Saturday, April 4, 2015

Playoffs are near and the number is five!

By: MF,

The regular season is coming to a close and the Pittsburgh Penguins only need five points to clinch a playoff berth. That means that every game counts and they need to get to work starting today. The Penguins are on the road and that starts with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets are out of the playoffs, but are all finally healthy and been on a roll as of late. Only one win shy of 20 road game wins for the Penguins, which would make it eighth consecutive times for them.

Offense is key, but the Penguins are missing half of the two-headed monster. Evgeni Malkin was a last minute scratch for Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. He commented saying, he wasn't ready for the game tonight, but maybe for Sunday's game in Philadelphia. That will put more weight on the shoulders of Sidney Crosby, who has 19 points (five goals and 14 assists) in 13 career contests against the Blue Jackets. In two of those games, he was held scoreless and the Penguins have a 10-0-1 record when he records a point. Crosby achieved a career milestone during last Wednesday's game, where he recorded his 300th career goal and is one of 18 active skaters with 300 career goals. He became the fifth player in franchise history to achieve this milestone and he is still looking to add to that total. However, Crosby won't be alone. He will be able to call on the other lines and get contributions from everyone on the ice. Guys like, Patric Hornqvist who has 14 points (nine goals and five assists) over his last 14 games. During that span, the team has gone 9-4-1. Another guy coming up big is Chris Kunitz, who recorded 200 hits in a season for just the second time in his career, the other time was in 2008-09 with 206 hits.

A game is not won with offense alone, but defense will be key. The Penguins have been playing with only five defenseman, which has put them on edge and tired the remaining guys out. Ben Lovejoy has skated for over 27 minutes in back-to-back games that accounts for two of his highest time-on-ice (TOI) totals in his career. Also, Ian Cole has stepped up his game and his having a career year. He has tied his previous season totals in goals (five), assists (eight), points (13) and hits (68). He is a +15, which is a +2 from last season and ties a career high set in the 2013-14 season. It's great to see a new addition, adding to the blueline prowess of the Penguins. The goaltenders have been called on even more lately, since the defense has gone down a man. Marc-Andre Fleury is 7-2-1 in his career when he faces the Blue Jackets and has never loss in regulation at Columbus.

Good news for all! The Penguins were finally able to call up a blueliner from Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. That man is Taylor Chorney! Now the Penguins can have a full lineup of players.

The Penguins have to come out with speed and get on the board early. Crashing the net and putting shots on the Blue Jackets' netminder is key! Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows:

Perron, Crosby, Hornqvist
Kunitz, Sutter, Comeau
Winnik, Spaling, Downie
Bennett, Lapierre, Adams

Martin, Lovejoy
Pouliot, Scuderi
Cole, Chorney

Fleury in the net!

Play By Play
Pens 3 Blue Jackets 5

3rd Period
0:00- Pens fall to the Blue Jackets 5-3. Huge question mark hangs over them. Hopefully, they come out with a fire tomorrow and get back on track.

0:56- Foligno Scores. Empty net goal. Hat trick for him. 5-3 Blue Jackets.

1:19- Empty net for the Pens!

1:26- Bennett with a chance on the backhand!

3:13- Hornqvist is pushed into the net/Bobrovsky. Foligno goes after Hornqvist. Disagreements all around. No calls.

4:42- Scuderi makes a nice play to keep the puck in the offensive zone.

5:21- The Pens power-play comes to an end and they are still down a goal.

7:30- Hornqvist is sucker punched by Johnson and get a power-play as a result.

7:51- Hornqvist fires a hard shot that is gloved up by Bobrovsky!

9:50- LOVEJOY SCORES! The Pens go crazy in the Blue Jackets' zone! Kunitz was everywhere battling! Lovejoy gets the puck and fires a rocket shot from the blue line! It blows past Bobrovsky! 4-3 Blue Jackets.

10:31- Blue Jackets Score. The Pens and Blue Jackets crash the net. The ref never blows the whistle and somehow the puck stays in play. It goes in. 4-3 Blue Jackets.

13:14- Foligno Scores. Pouliot turns over the puck and the Blue Jackets get two men on a rush alone. Fleury makes the first save, but Foligno is let wide open. 3-2 Blue Jackets take the lead.

14:44- The Pens kill it.

14:59- Fleury flashes the pad to make a huge save on Johnson's shot!

16:44- Downie back to the box, this time for holding. Horrible time for a penalty.

18:01- Pouliot is not playing well defensively today. Looks a bit loss and not his confident self, he has been in the last few games.

20:00- We are back for the third period! The Pens have to come up with a new fire and put the Blue Jackets back on their heels! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00- Second period comes to an end and this game is all tied up at two.

1:25- Calvert Scores. Calvert hits the post, gets the rebound and throws it on net. Unsure of what Scuderi and Pouliot were doing on that shift. 2-2 tie game.

3:35- Foligno Scores. Perron turns over the puck in the Pens zone. Two Blue Jackets get behind the defense alone in front. Foligno puts it in. 2-1 Pens.

3:45- Fleury makes three unreal pad saves, one after another.

5:13- Fleury comes up with a huge shoulder save after Scuderi turned over the puck in the center.

5:51- The Pens are getting more chances on net.

6:25- Crosby is flying all over the ice. Setting up plays and getting back to play defensively.

8:53- SUTTER SCORES! Downie goes to the blue paint and takes Johnson with him! Johnson ties up Bobrobsky! Sutter fires the puck on net, through traffic and it finds it way in! 2-0 Pens!

12:32- Tired group of guys on the ice for the Pens and the Blue Jackets get sustained pressure in the defensive zone. The Pens finally get the puck up ice.

14:26- The Pens are doing a good job of close checking the Blue Jackets.

17:40- Chroney carries the puck down the right side and shoots towards the toe off Bobrovsky. Smart play.

19:54- The Pens power-play is over.

20:00- Second period time! The Pens have a six second power-play to start! They need to keep up the hard work and pressure! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00- First period ends and the Pens lead 1-0!

0:38- Shots are 15-12 in favor in the Pens.

1:55- Late in this period, the Pens will get a power-play. Dubinsky to the sin bin for tripping.

2:32- Winnik has been playing a smart offensive/defensive game. Also, good at getting into shooting lanes on the penalty kill.

5:08- Another great penalty kill by the Pens. Martin was very aggressive in checking players off the puck. He did a great job of checking Dubinsky off the puck.

7:08- The Pens are called for too many men-on-the-ice. Blue Jackets power-play.

7:15- Pouliot snaps a pass up to a fast skating Crosby. Crosby and Comeau get a give and go going! Comeau gets the puck to Crosby who directs to towards the net. Bobrovsky with the pad save.

9:19- The Pens survive the Blue Jackets power-play.

9:40- The Blue Jackets dominate in the Pens zone on the power-play. Two defensemen sticks break, while blocking shots. Fleury coming up big. Shots 12-9 in favor of the Blue Jackets.

11:19- Downie will head to the box for goalie interference.

11:39- CROSBY SCORES! Cole pinches to win a puck battle on the boards and gets the puck to Hornqvist, at the side! He makes a little pass to Crosby in the slot and he doesn't miss! 1-0 Pens!

12:52- The Blue Jackets turn over the puck in their own zone. Adams backhand is directed to the corner by the pad of Bobrovsky.

13:48- Fleury has been working hard and looks sharp. He made a real nice save in close on Hartnell.

16:17- The Pens power-play comes to an end. Great offensive zone pressure for the Pens on that power-play.

16:30- Crosby fires a slapper that hits the goal post. What a shot!

18:17- Winnik drives down the center and is hooked up. Comeau tries to jam on the loose puck, bu Bobrovsky denies. The Pens will get a power-play chance as Connauton sits for hooking.

19:48- Fleury working early in his one.

20:00- The puck has dropped at Columbus! The Pens need to come out with speed and put the Blue Jackets on their heels! Lets Go Pens! 

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