It took 11 seconds for the Columbus Blue Jackets to find the back of the net in Game 3. However, it was the Pittsburgh Penguins who showed off their resiliency in the end and battled back to win 5-4 in overtime.
Nationwide Arena was deafening after Cam Atkinson scored for the Columbus Blue Jackets just 11 seconds into the game. Atkinson scored again at the 5:02 mark and the home club took a 3-1 lead with 13:50 remaining in the first period on a power-play goal from Zach Werenski.
Everything was going right for the Blue Jackets. However, they’re facing the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Penguins (once again) found a way to win.
Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan had some surprising things to say about what happened early on in Game 3 for his club:
It was hands down our best first period…the score didn’t indicate that.
Indeed, the score did not indicate that. Although Jake Guentzel did score his first goal of the game in the first period. I write “his first” because Guentzel also scored a power-play goal in the third period and an overtime game-winning goal (giving himself a hat trick in the process) to seal the Jackets’ current fate of facing a 3-0 deficit.
The second period was one in which Columbus was outscored 2-0 on the scoreboard thanks to goals from Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin.
Brandon Dubinsky had this to say about the CBJ’s performance in the second period:
We got on our heels a little bit there in the second period.
A storyline as big as the Pens coming back, if not bigger, was Zach Werenski taking a puck to the face just moments prior to the game-tying goal from Pittsburgh in the second period to tie the score 3-3.
Jack Johnson was straightforward describing what essentially happened when Werenski went out before returning in the third period then having to stop playing in overtime once again:
It’s a big hole to fill.
Werenski’s return to the ice in the third period was a shock to many. CBJ Head Coach John Tortorella later explained why Werenski couldn’t play in OT:
He couldn’t see (out of his right eye). That’s why he couldn’t play in overtime.
Guentzel’s goal in the third period actually gave Pittsburgh a brief lead, but Brandon Dubinsky knotted the score up at 4-4 with 4:49 left in regulation.
Momentum didn’t translate into any overtime magic for the Blue Jackets. Captain Nick Foligno talked about how important momentum has been and how it could possibly turn things around for Columbus moving forward:
It’s amazing what momentum does in this series and we just gotta find a way to get it on our side and keep it.
Torts explained what the Columbus Blue Jackets need to do as a team trailing 3-0 in the series:
Clear your head. We go to work and we play another game. We play as best as you can. That’s all you do. That’s what we’re supposed to do.
Despite what was an unforgettable atmosphere and a dream-scenario start for Columbus, the team finds itself in a 3-0 deficit to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blue Jackets are now facing elimination.