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Game 4 Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Penguins

Jackets will fight for post season lives in Game Four

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL /





There's no two ways about it. If the Blue Jackets want to keep playing in the post-season, Tuesday's Game Four at Nationwide Arena is a must-win game.

The Jackets are down 3-0 to the Penguins, but they want to start chipping away at this series one game at a time and then build win after win, a streak if you will.

"There's a lot of streaky teams in this league and you look at our team we were very streaky this year," Scott Hartnell said.

"Other than the last few games of the year we hadn't lost more than two in a row. It says a lot about this group and if there's any time to pull something out of our hat, it's right now. We have to lay it on the line Tuesday.

"You can't win four in one game. But you can win Game Four and put the series back in Pittsburgh."

Here are five things to watch for:

New defensive lineup.

With Zach Werenski out for the balance of the post-season, a different defenseman will go into the lineup Tuesday. Head coach John Tortorella has a couple familiar faces from which he can choose.

Kyle Quincey played 20 games with the Jackets this season after being acquired at the trade deadline and has two goals and one assist in that span. Quincey has played in 54 post-season games with two other NHL teams in his career. The other option, Markus Nutivaara, played 66 games in his rookie campaign this season with the Jackets and earned two goals and five assists.

Manage the momentum.

Managing momentum has been a huge area of focus for this Jackets squad this year. It is something that Tortorella wants to see his team get back to Tuesday night. After building a 3-1 lead in the first period of Game Three, the Jackets allowed three Penguins goals before answering with a tying score late in the third.

Video: John Tortorella on continuing the same approach

"I think we have the proper energy through the game," Tortorella said. "But I thought we lost ourselves in the second period. I think (the Penguins) turned it up a little bit then and we had some struggles in our end zone. They surged, and we couldn't get that momentum back for a number of minutes."

The desperation level doesn't change.

The Jackets know the stakes going into Tuesday's game. But the team doesn't want to allow itself to fall prey to desperation.

We can't change the way we play," David Savard said. "When we play our game, we get chances. We just have to stay focused. We can't panic in here. It's time to rally around each other and we'll be fine.

Video: Savard talks about the importance of the team's focus

"We can find another level through focus. (We need to) find a way to be more focused and limit their chances offensively. If we keep forechecking and doing our job down low, we'll win the game."

Defend against Guentzel - Crosby - Sheary.

Rookie Jake Guentzel has the most post-season goals of any NHL player, including a hat trick in Game Three, and is third in post-season points (4-1-5) in the league. He plays on a line with Rocket Richard winner Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary that has proven to be tough competition for the Jackets.

"It's a good line," Brandon Dubinsky said. "We can't let them score three goals tomorrow night. It's going to be a big challenge for me and, most likely, my line. We have to be ready to accept that challenge and perform to the best of our ability. (It's about) time and space. We need to make sure we are doing the best we can to make it hard on them to make plays and get their feet moving."

Keep the starts fast.

The Jackets have had three fast starts, and in Game Three they had the first score, something they wanted to do to reinforce the quality of their early play. Now, as they focus on keeping momentum consistent, that must not impact the way the Jackets get going out of the gate.

Video: Scott Hartnell talks game-by-game mindset

"We have to focus on that first five minutes like we did last game and get that first goal like we did and learn to play with it," Hartnell said.

Calvert's return.

Forward Matt Calvert will likely return to the Jackets' lineup after serving a one-game suspension for a cross-check late in Game Two against Tom Kuhnhackl. Having Calvert back is a boost to the Jackets' penalty kill which has been valiant in stopping six of eight opportunities the Penguins have had with the man advantage in the series.

"It was tough to watch Game Three," Calvert said. "You want to be out there helping your teammates. I'm just going to come back, play my game, bring energy, play hard and try to help out the team."

Projected Lineup:

Jenner - Dubinsky - Atkinson

Saad - Wennberg - Foligno

Hartnell - Gagner - Bjorkstrand

Calvert - Karlsson - Anderson

Carlsson - Jones

Johnson - Savard

Quincey - Harrington


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