April 19, 2017, 10:41 AM ET [9 Comments]
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Final Score: Blue Jackets 5 – Penguins 4
They finally did it, after all these years, the Blue Jackets have finally won their first playoff game in regulation. By doing that they were able to save off elimination and live to fight another day. The Jackets played extremely well again, they dominated the game right from the get go as they did in the first two games. They came out and put up a 63.16% Corsi in the first period and finished the game at 54.72% at 5 on 5. In this game however, they were able to get some puck luck which resulted in a couple early goals.
These are the kind of fluke goals you can get when you dominate the shot the clock. By firing everything towards the net, eventually something should find its way through and that Jack Johnson shot did. These were the types of goals the Jackets weren’t getting earlier, but they are the types of goals a team needs if they are to pull off the impossible.
The Jackets third line was extremely impressive. Matt Calvert was back and he made an impact alongside William Karlsson and Josh Anderson. John Tortorella wanted to give the Penguins some different looks and he had that third line up against the Crosby line. Against all odds it worked, as they held Crosby to no shots and was one the ice for three goals against, including these Anderson and Karlsson goals.
The Jackets also had a new look defensive group. The two newcomers Kyle Quincey and Markus Nutivaara, both made an immediate impact. Quincey brought energy to the game with his physical play. He was laying some huge hits, which really got the crowd into the game. Nutivaara did his best work quietly as he was tremendous, as he's been all season, at busting up plays at the blue line. It didn’t matter who was coming at him, whether it be a Crosby or Malkin or a Matt Cullen, he stopped so many plays before they got even got started. He was active in the rush, and brought the fans to their feet scoring the Blue Jackets third goal.
He was making strong offensive plays all night and showed why he should have been in this series over Scott Harrington this entire time. He brings that extra speed dynamic and offensive ability. He finished the game with the highest Corsi on the team at an insane 78.57% Corsi at 5 on 5, by far leading the team. Nutivaara was paired with Gabriel Carlsson and that pair worked really well. Nutivaara was able to take chances which allowed Carlsson to play a role he was more comfortable in sitting back in a more defensive role. Carlsson was able to have his best game of the playoffs putting up a 63.33% Corsi, good for third on the team.
On top of that goal Nutivaara also picked up an assist on what ended up being the game winning goal.
Getting the win was huge obviously but this was far from a perfect game. The Jackets once again had a big lead but let the Penguins right back into it. They need to be much tighter defensively and when they get a lead they need to keep the foot on the gas; no lead is safe against the Penguins.
What would go a long way to helping the Jackets hold a lead would be Sergei Bobrovsky. He again wasn’t at his best allowing four goals on 31 shots for an .871 save percentage. He did not steal this game by any means but despite the poor numbers did make a couple huge saves to protect the lead.
That is a vintage Bobrovsky save right there, shutting the door on Ron Hainsey. If the Jackets are to comeback they need Bobrovsky to steal them a game, it wasn’t this one, but with saves like that you can sense that big game might be coming.
Game 5 goes Thursday in Pittsburgh.