSOL Energy Center on Saturday, and we'll have complete coverage for you here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Penguins, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!

Could there be very good news on the horizon for the Blue Jackets and their injuries up front? It sure sounds that way, and we already know that RJ Umberger will definitely be back in the lineup for Game 2 against the Penguins.

The other possibility - something we'll be monitoring closely - is that Nick Foligno could also play. He has gone through two intense practices and may be farther along than originally thought (Richards ruled him out for Game 2 earlier this week), but no decision will be made until Saturday morning.

No changes to the defense, Richards said on Friday. The same group of six defensemen will play in Game 2. 

PITTSBURGH -- What did the Blue Jackets and Penguins learn about each other in Game 1? Further, what did the Blue Jackets learn about themselves and what they need to do for Game 2? 

First and foremost, they're focusing on puck management and turnovers that gave the Penguins offensive opportunities in transition, something they really want to clean up as the series moves along.

Their commitment to defending as a team and taking away time and space as much as possible has to be more consistent, they've said in the two days since Game 1, and they know that Game 1 was only the start of an intense battle in the opening-round series - regardless of the the disappointment surrounding the result.

The Blue Jackets are hoping to get some healthy bodies back in the lineup, too, and that will start with Pittsburgh native Umberger drawing in. He practiced Friday on left wing with Artem Anisimov and Blake Comeau, forming a solid, two-way checking line that is more than capable of chipping in offensively - Anisimov and Umberger combined for 40 goals in the regular season and Comeau provided secondary offense down the stretch while in a bottom-six role.

And one of the keys the Blue Jackets have talked about in the last two days, aside from limiting turnovers, has been keeping the game 5-on-5. They committed too many penalties for their liking in Game 1, and when you're facing a star-studded power play that was second-best in the NHL during the regular season, you really don't want to give them any additional chances.

Pittsburgh turned the game around with two quick power play goals in the second period after the Blue Jackets scored shorthanded for a 3-1 lead. Columbus' discipline is something to watch for in Game 2, but also, all eyes will be on the one (and possibly second) addition to the lineup and how the line combinations and power play units shift around.

Umberger led the Blue Jackets in power play goals during the regular season, and he has a reputation as a clutch performer in the Stanley Cup playoffs.


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