Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 3, 2OT
Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a win over the host Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.
Game 3 is Monday in Columbus.
Jack Johnson tied the game with 6:01 left in regulation for the Blue Jackets. Ryan Johansen also scored the first playoff goal of his career for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky overcame a shaky start to finish with 39 saves.
Brian Gibbons scored twice and Matt Niskanen added his second goal of the playoffs but Pittsburgh was outplayed for much of the final three-plus periods. Fleury made 41 stops but was helpless on the game-winner.
The Penguins have dropped four straight home overtime playoff games and blew a chance to take a 2-0 series lead when they failed to bury the Blue Jackets early on.
Instead, Columbus weathered an opening storm and recovered to collect the team’s first playoff victory since the expansion team made its debut on Oct. 7, 2000 — 4,493 days ago.
The Blue Jackets were the better team for long stretches and kept Pittsburgh’s high-powered special teams in check. The Penguins went just 1 for 8 on the power play.
Both teams traded quality chances in the first overtime period. Bobrovsky made an excellent blocker save on Sidney Crosby racing down the right wing. Fleury stuffed R.J. Umberger from point-blank range earlier in the period.
There was no back-and-forth in the second extra session. Brandon Dubinsky started the winning play by jabbing the puck at Fleury and Pittsburgh’s defense offered little resistance until the puck was on Calvert’s stick for the winner.
The Penguins knew they couldn’t afford a repeat of the first 21 minutes of Game 1, when the Blue Jackets knocked them around while streaking to a two-goal lead. Though Pittsburgh rallied to escape, the Penguins knew they were fortunate against a team making just its second playoff appearance in franchise history.
This time, Pittsburgh’s start wasn’t the problem. It was everything else.
Gibbons scored the first two playoff goals of his career 54 seconds apart — including a nifty short-handed breakaway in which he undressed Bobrovsky — to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead before the game was 5 minutes old. The giddiness didn’t last long, for the Penguins or Gibbons.
Blues 4, Blackhawks 3, OT
Vladimir Tarasenko and host St. Louis were in trouble before a vicious hit by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook provided an opening for the Blues.
That little crack was all St. Louis needed to put another dent in the Blackhawks’ bid for a second straight Stanley Cup title.
Seabrook’s blow to the head of David Backes led to a 6-on-4 power play for St. Louis that ended with Tarasenko’s tying goal with 6.4 seconds left in regulation, and low-scoring defenseman Barret Jackman ended the game with a drive through traffic, giving the Blues their second straight overtime victory over the Blackhawks and a 2-0 series lead.
St. Louis took the opener in triple-overtime and fought off a Chicago rally in a game that began less than 39 hours later. Game 3 is Monday night in Chicago.
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford tossed his equipment around in the locker room before meeting with reporters. He said he was screened a bit on the game-winner, adding, “I had my pads together, but there was a little space there and it just kind of squeezed through.”
Jackman is the longest-tenured Blues player in a career dating to 2002, and totaled three goals and 15 points in the regular season. He has two career playoff goals, both in overtime and both giving the Blues a 2-0 series lead, also stunning the Kings in the first round in 2012 — although the Kings recovered to take four straight.
St. Louis rallied after Seabrook received a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for his hit on Backes that could lead to a suspension for one of Chicago’s top defensemen. The Blues captain had to be helped off the ice, went straight to the locker room and did not return for the extra period.
Instead of retaliating, the Blues stuck up for Backes by sticking to the game plan.
Tarasenko’s second goal of the series was a wrist shot that banged off the right post and in. Shattenkirk had a goal and two assists for the Blues, who also got a goal from Chris Porter.