Until there was 10 minutes left in the third period it looked like a laugher, but the Pittsburgh Penguins let off the throttle a little bit and it almost cost them dearly.
Columbus trailed 4-0 and were shorthanded about to enter the final half of the final period, and then scored 3 goals in less than 5 minutes to make for an intense final 5 minutes. However, the Blue Jackets cannon ran out of balls and the Penguins were able to hang on and eliminate the Blue Jackets in 6 games.
Evgeni Malkin, who hadn’t scored in the last 9 Penguins playoff games dating back to last season, set the pace early with his first of 3 goals on the night before the 10 minute mark. He doubled the lead with a power play goal 4 minutes later to send the Pens to the dressing room up a pair through 20 minutes.
Brandon Sutter finished on a 2 on 0 rush 34 seconds into the second and Malkin completed his second career playoff hat trick with just over 4 and a half minutes left in the period to make it 4-0 and it seemed they could cruise to the finish.
Not so much.
Fedor Tyutin‘s wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle beat Marc-Andre Fleury far side for the shorthanded marker to get the Jackets on the board. Artem Anisimov beat Fleury short side from the top of the other circle on a power play 3 and a half minutes later as the puck went between his arm and body to make the Penguins take notice. Then 1:19 later from the slot Nick Foligno deflected a Tyutin shot/pass the beat Fleury to bring the Blue Jackets within one.
This time around, they couldn’t find the tying goal as the Penguins hung on to escape with the win. Sidney Crosby has now gone 2 full playoff series without scoring a goal, although he did have 6 assists in this series. There will also still be questions about the performance of Fleury despite the win, as he continues to surrender weak and ill-timed goals.
Credit to the Blue Jackets fans for serenading their team in a supportive manner after the game as their “C-B-J” chant was deafening.
Pittsburgh awaits the winner of the Flyers – Rangers series, which will see Game 6 played Tuesday night.