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Day after rally, Richards sees Blue Jackets refocused

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Todd Richards knows his players well enough that the Columbus Blue Jackets coach is confident they're ready to move on from the Game 4 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday in their Eastern Conference First Round series.

Brandon Dubinsky tied the score 3-3 with 24 seconds left in regulation and Nick Foligno thrilled the overflow crowd of 18,970 at Nationwide Arena with the winner at 2:49 of overtime to even the Stanley Cup Playoffs best-of-7 series at 2-2.

"I think our group is really focused on the next game," Richards said Thursday. "Early on in the year, I'm talking regular season, that was something we needed to learn and understand how to deal with success.

"There's an obvious high coming out of the last game, a good feeling coming out of last night's game, and I think our players will enjoy it today. They should, but we come in tomorrow and put it behind us and get ready for the next game."

The series returns to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

While Richards understands his players, he is as baffled as everyone else by the crazy series that in all four games has seen the team to score first and lead 3-1 end up losing 4-3.

"The way that this series has gone is one team wins, the other team responds; one team wins, the other team responds," he said. "There's the response you're looking for after a win or after a defeat. There's responses in games that change the momentum of games, particular plays."

Pittsburgh led 3-0 in the first 11:10 of Game 4, but Columbus felt that the power play, particularly Ryan Johansen's 5-on-3 score in the second period to make it 3-2, was critical to the comeback.

"You don't get many 5-on-3s," Johansen said. "We knew it was a big point not only in the game, but in the series. If we could score there, we're right back in it and we'd have a great chance to win this hockey game."

The fans deserved credit for the rally as well, Richards said.

"I do remember being down 3-0 and our fans staying into the game," he said. "Then we scored the goal and you could feel the life start to build from there."

Not only are the Blue Jackets buoyed by their play, they may get two of their top six defensemen back from injury. Fedor Tyutin missed the past two games, and rookie Ryan Murray was injured in practice the morning of Game 4 and did not play.

"We're hoping that Tyutin and Murray will be back in the series," Richards said. "I don't know if it will be Saturday. [Game 6] is Monday. We're hoping to get them back, yes."

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