When the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets locked horns on April 4,the prevailing feeling was the game would serve as a preview for a first round playoff series between the two teams.
Although, the scoreboard read 4-1 for the Penguins, the Blue Jackets dominated for durations of play. They had the Penguins pinned in the defensive zone for extended periods of time, putting 40 shots on Matt Murray.
The score was more reflective of a bad night for Sergei Bobrovsky, who has only allowed four or more goals only ten times this season.
We now know that their 2017 first round series is guaranteed, and both teams can begin drafting battle plans. The series is destined to be physically intense and entertaining.
When Pittsburgh and Columbus met in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, The Penguins were the heavy favourites. It was widely expected that the wild card Blue Jackets were going to be steam rolled by the Metropolitan Division Champions.
The Penguins had a lot to prove after being swept the previous season by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. They had further pressure to maximize the potential of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby who were entering the prime of their respected careers.
The final result of the series ended in Pittsburgh’s favor, with the Penguins winning the series four games to two. But with a twist of fate and a couple of lucky bounces, the Blue Jackets could have easily found themselves with a ticket punched to the second round and a visit to Madison Square Garden to meet the Rangers.
Here is a quick refresher of the Pittsburgh Penguins 2014 playoffs and their series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
History of a Series – Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 2014 Playoffs
Game 1 – April 16, 2014: “Special Teams” Penguins win 4-3
Jack Johnson scored the first Columbus playoff goal in five years at 6:20 of the first period, as the Blue Jackets work towards building a 3-1 lead.The Penguins managed to rattle off three unanswered goals, including Brandon Sutter‘s game winner at 8:18 of the third.
Special teams played a huge factor in the game as Columbus scored a power-play and a short-handed goal, and the Penguins notched two power-play markers.
Although Columbus lost, they proved that they would be able to roll with the Penguins and would be formidable opponents for the course of the series.
Game 2 – April 19, 2014: “Double OT” Blue Jackets Win 4-3
In a highly dramatic affair, it was Pittsburgh’s turn to build and surrender a 3-1 lead. Johnson scored the game-tying at 13:59 of the third period. Matt Calvert the scored the game-winning goal 1:10 into the second OT period, after Marc-Andre Fleury misplayed the puck.
Special teams again dominated the story line as the Penguins scored a power-play and a shorthanded goal. Columbus converted two on power plays, and also added their second shorthanded tally of the series.
Game 3 – April 21, 2014: “Never Surrender” Penguins Win 4-3
Another game, another 3-1 lead surrendered. This time the Penguins explode for three goals in a span of 2:53 in the third, with Jussi Jokinen’s goal at 8:03 standing as the game winner.
The Blue Jackets performed quite well, making the most of the chances they were given considering they managed to put 20 shots on Fleury.
Game 4 – April 23, 2014: “Extra Time” Blue Jackets Win 4-3
The Penguins scored three goals in the first 11 minutes of the first period by Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz and James Neal. But slowly watched the lead deteriorate, allowing Brandon Dubinsky to score the game-tying goal with 24 seconds left in the game.
The Blue Jackets carried the momentum into overtime, as Nick Foligno came up clutch for Columbus scoring the winner at 2:49 of the extra frame.
Game 5 – April 26, 2014: “Bad Blood” Penguins Win 3-1
Game 5 marked the lowest scoring game of the series, and the only game not to end in an 4-3 result.
Boone Jenner opened the scoring with a power-play marker at 12:55 of the first period.
Pittsburgh tied game up at 7:42 of the second period with a Kunitz PP goal.
Jokinen claimed his second game-winning goal of the series, early in third period. Kris Letang provided additional goal support, scoring an empty-net goal to secure the win for the Penguins.
The highlights of this game included another brilliant performance by Bobrovsky who faced 50 shots. The Pittsburgh defence limited the Columbus skaters to 24 shots.
Blood began to boil at the end of the game as tensions heated between Calvert and Letang. The two exchanged pleasantries in a typical playoff-hockey-like manner.
The stage was set for an epic Game 6 clash as the Penguins had a chance to put the Blue Jackets away. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets wanted to force Game 7.
Game 6 – April 28, 2014 “The Final Nail” Penguins Win 4-3
The Penguins carried what was believed to be an insurmountable 4-0 lead into the third period. Malkin had a hat-trick, and Sutter scored his third goal of the series.
However, Columbus wasn’t ready to peacefully go into the good night, burning for three goals in the latter half of the period, almost tying the game several times in the dying minutes.
Pittsburgh managed to protect the lead and with it drove the final nail into the coffin of the series and they Stanley Cup Playoffs hopes of the Blue Jacket.s
A harsh rivalry has risen from the ashes of that series, and each game between the teams seems to get a little edgier and rougher. It is safe to say that much has changed since 2014 for both the Penguins and theBlue Jackets. B the memory remains from a series that was much closer than the final result presented.
The Penguins will need to withstand the constant physical and offensive bombardment from a Blue Jackets team hell bent on revenge and fighting under a new general. Columbus will have to find a way to deal with the speed and finesse of a Pittsburgh team that has stared adversity in the face all season long and looking to defend its championship.