This one is so rich, so textured, with so many story lines - it almost transcends description. On the one hand, it encompassed a lot of the emotions that Blue Jackets fans have experienced since Day 1 -- hope, anticipation, disappointment . . . and ultimately despair. However, on this night, with this team, those same fans saw tenacity, drive . . . and vindication, the hallmarks of a new era in Blue Jackets hockey. That this all transpired in an eerie reprise of the numerology that governed the first three games of the series provides an almost metaphysical back story that simply defies reason. The core facts, of course, are these: Columbus beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4 - 3 in overtime, evening their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at 2 - 2, and bringing the first Stanley Cup Playoff win to Nationwide Arena. Just these bare facts would be enough to provide a great story line, but in this case it barely scratches the surface of the intricacies involved, and of the entirely improbable nature of this result. Hang on, this one is not for the weak. 5:01 In Purgatory Dan appropriately entitled his recap of Game 3 2:13 Of Pure Hell, because it was. If that was hell, then the span between the 6:09 and 11:10 marks of the first at least qualify as purgatory. However, I'm jumping ahead of myself. There were some ominous signs that all was not well even before the game began. When watching warmups, I noticed Nick Schultz on the ice, and thought that he was drawing in for Dalton Prout to gain some veteran presence on the blue line. Not a bad call, I thought . . .until I saw Prout. Scanning the blue sweaters, I found that Ryan Murray was absent. An undisclosed injury would keep him from the line-up, meaning the Blue Jackets were arguably missing the two defenders most proficient in their own zone -- Tyutin & Murray. Not precisely what the doctor ordered when facing a club like Pittsburgh, who would undoubtedly come out blazing after their third period comeback in Game 3. Adding insult to injury, the Blue Jackets came out flat -- a listless group that had no chemistry, timing or structure. Pittsburgh registered the first four shots of the game, all easily handled by Sergei Bobrovsky. The Blue Jackets responded with some credible shifts in the offensive zone, but squandered an equal number, and showed the nagging tendency toward nasty turnovers that tends to emerge when they are not moving their feet. They were a reaching, grabbing and sloppy hockey club. Sometimes, even sloppy squads get a break, and it seemed that the Blue Jackets got just such a gift when Jussi Jokinen went off for hooking against Boone Jenner. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and the Hockey Gods had other ideas. As Columbus sought to gain possession high in the offensive zone, James Wisniewski could not gain control of the puck. Brendan Sutter could, however, and he proceeded to lead an odd-man rush down the middle of the ice, with Craig Adams on his right wing. As Ryan Johansen and Wisniewski struggled to get back, Sutter dumped the puck over to Adams at the top of the right circle. Bobrovsky came out and squared up, but could not get set as Adams parked a perfect shot high far corner. 1 - 0 Penguins. To the crowd's credit, this resulted in only a slightly diminished level of enthusiasm, as they were apparently taking solace in the fact that the team scoring the first goal has lost every game in this series.
Blue Jackets Stun Penguins 4 -3 in OT
The Cannon | Apr 24