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CBJ Today: April 22

by Brad Friedman / Columbus Blue Jackets

Playoff losses hurt, but with game four looming, the Blue Jackets are eager to learn from their game three performance and focus on Wednesday night’s matchup with Pittsburgh.

“We’re not going to get down about it, we’re not going to pout about it, there’s not enough time,” defenseman Jack Johnson said, “It’s a waste of energy and we’re excited for game four.”

While dwelling on the past is not encouraged by the Columbus coaching staff, there is much to be learned from the series and last night’s contest.

“Closing games out is huge. It’s a learning experience for us not only to play hard, but to play smart,” defensemenJames Wisniewski said.

After a Cam Atkinson tip-in goal put the Jackets up 3-1, the Penguins netted three goals over the course of 2:13 to make the score 4-3 with 11:54 to play. The road team also outshot Columbus 15-5 in the final stanza.

Coach Todd Richards placed an emphasis on being able to take pressure off Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus defense.

“They’re a rush attack team and we need to neutralize their speed as best we can,” Richards said, ”When (the Penguins) are skating, putting pucks into places and putting pressure on you, they’re a tough team to play against.”

Though Columbus has allowed at least three goals in each game of the series, big names like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Kris Letang have yet to light the lamp.

Richards acknowledged that it will be unlikely to keep those players goalless, but that trapping Pittsburgh in its own zone will be the only way that this stat could hold true.

“We’ve been giving them lots of opportunities to be able to finish,” Richards said. “Those are dangerous guys and we know that.”

Update from morning practice

An optional morning skate was held this morning, so last night’s lines remain intact for now.

What fans can expect Wednesday night is a squad that won’t get caught up in the moment, according to Richards.

Game three was similar to game one with the matchup being another “first:” the first home playoff game. Unfortunately for the Jackets, 3-1 leads were lost in both contests.

With so many playoff newcomers, Richards admitted that the flurry of emotions that accompanied the raucous home atmosphere derailed the team’s thinking on the ice.

“Hopefully we can learn from that and now we know what to expect coming into game four,” alternate captain Mark Letestu said. “I’m sure that we’ll make the adjustments much like we did for game two.”

The good news for the Columbus faithful: the series is far from over. Johnson remains upbeat and insisted that not all has been lost.

“We have a chance to tie this series and it’s a sprint to the finish after that,” Johnson said.

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