by Drew Sarver
The first rule of fight club is, don’t give the Penguins a Power Play
The Columbus Blue Jackets better learn rule #1 in a hurry after losing playoff series opener to the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3
Mark Letestu had given the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead after one period with a power play tally of his own. But Blake Comeau took an interference penalty with 16 seconds left the opening period. The Pens’ carry-over PP didn’t start well in the second period thanks to Derek MacKenzie’s breakaway short-handed goal.
Columbus was seemingly in control of the game, and then they weren’t. Still on the PP, Matt Niskanen shaved the lead in half with a blast from the right point that was deflected past Sergei Bobrovsky by Beau Bennett. Just 35 seconds, Jack Johnson went off for interference and the Pens were right back on the ice with 5 on 4 advantage.
Sidney Crosby sent a pass above the right circle to Evgeni Malkin at the right point. Malkin quickly found Niskanen in the left circle and the Pens’ defenseman whipped a wrist shot into the net to tie the game at three apiece.
Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury shut down the Blue Jackets the rest of the way and Brandon Sutter notched the game winner in the third period. A turnover at the Pittsburgh blue line created a two-on-one opportunity with Sutter skating down the right side. With the passing lane to Ray Whitney blocked, Sutter kept the puck and fired it through Bobrosvsky at 8:08, for what proved to be the game-winner.
Sidney Crosby was held to one assist, but the Pens have so many weapons, losing Game 1 doesn’t bode well for Columbus.
The Blue Jackets will also need to improve on face-offs; the Pens won 56% ot those taken.
Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.