Who says the team that scores first can’t win the game?
With that being said, Pittsburgh fans can exhale, because after almost blowing a near insurmountable lead again, it’s finally time to move on to the next series.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have advanced to the second-round, after dispatching the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in Game 6 Monday, courtesy of Evgeni Malkin’s second career playoff hat-trick.
Pittsburgh came out guns blazing in the first period.
Opening the scoring 9:11-minutes into the stanza, Malkin, who was sitting right in front of the net, received a beautiful cross-ice pass from Chris Kunitz, and buried home his first of the postseason with a nice little wrist-shot.
Continuing to push the pace, the hard forechecking from Pittsburgh awarded them with a power-play opportunity, where Malkin would pot his second.
With 6:47-minutes left in the first, Malkin was the beneficiary of a Sidney Crosby pass, and sent home another wrister in the slot. Defenseman Matt Niskanen garnered the secondary assist on the play.
Barely touching the ice at the start of the second, Pittsburgh would get yet another tally.
Just 33-seconds into the second period, center Brandon Sutter – who had a phenomenal series – re-directed the biscuit past ‘Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, giving Pittsburgh a stout 3-0 advantage.
And then, the dagger proved to be Malkin’s third goal of the game.
With 4:38-minutes left in the second, Malkin carried the puck down ice, prepped his shot, and fired it in to complete the hat-trick. Forward Jussi Jokinen and Niskanen collected the assists on the play.
But Columbus wouldn’t go quietly.
Columbus would add a shorthanded goal from defenseman Fedor Tyutin later on in the third, and then two more within a two-minute span from forwards Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno, but the deficit was just too much to overcome in the end.
Marc-Andre Fleury made some crucial saves at the most imperative times. Stopping 24-of-27 ‘Jackets chances, Fleury fought off another Columbus’ comeback, and the media scrutiny that would have happened afterwards.
However, it was a costly win.
Crashing awkwardly into the boards, Sutter was seen grimacing on the ice, and then immediately hobbled down the runway in the second period. He never returned. And the same went for forward Joe Vitale, who banged knees with ‘Jackets forward Blake Comeau. Vitale was helped off the ice.
There’s a growing understanding that Pens’ fans are elated to see this series end. The ‘Jackets would not go away, and it was obviously reminiscent of last year’s round-one matchup with the New York Islanders.
Now, Pittsburgh has some time to regroup before embarking on their second-round series with either the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers.
But who knows if Sutter or Vitale are going to be ready. Sutter may be available, but Vitale’s injury may be more severe. We’ll just have to wait and see what their conditions are.
Pens win the series 4-2.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins