COLUMBUS – In the wake of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky being bombarded with 50 shots while being pushed, knocked down and high-sticked in Game 5, the Columbus Blue Jackets promise to make life difficult at the other end of the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 on Monday at Nationwide Arena.
The Penguins took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series with a 3-1 home victory Saturday by limiting the Blue Jackets to 24 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury while being all over Bobrovsky.
Columbus plans to change that Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).
“We need to start taking liberties on Fleury,” Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson said. “That’s the only other way to counter it. You have to be careful to stay out of the box, but it’s also the responsibility of the referees to call some penalties if there are some.”
Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said Columbus needs to return to the hard-hitting style which was working the first four games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We’ve got to make it tough on Fleury,” he said. “That doesn’t mean running him over and taking penalties. It’s going hard and making sure it’s a difficult night for him, a difficult night for their defensemen going back and chasing pucks all night.
“We definitely need to be more physical and make them pay the price. That goes back to our forecheck. Our forecheck wasn’t hard enough. We weren’t physical. We didn’t create enough turnovers.”
The Blue Jackets argued the Penguins were allowed to harangue Bobrovsky during stoppages in Game 5 without fear of penalties.
“The weird thing is right they said right from beginning of this playoff series is they were going to call anything after the whistle; any little scrum that they were going to call,” Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski said. “Then you have that borderline, if they do something do you go in there and then they take you as a penalty?
“First and foremost, we’ve got to protect that blue area. Bob is a world-class goalie and he’s a big part of our team, a big part of our success, so we have to make it real uncomfortable for them to want to get in there.”
Dubinsky expects the game to be decided in the battles waged around each crease.
“All three of their goals were rebound goals,” he said. “We need to find a way to create some of those scrums and some of those rebounds. We didn’t do enough of it.”
Columbus left wing RJ Umberger said the Penguins raised their performance in Game 5 and it’s up to the Blue Jackets to match their intensity.
“Now it's our turn to answer the bell,” he said. “The good thing is we're at home. We're going to have a little bit of a crowd behind us to energize us.
“It's what happens in a playoff series. It goes back and forth. They definitely dictated play the last game. So it's going to make for a fun Game 6.”