FINAL: BLUE JACKETS 3, PENGUINS 4
EAST QUARTERFINAL | GAME 6
NATIONWIDE ARENA | COLUMBUS, OH
WATCH: Nick Foligno 3rd period goal | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Nick Foligno 3rd period goal | LISTEN
WATCH: Artem Anisimov's 3rd period PP goal | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Artem Anisimov's 3rd period PP goal | LISTEN
WATCH: Fedor Tyutin 3rd period SH goal | CLICK TO WATCH
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: It didn't get much better for the Jackets in the middle period, surrendering two more goals and finding themselves in a big hole with 20 minutes to play. Just after a penalty expired to the Penguins, the puck got by James Wisniewski at the blue line and it gave Brandon Sutter a clear-cut breakaway. He made no mistake, making it 3-0 Penguins just 34 seconds into the third period - but the Penguins weren't done there. Malkin completed the hat trick on a 2-on-1 midway through the period, staking Pittsburgh to a 4-0 lead and giving the Jackets one heck of a task in the third period. Shots are 23-17 in favor of Pittsburgh through 40 minutes, but the Blue Jackets simply need to find more time with the puck - something they haven't had much of so far tonight.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Penguins team that showed up for the first period of Game 6 was much like that which played the last two periods of Game 5. Pittsburgh has been the faster, more aggressive team in the first 20 minutes and the scoreboard reflects it; the visitors have a 2-0 lead on two goals from Evgeni Malkin (who hadn't scored in the series until tonight), the second one coming on the power play following a Nick Foligno roughing penalty. The Blue Jackets looked a bit rattled in the first period, chasing the game at times and not doing the things that have made them successful this season. The forecheck dissipated after the first five minutes, and it felt like the Penguins had the puck for the entirety of the period. Columbus will open the second period on the power play for 28 seconds, and they'll need more than the seven shots they put on Fleury in the first period to chip away at the deficit.
READ: Fans Sacrifice Sleep for Tickets | READ
UPDATE: Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he plans to "feel out" different scenarios in his lineup throughout the game, including putting forwards Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby on a line together at some point, just like on Saturday. Richards said earlier that he expects this to occur and is plans to change accordingly.
UPDATE: The Penguins' lines during the morning skate were the same as the ones used on Saturday. Forward Brian Gibbons skated for the first time since Game 2 in Pittsburgh, but defenseman Brooks Orpik was absent from practice and hasn't skated since he left practice early on Friday. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the lineup with be a game-time decision, but it looks like both Gibbons and Orpik will be out of the lineup Monday.
WATCH: Today's Rink Report | CLICK TO WATCH
WATCH: Pre Game Interviews (CLICK NAME TO PLAY) - RICHARDS | LETESTU | JOHANSEN | JOHNSON
PHOTOS: Check out the line of fans already outside Nationwide Arena -- we hear the first person has been in line since 5 PM...YESTERDAY | CLICK TO VIEW
MORNING SKATE: The series now shifts back to Columbus, where the Blue Jackets and Penguins play the first elimination game of the series on Monday night. The team will hold a morning skate at 10 a.m. at Nationwide Arena 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!
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said Sunday that he may tweak his forward lines in advance of Monday’s Game 6 at Nationwide Arena, but he did not tip his hand as to what kind of changes may be in store. The personnel is not expected to change, but there could be a shuffling of the deck to try and jump-start the offense in a win-or-go-home situation.
The same group of six defensemen used in Game 5 is expected to remain intact for Game 6, which would indicate that Nick Schultz and Dalton Prout are scratched.
The Blue Jackets are not looking at Game 6 as a “last hurrah,” as Richards put it during his Sunday press conference. They’re treating it as an opportunity to even the series at three games apiece and head back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 on Wednesday.
And as they’ve done all season long, they will have to answer the bell one more time with their backs against the wall. The Penguins, under pressure from their fans and local media after a Game 4 loss in Columbus, handled their end of the response with an impressive victory in Game 5 despite 48 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky.
Pittsburgh out-shot the Blue Jackets from start to finish and dominated the game for long stretches, but still, it was a 1-1 game entering the third period.
For as many grade-A chances that went by the wayside in Game 5, it was a trio of “garbage goals” that counted on the scoresheet. Boone Jenner’s power play goal got it started in the first period when he jammed in a loose puck at the side of the net, and in the second period, the Penguins answered with a wacky power play tally of their own thanks to Chris Kunitz.
In a third period that was mostly controlled by the Penguins, they capitalized first on another bizarre sequence around the Blue Jackets net. Both defensemen appeared to lose track of the puck and Jussi Jokinen found it, slid it into the open side, and gave Pittsburgh its first lead with 6:16 gone in the final period.
With their win in Game 5, the Penguins held serve on home ice and did what they needed to do. And now, the Blue Jackets have their chance to match it.
RJ Umberger said matter-of-factly that the Blue Jackets “have to be a lot better” than they were in Game 5, and that’s aside from the lopsided shot differential. They were not winning the puck battles in the offensive zone, their dump-ins were not as effective as they were in Games 3 and 4, and they gave the Penguins a few too many opportunities on the power play.
The Blue Jackets managed Game 4 pretty well despite falling behind 3-0 in the first period, and once they got going, they were able to establish their forecheck and do the things that have made them successful. That never happened in Game 5, and that’s something they will focus on prior to puck drop on Monday night at Nationwide Arena.
GAME 7: AT PITTSBURGH
WEDNESDAY, 7 P.M.
CONSOL ENERGY CENTER