Same lineup for the Penguins in Game 3 tonight as Game 2. Columbus only subs in Sonny Milano for the suspended Matt Calvert.
11 seconds in Columbus strikes. A bit of bad luck when Ian Cole's pass clanks the ref's skate and CBJ pushes ahead. Marc-Andre Fleury stops the initial Brandon Dubinsky shot but leaves a juicy rebound right in front of the net for Cam Atkinson to smash into the net. 1-0 home team before you can blink your eyes.
CamSANITY pic.twitter.com/eL3fKryjfs— ColumbusBlueJackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 16, 2017
The Pens fire back, Sidney Crosby wins an offensive zone faceoff and Ron Hainsey shoots wide, but the rebound off the back-boards comes to Jake Guentzel and the youngster quickly flips the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky to tie the game at 1.
Guentzel skates wide and puts it in on Bobrovsky. Assists go to Hainsey and Crosby. pic.twitter.com/6LyNC1bISa— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 16, 2017
Pittsburgh makes a mistake though to hand the lead right back, Conor Sheary makes an ill-advised little bump pass in the d-zone right through the middle of the ice that is off the mark. Crosby lunges to try and fling the puck to safety, but fails. And who else but Atkinson is right there to jump on it and skate in alone, beating Fleury with a backhand to make it 2-1 just 5:02 into the game.
Cam Atkinson gets his second goal of the first period pic.twitter.com/rs2EZvw6AF— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 16, 2017
More bad news ahead, Matt Cullen takes an offensive zone slashing penalty for some unknown reason why he felt that was necessary, and Columbus quickly makes Pittsburgh pay with rookie phenom Zach Werenski netting his first playoff goal (literally) with a top-shelf stop that sticks under the bar.
Zach Werenski’s first career playoff goal. What a shot (also got stuck above the in-goal camera) pic.twitter.com/OInl0gCPKs— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 16, 2017
Extra credit for Fleury trying to conceal the location of the puck for like 2 seconds before he remembered there's about a million cameras that will show it anyways so he just gives the rouse up.
Fleury tries to hide the puck from the refs pic.twitter.com/Oqccbf35cP— Flintor (@TheFlintor) April 16, 2017
Thankfully the game settles down and the period ends but the Pens can't draw any closer. 3-1 Columbus after 1, shots 14-11 CBJ,
After getting shell-shocked, the Pens use the intermission to regroup and come out much better in the 2nd periods (much like many of the earlier games of this series too, with a bad 1st and good 2nd). They get on the board when Brian Dumoulin makes a great play in the offensive zone after sustained pressure to deliver a beautiful shot/pass for Bryan Rust to tip into the net. The hole is down to 3-2.
In Rust we trust (especially in the playoffs).— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 16, 2017
That's six goals in Bryan Rust’s last 11 playoff games. pic.twitter.com/nsbWDO4RSu
The Pens tie it with Geno and his large adult roommate and their son (doesn't have quite the same ring as Sid and the Kids) when Rust+Malkin+Kessel team up for their second goal of the period. Columbus catches a bad bounce when a Kessel shot ramps up and hits Werenski lays on the ice hurt. Awful, but play continues and Malkin plays on, finding Rust with a pass right in front for a goal.
Werenski's shield didn't do him any favors, he caught the puck just under the eye. Hopefully it's better than it looks, because it looks really bad.
As what's becoming the norm this series, Pittsburgh dominated the 2nd after a terrible first, wins shots 19-8 in the period (and 30-22 overall at this point) also wins goal in the period 2-0 to tie the score at 3 for the game
Werenski comes back like a hero with a fishbowl on...but would have to leave later after (I'm assuming) that eye closes up completely on him. At least hopefully that means no huge damage for anything broken.
Werenski is back in the game after taking a puck to the face. The brutal aftermath: pic.twitter.com/pAU1YMAQg0— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 17, 2017
Brandon Dubinsky acts a fool and cross-checks Jake Guentzel for no reason. So of course Guentzel scores on the power play on an almost identical 2nd goal of the game to his 1st goal of the game when the puck bounces off the back board and he collects it and shoots it in the net before Bobrovsky can respond. 4-3 Pens.
How good has this kid been in the playoffs so far? Unreal. pic.twitter.com/mQtY0vzDcj— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 17, 2017
The lead doesn't last, Fleury kicks out a rebound (similar to the first goal of the game) and who else but Dubinsky is there to redeem himself and shuffle the puck in the net to tie it at 4 with 4:49 left.
everyone's fav pic.twitter.com/gwpje8z5GS— ColumbusBlueJackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 17, 2017
Dubinsky gets one more in before the end of regulation like the turd he is.
Dubinsky slew-foot on Crosby at the end of regulation. Shocking pic.twitter.com/Fq99r1r0JR— Dan Hopper (@DanHoppSports) April 17, 2017
Shots 40-30 Pittsburgh after regulation. Goals tied at 4 so we'll need more for a winner.
Columbus a little better early, Dubinsky takes a shot with basically a full net but Fleury slides over to get his head in the way and keep it out. Game continues.
Fleury saves the game pic.twitter.com/yi4vKcwzbY— Evgeni Malkin's Ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) April 17, 2017
The Pens keep keepin on, and much like a playoff goal back in 2010, Crosby goes to work behind the net, spinning the defender (this time David Savard) around like a top then making a beautiful centering pass to Jake Guentzel. Jake n Bake makes no mistakes and buries his hat trick and more importantly ends this game.
- Amidst all the goals to open the game, almost lost in the shuffle is Nick Bonino catching a Scott Harrington point-shot with his head and quickly going to the locker-room. That sure didn't look good but luckily after a brief absence he would be able to return.
- 3 goals against in the first 6 minutes of the game pretty much tells the story of the game early. Can't do that this time of year- too many turnovers, the most veteran player taking a bad penalty, just a perfect storm of yuck. Luckily, even on the road in a tough environment the Pens were able to hold on, stabilize and be a lot better in the 3rd period.
- 15 shot attempts on the night for Phil Kessel. Only 4 on net - and the most consequential of all ended up being blocked by Werenski's face, but great to see playoff Phil throwing so much rubber on the net.
- Some cracks in the armor with bad rebounds for Fleury, but he's seeing a lot of rubber too. And by hook or crook he made a game saving, um, save in OT on a desperation play after leaving a juicy rebound so for tonight at least all is well that ends well.
- 2 assists for Sid on the night, 3 for Geno, the big dogs are creating so much.
- And despite assists you need finishers; Rust has 2 goals on the night (and a ton in the playoffs dating back to G6 vs Tampa) and Guentzel with 3 on the night? Good gracious finally some young wingers with hands.
- Amazingly, courtesy our @MikeDarnay, this was the 27th playoff OT game of the Crosby/Malkin era for the Pens. Entering tonight it was 13-13, so they've broken the (temporary) rubber match and pull ahead for the time being. Perhaps even more amazingly, all 27 games have been ended by a different scorer every single time.
Game 4 coming Tuesday night in Columbus again. Pittsburgh will be looking to break out the brooms but CBJ surely won't be ready to lay down and die, the Pens will probably need their best complete game of the series to have a chance to finish this out early and then get to have the boost of a rest before next round.