Pens Steal 4-3 Victory Over Columbus to Take 2-1 Series Lead


Apr 21, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

What a game.

Overwhelmed by a ruckus Columbus’ crowd, a fiery ‘Jackets team, and a spot-on Sergei Bobrovsky, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored three goals in a span of 2:13-minutes, to overcome a 3-1 deficit and take a 2-1 series lead.

However, with the way things started, it seemed as though Pittsburgh had no idea they were playing a game.

Within the first four-minutes of the tilt, the ‘Jackets scored two goals – courtesy of forward Boone Jenner and defenseman Jack Johnson – off statuesque defending, prompting head coach Dan Bylsma to call a timeout, and regroup his befuddled team.

Going 1-for-8 on the power-play in Game 2, Pittsburgh’s man-advantage woes would continue into the first period of Game 3. Receiving three power-play opportunities in the first 20-minutes, Pittsburgh failed to capitalize on any one of them, which was utterly disappointing.

After Pittsburgh and Columbus went a combined 0-for-5 on the power-play, Pittsburgh got a late second period tally from an unlikely source – defenseman Brooks Orpik. Unable to get the puck past Bobrovsky all game up until this point, Orpik toe-dragged from just the top of the circle, and flung a desperation wrister in for the Pens’ first goal with just two-seconds left.

So, there’s some momentum, right? With the way the third period began, it certainly didn’t look that way.

Coming into the Pens’ zone, ‘Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky wrapped a backhand shot around Kris Letang, and forward Cam Atkinson – who was at the side of the net – tipped it home to put Columbus back up two goals (3-1). But then, almost immediately following that tally, was when Pittsburgh would make its move.

With 14:07-minutes left in the third, Paul Martin took a shot from the point, and center Brandon Sutter sent the biscuit into the net, and brought the Pens back to a one-goal deficit. Just 1:06 later, off a feed from Chris Kunitz, Lee Stempniak would knot the game up at three by scoring his first goal of the playoffs. And then, to cap off the surge, it took a deflected shot to seal the deal.

Accepting a pass from center Evgeni Malkin at the point, young Olli Maatta shot a wrister at the net, to which forward Jussi Jokinen re-directed it in and put the Pens up 4-3. And after enduring a persistent rush from Columbus towards the tail end of the game, Pittsburgh stole Game 3, and rode off into the sunset – or something like that.

Despite an early couple of head-scratching goals-allowed from Marc-Andre Fleury, the netminder turned in a winning effort, as he stopped 17-of-20 shots he faced. Although Fleury looked to be the goat on the first two tallies, he really didn’t receive any help from his defense, which again lacked responsibility in this game.

Here are the other stats to pass along : Beau Bennett and Paul Martin had two assists, while Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each garnered a helper.

It was certainly an impressive comeback, but this contest was far from acceptable for Pittsburgh.

The Pens are really playing with fire here. This game could’ve easily been won by Columbus, and if Pittsburgh doesn’t exercise caution, this series is heading into a carbon copy matchup with last year’s New York Islanders’ team.

There’s a lot for Pittsburgh to improve on. They can start by playing a full 60-minute game – instead of just when they need to turn it on.

Wednesday’s Game 4 can be seen on the NBC Sports Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.