It began to look like deja vu all over again for fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins as goalie Marc-Andre Fleury allowed 3 goals on the first 14 shots he faced to put the Pens in a hole. But, the beleaguered goalie turned aside the last 20 shots put on him to allow his team to come back and beat the underdog Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 to open the series.
Jack Johnson and Mark Letestu scored in the first period for Columbus, sandwiching a goal by Evgeni Malkin to carry the 2-1 lead into the intermission. Columbus made it 3-1 on a shorthanded goal by Derek MacKenzie in the first minute of the second and it looked like the Penguins were in trouble. However, the Pens power play, ranked first in the regular season, bailed them out of trouble. Shortly after MacKenzie’s shorty, Beau Bennett tipped in a Matt Niskanen shot and then Niskanen scored on a second straight power play to tie the game in short order.
Brandon Sutter scored the game winner for Pittsburgh midway through the third period on a nice rush to allow Pittsburgh to escape with a win in a game that featured so-so goaltending from both Fleury and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky.
Columbus served notice that despite the fact the franchise has never won a post-season game, let alone a series, that they will not be pushovers. They got into the face of superstar Sidney Crosby at every available opportunity, taking a page from the book of the Philadelphia Flyers in trying to get the Kid off his game.
Game 2 goes Saturday evening in Pittsburgh.