In just a matter of minutes, what seemed to be a promising effort from the Columbus Blue Jackets turned to a grim reminder as to why the Penguins demand the respect that they do.
At the start of the game, the Blue Jackets were a relentless swarm on the forecheck, and a stifling force in their own zone. They quickly jumped out to a 2 goal lead less than 5 minutes into the game, which naturally caused Nationwide Arena to absolutely erupt. Yes, things were going better than anyone would have predicted for the Jackets at first.
But the thing with the Penguins is that they will never just lay down and give in. The hard fought second period ended with a Brooks Orpik goal sliding through the wickets of Sergei Bobrovsky with a mere 1.2 seconds left. Goals given up late in a period are always backbreaking, but this one just seemed worse considering the opponent.
In the third, the Pens swarmed for 1 minute, but about 20 seconds later Brandon Dubinsky walked around Kris Letang and fired a backhander at the net that deflected off Cam Atkinson and in, giving the CBJ a 3-1 lead. The ensuing flurry of action led to another Penguins goal to bring them within 1 goal, followed by another quick goal by Lee Stempniak to tie the game. The go-ahead goal was probably the most frustrating, as it banked off of James Wisniewski as well as Bobrovsky on its way into the net. Sadly, no more goals would be scored for either side, and this one went to the Pens 4-3.
I think all CBJ fans have the same reaction. Frustration with the loss to the point of anger. But there are some incredible positives to be taken from this one. Think about the atmosphere at NWA tonight, and how electric it was. I can promise you that Pittsburgh heard the 5th line tonight, and they will hear it again come game 4.
And think of not only the fantastic start this team had, but the fight they showed to the finish. Dubinsky very nearly had the goal of the year with 2 seconds left, dancing around the Pens’ defense with a nifty toe drag, cutting to the front of the net with Ryan Johansen waiting, but neither could keep a handle on the puck.
All in all, yes it makes sense to experience vast amounts of frustration, but it’s even more important to notice the positives from this game. There’s a lot to be proud of tonight, but let’s put this one to bed and move on to game 4.