Apr 21, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a save on the backhand shot from Columbus Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner (38) during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Pittsburgh defeated Columbus 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Two-Goal Lead

Monday was certainly a disappointment. After having their second 3-1 lead this series, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave up three third period goals to lose at home in game three on Monday. A recurring theme in this series has been blowing leads. Specifically, the 3-1 lead. Every hockey fan knows the old saying that a two-goal lead is the worst in hockey, but no teams know it’s truth better than the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Exhibit one: Columbus in game one. The Jackets arrive in Pittsburgh for their first Playoff appearance in five years. Late in the second period, the Jackets found themselves ahead 2-1, but killing a penalty. In a game against the best PP team in the NHL, that was a scary thought. However, Derek MacKenzie put the fears to rest, scoring a shorthanded goal to give the Jackets the lead 3-1. As you probably know, that lead didn’t hold. They gave up three goals to lose the first game 4-3.

Exhibit two: Pittsburgh in game two. Jackets fans mourned the loss of game two after finding themselves down 3-1 after the first period. It wasn’t meant to be, however. The Jackets came back and scored one goal in the following two periods, all while holding the Penguins to only 3. The game was tied after regulation, and overtime commenced. The score remained 3-3 after 80 minutes of play, and period five began. Shortly thereafter, Matt Calvert became the hero as he netted the overtime goal that meant sudden-death for Pittsburgh, as well as securing the franchise’s first post-season win.

Exhibit three: As mentioned, Columbus in a disappointing home loss in game three. The Jackets found themselves ahead 2-1 after two periods of play, after having given up a goal with 1.8 seconds to play in the second period. They rebounded well though, and found themselves up, you guessed it, 3-1 early in the third. However, they gave up three goals in under five minutes in the third period to lose that game 4-3.

So what does this mean going forward? Is the strategy for tonight to get down 3-1 and take advantage of the worst lead in hockey? That doesn’t seem like much of a game plan. Somehow, one of these teams is going to have to figure out how to break that streak, and I predict that whoever can take a lead and hold it will be the team who wins this series.

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