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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 23rd (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (1-2), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to move one win away from advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets for Wednesday's Game 4 at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, hope to put a Game 3 collapse behind them and secure the first home playoff win in franchise history as they attempt to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
The first three games of this set between Metropolitan Division combatants have shown us two-goal leads in this series aren't safe. So far, the loser of each game in this series held a two-goal cushion at one point but couldn't hold it.
On Monday, Columbus scored twice in the first four minutes of regulation, but Pittsburgh tallied four of the game's last five goals to take the road contest, 4-3.
The Blue Jackets opened the scoring with Boone Jenner's goal at 1:38 of the first and Jack Johnson scored 1:40 later to stake Columbus to a 2-0 lead. The score remained that way until Brooks Orpik beat Sergei Bobrovsky with two seconds left in the second period.
Columbus restored its two-goal lead just 1:04 into the third stanza when Cam Atkinson hit the net to make it a 3-1 game, but it was all Pittsburgh from there. Brandon Sutter, Lee Stempniak and Olli Maatta scored on three straight shots in a 2:13 span to give the Penguins all the offense they would need to grab a 2-1 edge in the series.
"We just stayed with it," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who had an assist but remains without a goal in the series. "We knew there was a lot of hockey left. I thought we out-played them, at least in the second and third period."
Pittsburgh's game-deciding barrage began when Brandon Sutter deflected Paul Martin's shot from the high right side at 5:53 of the third. Lee Stempniak scored on a deft pass from Chris Kunitz behind a trailing defenseman at the 7:03 mark to tie it up and Jussi Jokinen scored 63 seconds later to give the Pens the 4-3 lead.
"We got caught playing their game, a little bit of the run-and-gun," said Columbus forward Nick Foligno. "Their transition is so quick and that's what kind of caught us a couple of times. It was just a lucky bounce with that fourth one, but that's playoff hockey."
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced but stopped 16 of the last 17. Fleury's teammates had opportunities to give him a bigger cushion, but Pittsburgh failed to score on six chances with the man advantage.
The visitors also outshot Columbus 41-20 in the contest and that includes a 16-7 advantage in the first period when the Blue Jackets grabbed the 2-0 lead.
Bobrovsky had stopped all 25 Penguins shots until Orpik's goal in the waning seconds of the middle stanza. He finished with 37 saves.
The Blue Jackets fell to 0-3 in playoff games at Nationwide Arena. They were playing on the five-year anniversary of their first home playoff game, a 4-1 loss to Detroit in Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference quarterfinals. The Red Wings also won Game 4 that year at Nationwide Arena to sweep the Blue Jackets.
Columbus is 0-4 against at home against the division champion Penguins since the start of 2013-14, but the club hopes to reverse that trend tonight and finally earn a home postseason win.
"I don't think Game 4 can come fast enough," said Johnson.
Pittsburgh finished 16 points ahead of fourth-place Columbus in the Metropolitan and also went 5-0-0 against the Blue Jackets during the 2013-14 season series.
The Blue Jackets were 22-15-4 as the host this season, but Pittsburgh was a solid 23-15-3 on the road.
This series will head back to Pittsburgh for Game 5, which is scheduled for Saturday.
Fedor Tyutin missed Monday's game due to an upper-body injury. He did skate in Tuesday's optional practice and expects to sit out a second straight game tonight.
04/23 10:28:39 ET
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