The Columbus Blue Jackets scored first, then never gave up the lead in their first playoff victory of 2017.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had five different players score goals tonight, (Jack Johnson, Josh Anderson, Markus Nutivaara, William Karlsson and Boone Jenner) all of which were their first of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs respectively.
Jack Johnson got the first goal of the hockey game with a centering pass that went off Sidney Crosby’s skate and into the back of the net at the 11:46 mark of the first period.
Josh Anderson made it 2-0 when he showed off his speed in transition and got the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury with only 64 seconds left in the opening period.
Anderson’s goal came on an odd-man rush, an occurrence that happened multiple times in the game. Here’s what he said afterwards:
We knew that if, if we play defense we’d get odd-man rushes and that’s what we did.
The Jackets, however, could’ve been doomed from the start after a hooking penalty from Nick Foligno led to a Pittsburgh power play just 19 seconds after the puck drop. Columbus of course killed off the penalty and actually gained some momentum after the early mistake.
At the 4:48 mark of the second period defenseman Markus Nutivaara scored in his postseason debut.
Nobody in their right mind would expect the Penguins to give up three consecutive goals to start this hockey game. Here’s some of what their Head Coach Mike Sullivan had to say in his postgame press conference:
We weren’t committed like our team usually is…I know we’re better and I know we will be better, but we certainly weren’t good enough tonight.
Speed in transition seemed to be an x factor for the CBJ tonight. Nutivaara had this to say about what’s most important for the Jackets moving forward:
Move the puck quick and we have to be fast all the time.
Following second-period goals from Patric Hornqvist and Ron Hainsey to cut the lead to 3-2, it was William Karlsson of the Blue Jackets who showed off his speed, skating around the net before corralling the puck after a funky bounce off the boards and putting it into the back of the net just 27 seconds into the third period to extend the Columbus lead to two once again.
Tom Kuhnhackl cut the deficit back to one at the 2:10 mark of the third period before Boone Jenner answered with a goal of his own for the Jackets at the 5:37 mark.
Dubinsky said Columbus
Did a better job of calming things down and getting momentum back.
Head Coach John Tortorella echoed those comments saying “we bent a little bit but then we ended up scoring”. He then had this to say later:
We didn’t allow them to surge for many minutes in the third period.
The Pens couldn’t cut the deficit to one until there were only 28 seconds remaining in regulation.
The result is the same no matter how you slice it, but Sullivan’s comments were telling about why his team lost and the Jackets won in Game 4:
This game we gave up the, the most chances against and the highest quality…that hasn’t been the case in the first three games.
When Sullivan was asked about momentum, he seemingly shut down that topic with this comment:
Every game is it’s own entity.
The Columbus Blue Jackets now trail 3-1 in the series. The offense has scored nine regulation goals in their last two games combined and Sergei Bobrovsky has yet to return to his prime form from the regular season. While the odds may be stacked against Columbus with the Pittsburgh Penguins on the other end, there’s no such thing as a sure thing in the playoffs. The Pens and Jackets will play again on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.