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Breaking down how Ian Cole’s awareness helped create Jake Guentzel’s game-winning goal

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Jake Guentzel gave the Pens a 2-1 lead in the second period, and we’re going to take a look at how it came to be.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Two Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s midway through the 2nd period of Game 2 between the Penguins and the Blue Jackets. Brandon Saad had just tied the game at 1-1 and Columbus looking for a chance to hit the Penguins while they were down and take their first lead of the series. Ian Cole, Sidney Crosby, and Jake Guentzel had other ideas. A Columbus rush was turned the other way, and just like that, 51 seconds after the Blue Jackets had tied the game, the Penguins had their lead back.

Let’s take a look at that again, huh?

As the Blue Jackets crashed into the offensive zone, Ian Cole found himself with the puck, and his back to the play.

Not only does he clear the zone well, but his clearing also is a fantastic outlet pass right on the tape of Sidney Crosby. Great awareness from Cole to sense the man-advantage ahead and sense both Crosby and Guentzel ready to fly up the ice.

From their own blue line, Crosby and Guentzel had the 2-on-1 set, and it’s never a good thing for a defender when Sidney Crosby has that much time to think about making a play.

As they cross the attacking blue line, Guentzel starts to swing out a little wider as Crosby has the puck in both a passing and shooting position.

With enough distance from the defender to not have to worry about the pass being broken up, Crosby moves it over to Guentzel. I start yelling “WHAT ARE YOU DOING PASSING IT???”

Before I can finish yelling, Guentzel immediately rifles the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky with the shot of a lifetime.

Flashing back to the initial breakout, here was the moment when Cole found himself with the puck. Look at all that ice ahead.

What a shot, Jake. He had one spot to put it in, and Bobrovsky was just a tad bit out of the net to challenge Crosby and if Guentzel had waited at all, the shooting angle probably would have changed on him big time.

What a fun breakout, shot, and goal. And a big one at that. The Penguins would hold the 2-1 lead for the rest of the 2nd period before extending it to a 3-1 lead early in the 3rd period.

With that, the Penguins held court at PPG Paints Arena and head to Columbus with a 2-0 series lead, where they’ll look to put Columbus on the ropes tomorrow evening.