PITTSBURGH, Pa – Matt Calvert scored 1:10 into the second overtime to give the Columbus Blue Jackets their first-ever playoff victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Calvert’s second goal capped a rally from a 3-1 deficit going into the first intermission.
“It’s awesome man, every year I’ve been watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You see guys score the OT winner, and you always want to be in that position and know how it feels. It’s a tough feeling to explain, and it happens so fast. Everyone jumped on me and I haven’t had time to think about it. It’s a great feeling, a great win for our team. Our first goal is complete and now we want to go back and play in front of our home crowd and have some fun,” said Calvert.
The underdog Blue Jackets got the split on the road before heading back for Game 3 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Monday night.
Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said, “It’s big in terms of us winning the series. It’s important if you start a series on the road if you can pick up one game on the road and come back home. You’ve put yourself in a good position and we’ve let the world know that this is going to be a real playoff series. Everyone’s picked Pittsburgh to win it, but we’ve got a lot of guys in here that have fun proving people wrong.”
“I think it’s a missed opportunity. We’re at home, Game 2, we’re having a great first period, we have a two-goal lead. We’re in complete control of the hockey game and whether it’s a mistake or them capitalizing on an opportunity, the momentum changes and it took us a while to get back to playing,” said Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen.
After being moved to the top line for this game, Brian Gibbons opened the scoring for Pittsburgh with his first two career playoff goals. The first was scored 3:30 into the first period after Gibbons tipped in Niskanen’s shot from the point. His second was scored on a shorthanded breakaway, 16 seconds after Joe Vitale was sent to the penalty box for goaltender interference.
Ryan Johansen would get the Blue Jackets on the board with a power play goal at the end of Vitale’s penalty, at 5:07 of the first period in a sequence where he had already hit the post once.
Niskanen scored his second goal of the series when his shot from the point went straight in with 2:08 left in the first period to give back the Penguins’ two-goal lead.
Calvert scored his first goal shorthanded coming down the right on a 3-on-1 breakaway. Calvert took the shot himself and beat Marc-Andre Fleury on the short side 7:31 into the second period.
“They were very good in the first, but that’s something that I expected. They came out, they played hard, they played fast and at that moment they were playing at a different level than us. The shorthanded goal in the second period…I thought was the difference-maker in the game. It gave hope to our guys. It was 3-1 at the time, and it made it 3-2, and you could feel it on the bench. I thought from that moment on that we played a very strong game,” said Columbus head coach Todd Richards.
Johnson tied the game up at 3 with 6:01 left in regulation with a power play goal, after Kris Letang took an interference penalty on Matt Calvert. Johansen drove to the net down the left and found Johnson on the right side of the slot.
After going 2 for 3 in Game 1 (while allowing a shorthanded goal), the Penguins’ top-rated power play was held to 1 for 8 in Game 2, again allowing a shorthanded goal. The Blue Jackets went 2 for 6 on the power play after going 1 for 4 in Game 1.
“It ends up being three special teams goals for them tonight and it was certainly the difference in this game,” said Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma.
“I think just execution. We’re not creating enough consistently. Either we’re not entering well or forcing things when we do get set up. That’s an area we definitely have to improve in. Special teams are huge in the playoffs and we were on the wrong side of it here tonight,” said Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves on 42 shots for the Blue Jackets. Fleury finished with 41 saves for the Penguins. Both goaltenders made point-blank saves in the first overtime to preserve the tie before Calvert’s decider.http://
“He [Fleury] held us in there,” Crosby said. “It’s tough. You don’t want to leave him hanging to dry there, but we made some mistakes and they hurt us.”