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Penguins Dump Columbus in OT, Grab 3-0 Series Lead – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Dump Columbus in OT, Grab 3-0 Series Lead

I confess. If I was constructing a hockey team from scratch, I’d probably lean toward the “bigger is better” approach. Much like Columbus, the Penguins’ hated first-round playoff foe.

However, I’m quickly gaining an appreciation for the opposite side of the coin. Good things, do indeed, come in small packages.

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The Pens’ Jake Guentzel, for example. Generously listed at 5’11” and 180 pounds, at times the tousle-haired forward resembles a boy skating among men. Although Jake may be dwarfed by opposing redwoods, he plays like a giant.

Such was the case during yesterday’s scintillating 5-4 overtime victory over Columbus before a passionate throng at Nationwide Arena. A heart-pounder of a game that featured more plot twists than a classic suspense thriller.

In a big-time postseason performance unmatched by any I can recall from a Pens rookie other than Matt Murray, Guentzel notched his first NHL hat trick, including the game-winner at 13:10 of overtime.

If Murray has ice water running in his veins, Guentzel must have antifreeze for blood. Call him “Cool Hand Jake.” Or perhaps “Jake the Snake” for the way he slithers through the tiniest of openings, coiled and ready to strike.

Unfazed on a big stage, the kid set the tone for the Pens’ dramatic Game 3 triumph. Three minutes after Cam Atkinson struck virtually from the opening faceoff, Guentzel stole the Blue Jackets’ thunder by firing the puck home from a sharp angle. Quieting the capacity crowd and lifting his team off the deck

Although Columbus would victimize Marc-Andre Fleury twice more in a matter of minutes to snatch a 3-1 lead, Jake’s marker served notice of the comeback to come.

Having survived the rocky first period, the Pens began to reel their rivals in. While Fleury settled down between the pipes, the second line chipped in at the 5:21 mark with the first of their two second-period goals. Evgeni Malkin dug the puck off the boards and slipped a pass to Brian Dumoulin at center point. “Dumo” flicked a perfectly placed shot/pass onto the blade of Bryan Rust, who gained inside position on Brandon Dubinsky. Rust steered the puck home.

“Rusty” emerged front and center on the Pens’ next tally, too. Setting up shop to the left of the Columbus net, No. 17 watched as Malkin’s cross-crease setup was picked off by Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad. Rust alertly swatted Saad’s stick blade, propelling the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky and knotting the score at 3-3.

Midway through the final period, Guentzel re-surfaced in a big way. Planted to the left of the Jackets’ net on a power play, courtesy of a cross-checking call to Dubinsky, Jake picked up a carom off the end boards and swept the puck in off Bobrovsky’s right leg from below the goal line. A Crosby-esque move if I ever saw one.

Unfortunately, Dubinsky atoned for his penalty with 4:49 remaining. Exploiting a gap between Guentzel and Carter Rowney, the abrasive Blue Jacket drove to the net and whipped a rebound past Fleury.

Our nemesis nearly earned the laurels seven minutes into overtime when he snatched up a juicy rebound and fired the puck toward a wide-open net. But Fleury, flashing his wondrous reflexes, slid across the crease at the last second to stop Dubinsky’s rising shot with his noggin.

Cue the kid. While linemates Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary applied pressure behind the Columbus net, Guentzel waited patiently in the slot. After keeping the cycle alive with some extraordinary work, Sid slipped a pretty backhand pass off the end boards. Jake made no mistake, one-timing the puck through Bobrovsky’s six-hole for the game winner.

“(Guentzel) made a great play to pop out and get away from his check and find an opening,” Sid said. “It squeezed in there between the posts.”

As the dejected Jackets skulked off the ice, Jake dropped to a knee and shook his fist. Then he glided to the sideboards, where he was mobbed by joyous teammates.

To borrow from the old ABC classic, Wide World of Sports, truly the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Puckpourri

The Penguins outshot Columbus, 47-37, and won 55 percent of the faceoffs. Hits were virtually even, with the Blue Jackets enjoying a slight edge (33-31).

Malkin’s goal was his 50th in postseason play. “Geno” tallied three points (1+2) and finished a plus-2. Crosby collected two assists. Patric Hornqvist paced the black and gold with five shots on goal, tying Dubinsky and fellow Jackets forward Nick Foligno for the game high.

Fleury stopped 33 shots, including a point-blank pad save on Dubinsky midway through the first period. Bobrovsky made 42 saves in a losing effort, many of the highlight-reel variety.

Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski was injured moments before the Pens’ third goal when he was struck in the face with the puck. He returned for the third period wearing a cage mask, but did not play in overtime.

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12 Comments

  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 18, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick
    The morning after.
    It appears now that the Wild,Hawks,Flames and Bluejackets are in trouble. All are down 3 games to nill.
    The Capitals and the Sharks are being challenged for sure. McDavid and crew and the Toronto gang of 8 are not making it easy for the establishment. Could be an upset in one of these 2 series.
    The Montreal/Ranger series is simply to close to call.If Price holds up against King Henrik they could win…
    The Ottawa /Boston series…That is a real close one.
    We talk about Toronto and Edmonton and the play of their kids, but Boston with Brad Marchand and their kids have really surprised fans.They are playing solid hockey. Ottawa as well.
    So as I posted before with league parity a reality, a lot of upsets are possible.Washington ? A week ago I would said your crazy. Now…I am not so sure…
    It is a great time to be an NHL Hockey fan.
    Cheers☺

  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 17, 2017 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Hey Guys
    We are going to overtime in TORONTO. 3rd time.
    9 periods of regulation time and 2 and half periods of OT. These teams are close.
    Washington had a 2 goal lead and was all over TO in the first period. Then in the third the Leafs took over. Caps took 3 penalties in the 3rd period.Could not keep up to the young legs.
    The Leafs have a 90 second power play to start the OT.
    So win or lose in the OT….Toronto is in the Caps heads.
    Let’s go ….. ( sorry Dad, still can not say it.)
    Talk to u soon.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      April 17, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Holy…..
      Toronto just scored on the PP.
      ☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺
      Caps now are rattled.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      April 18, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      I didn’t stay up to see the whole game but wow man, part of me is loving it and part of me is getting a little more worried. Rick and I were talking about this yesterday and we were in agreement, we love to see Toronto get their due but but a Pens – Leaf series may be a little tougher than a Pens – Caps series (Although let’s not get to far ahead of ourselves, although statistically the probability is that the Pens advance but until that fat lady sings let’s remember CBJ put up one of the top 5 records this year).

      The Pens are in the Caps head but the Leafs are a Wild Card with nothing to lose. They are kids gaining a big time swagger and that swagger could carry them pretty far.

      But to another point, looking at the rest of the games last night just seems to reinforce something you wrote a while back, their does seem to be a changing of the guard, not just in terms of who the dominant players are but in terms of teams too. Not only is Tor finding themselves up 2-1 in games but Nsh is up 3-0, Ott is up 2 -1, and Edm is up 2 – 1 at the expense of some teams that have had their way for quite a run.

      And from a revenue stand point the league has to be in love with the number of OT games.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        April 18, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Hey Coach
        Right u r…
        Case in point. It was announced yesterday that a record for a single 50/50 draw was set in the opening game last week in Edmonton. Over 500k for the winner.
        ( ALBERTA is like your Texas. Lots of Oil millionaires. )
        Revenues are up all over in the play off markets.
        That is good for the league and for us as well.More league revenue the higher the salary cap for 2018.
        Having Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton, New York, Pen’s, Boston,Chicago and the California teams all playing in the play offs is great for the gate.
        TV and smartphone ratings are off the charts here in Canada. I am sure the same is true in America.
        Good for all.
        Plus I do not fear a Toronto/Pens match up. We would win in 5 games easily.Toronto is just happy to be in the play offs.This is a learning curve for them.
        I remember back when Sid and Geno first came into the league and we lost to Detroit in the playoffs. The great coach Scotty Bowman said at the time that ” all championship teams have to learn how to lose in the big game before they can become true champions.”
        Very wise words…That is Toronto now. They have to lose…..But look out next year…
        Cheers,

  3. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 17, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Hey Guys and Gals…
    Here is a question for you…Last game several of you suggested we add some muscle in d man Tom Sestito to protect our stars. At that time I was one of those who opposed the idea…. Now that we are up 3-0 and CBJ has less than a 5 % statistical chance of winning this series, I think NOW is the time you add the muscle for tomorrows game. CBJ has nothing to lose but to show it’s fans how tough they are and try to do some damage to our star players. Especially after what happened in the accidental puck injury to their star rookie d man.
    I would probably add another big forward from WBS as well for added insurance… Hope I am wrong about this, but tomorrow i believe will be more like game 1 and all the cheap stuff.

    What do you think of this idea?

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      April 17, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      I must confess, I do think CBJ may try something stupid tomorrow night. As I said on the other post, I think Sestito is more than just a big dog and can do more than be a deterent to idiot hockey, so I am comfortable with him playing, if the Pens would use him at least on a platoon basis giving him more than 2 or 3 shifts per game. Sestito has some ability. He is not a Guentzel, but he is not an oaf either.

      However, I really hate dressing a player just to be a big dog sitting on the porch. It can be teleological in nature, it sets up a self fulfilling prophecy. All players will view even the slightest infraction as a major catastrophe and escalate something to a mountain in a heartbeat. And that is why I wish the Pens had played Sestito a lot more during the season. Playing him now, as a safety precaution would be less likely to cause people to over-react.

      So to answer you question, I am not sure yet what I would do. This game is the game CBJ is most likely to perform criminal acts and no one with any moral fiber (Pens fan or not) wants to see players injured. So, I am arguing back and forth with myself now.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      April 17, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      The thought occurred to me, too. Say we’re up, 4-2, in the third period. I can picture Dubinsky taking a shot at Crosby. Heck, he slew-footed Sid in the closing seconds of regulation yesterday.

      I guess in the interest of (hopefully) gaining a sweep and getting the heck out of Dodge, I’ll switch to the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” camp for now…and hold my breath that nobody gets hurt.

      Rick

  4. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,
    As posted earlier, Jake G. and Bryan R. are indeed great contributors to our team. I too would like to see more size on our team but so far it has not been that “BIG” of a problem for our Pen’s. We keep winning. 🙂
    I just came back from lunch where several of the fans were talking hockey.
    This is a point I want you to consider Rick as it was mentioned today by several non-Pen’s fans. The greatness of Sidney Crosby !!
    These very knowledgeable hockey fans raised a very good point,ala Gretzky.
    Chris K., Patric H., Connor S.,Ryan Malone,Jake G. These players would be not even above average players on any other team in the league except playing with Crosby of the Penguins! He makes them stars. It is not what they did right, but the genius of Crosby to be able to determine each players strength and to actually make them much better players. Gretzky did the same.
    ( Remember Jari Kurri and Esa Tikanen ). With out # 99 they would not even been remembered in the league.The same with Sidney. One of my closest friends said today, and I could not win the argument , if # 87 was playing for CBJ yesterday, you would have lost and Jake G. does not get 3 goals.
    So goes Crosby so goes the Pen’s he said. So these non Pens fans were really complimenting the Penguins for being up 3 to 0 but silently complaining that they all wished Crosby was on their teams.
    So as the only close follower of the Penguins in the restaurant today I found myself foolishly arguing that Conner, Jake, Bryan and even my beloved Chris K. were real stars and Crosby, as good as he is, is not a one man show !
    But we both know that he really is Rick. He is almost 30 years old and playing his best hockey of his career….that is NOT supposed to happen .
    He is one of a kind.

    Lets go Pens.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      April 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      Crosby is phenominal, but he is hardly a one man show. Lemieux did the same thing as you are talking about; he made Warren Young and Doug Sheddan thing they were NHL players and he bouyed Terry Ruskowski’s career back up, buying him a couple of extra season and he Mario could be a one man show. However, offensively, this year, the Pens offense is team driven. They have a host of good to great players. Let’s not forget Center 1B Evgeni Malkin. and let’s also not forget that when Guentzel and Sheary were injured Croby went into a slump. Crosby may be playing his best hockey because of the Sheary and Guentzel. That line seems to be very synergistic.

      I too loved Kunitz. Crosby no doubt raised Kunitz’s play. Maybe Kunitz doesn’t get named to an All Star team without Crosby, but he certainly would still have had many great seasons without Crosby.

      And again, let’s face it, with Malkin also on the team all these years, no team can thow all their best checkers on 1 line. Everytime they do, if the shut down Sid, Geno burns and when they shut down Geno Sid burns them.

      One last point about Guentzel, he was named to the AHL all rookie team even though he only played half a season in the AHL. Crosby wasn’t down there.

      Sounds to me like there are people out there with total Penguin envy, at least offensively (can’t imagine anyone envying the Pens defense).

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      April 17, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      Totally agree that Sid has matured into a magnificent all-around hockey player. I was amazed by his work behind the net on the Pens’ overtime goal. He outworked, outhustled and outfoxed two large and capable Jackets d-men–Jack Johnson and David Savard–for a good 7-10 seconds before finding Guentzel with a perfect backhand pass.

      He truly is the total package. I don’t think anyone else in today’s game comes close to matching him.

      Having said that, I do think your friends are selling the other guys short. In my opinion, Hornqvist, Kunitz, Malone…and now Guentzel and Sheary are good to excellent hockey players.

      Kunitz was already a two-time 20+ goal man when the Pens acquired him back in ’09. Malone, who I loved, hit the 20-goal mark three times for the Lightning after leaving the ‘Burgh. And Hornqvist is a perennial 20-goal guy, with a 30-goal season thrown in.

      I’m particularly impressed with Guentzel (Phil, you were right). Man, does this kid have game. And he’s not even playing his natural position (center).

      I agree with Other Rick’s assessment. I think Guentzel and Sheary have helped revive Sid to an extent. Not that he isn’t a great player on his own. But I think the kids have energized him. And, perhaps for the first time in his career, No. 87 has a set of wingers who think the game the way he does and can read and react to him, at a high rate of speed to boot.

      The sky’s the limit for those guys.

      Rick

  5. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    April 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    There is precious little time to celebrate. Game 4 is tomorrow night but how sweet it is. Guentzel won’t get the Calder but what a rookie he is. Youth must be served.


            

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