Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Blue Jackets force game five against Penguins

Has John Tortorella, the Columbus Blue Jackets head coach and man with a legendary temper, mellowed out a little bit?

The Penguins won the series four games to one in their attempt at a back-to-back Stanley Cup Championship.

Things got a bit dicey at the end there, with the Penguins nearly clawing all the way back in a game they trailed 3-0, 4-2 and 5-3 at different points in the contest, but when the full 60 minutes had been played in Game 4 of the first-round tilt between Pittsburgh and Columbus, the Blue Jackets had finally pulled out their first victory of the series.

This year, Columbus set franchise records with 50 wins and 108 points.

Jack Johnson, Josh Anderson, Markus Nutivaara, William Karlsson and Boone Jenner each had a goal for the Blue Jackets.

Columbus still trails 3-1 in the competitive series, which shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday night.

"Get that thing off of me", he said, but with way more mirth than annoyance. How can the Predators, what with superb showings from Pekka Rinne and even more promising work from their slew of scorers, not be crowned new, legitimate contenders in the West?

The Penguins weren't able to finish off their Metropolitan Division rivals on the road. Rick Nash scored the game-winning goal less than five minutes into the second period.

It was not the Penguins' most polished performance but any kind of victory in the post-season is a good one and that is certainly the way Mike Sullivan viewed the evening. "We just have to go out and play our game".

"We're all excited here tonight", Columbus winger Brandon Saad said.

"We were in the game all night long. We just got to keep doing it".

Columbus gained some momentum and found some life. I don't think they had the same jump they normally have. They didn't do that and it could have bitten them if not for the play of Fleury. Pittsburgh scored at least three goals in all five games and at least four in four of them to leave the Blue Jackets still searching for their first playoff series victory. In Game 3, Columbus led 3-1 and ended up losing 5-4 in overtime. They were being outshot 8-3 through the first 3:31 of regulation and 9-4 through the first 8:07. The Blue Jackets seemed to find some offensive power in Games 3 and 4 on their own turf, but the Penguins outscored them 7-2 in Games 1 and 2.

"We just made a decision to keep them off the ice", Sullivan said. Now they will try to carry that over into Game 5 in Edmonton on Thursday night.

In fact, Crosby did just that, scoring on a one-timer from Evgeni Malkin for a power-play goal and some breathing room at 5:31 of the third before Scott Wilson scored 51 seconds later on a backward tip to give the Penguins an insurmountable 5-2 lead.

Canadiens-Rangers was close, the Penguins made it interesting but came up short, and the Oilers served up the biggest dud of the playoffs; getting thrashed in the first blowout of the playoffs.

  • Julie Sanders