Thursday, 27 April, 2017

Blue Jackets, Wild in danger of being swept out of playoffs

Blue Jackets Penguins Hockey-14 Columbus forward Matt Calvert was suspended one game by the NHL on Saturday for his cross-check of Tom Kuhnhackl late in the Penguins' 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets in Game 2 of their playoff series Friday night Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins - 4/16/17 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Kristopher Love | 20 April, 2017, 07:24

Tough takes on a new meaning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

To be fair, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sergei Bobrovsky in particular, were practically stealing money given how they conducted themselves for the first three games of the series.

Patric Hornqvist, Ron Hainsey and Tom Kuhnhackl also scored for Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury - pressed into service because of an injury to Matt Murray at the start of the series - had 29 saves.

The Blue Jackets finally flipped the script last night, grabbing a 3-0 lead and never relinquishing it despite a serious pushback from the Penguins.

Markus Nutivaara, William Karlsson and Boone Jenner each had a goal and an assist and Columbus held on to beat Pittsburgh on Tuesday, avoiding a sweep in the best-of-seven playoff series. In order for the team to have any chance at survival, he'll have to stand on his head to prevent Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, and the talented Pittsburgh offense to break the game open. That still wasn't enough to slow down the Pittsburgh Penguins, who dealt the Blue Jackets a third straight playoff loss and put them on the brink of elimination. Calvert didn't want to talk about the play Monday, but he did say it wasn't payback for anything that happened in the game.

"I'm just proud of the leadership he showed to come back and play and make a difference", Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky said. He also couldn't corral Malkin's sharp-angle shot in the same game that produced the third goal in a 3-1 loss.

Considering that this will likely be one game, this move is for the best. This wasn't officially a must win game, but it was pretty much a must win game, if the Jackets were going to get back into the series. Because falling behind 3-0 in their first-round series indicated they'd virtually already hit rock bottom. "We just got to keep doing it".

The Grosse Pointe native played two seasons for the Wolverines from 2014-16 and had 20 goals and 41 assists in 71 games. Hard-hitting winger Zack Kassian has turned into a clutch goal-scorer in the playoffs with the game-winners in back-to-back contests to give Edmonton the lead in the series after dropping the opener in overtime.

Coach Mike Yeo said Stastny is day to day. "He's been tremendous for us".

After Tuesday's five-goal outing, in fact, the Blue Jackets have piled on nine in their last two after scoring just two goals in the opening pair of series showdowns. The Columbus goalie got most of the shot, but it dribbled in off of him anyway to give the Penguins life heading into the second intermission.