Close, but no cigar for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Seeking the first-ever playoff win in franchise history, Columbus seemed to have the Pittsburgh Penguins on the ropes in Game 1 with a 3-1 lead, but Pittsburgh fought its way back with three unanswered goals to win 4-3, taking a 1-0 series lead in the process.
Even in defeat, the Blue Jackets still made a little franchise history while also showing that they can compete with the established East power. Jack Johnson’s 1-0 goal gave Columbus its first lead in a playoff game in franchise history.
So there’s that.
Overall, the Blue Jackets made a pretty convincing argument that they might make the Penguins sweat in this series, managing a 34-32 shot advantage while establishing a physical presence and a relentless, heavy forecheck.
Brandon Sutter factored into some of the game’s most memorable moments, missing out on a penalty (or even penalty shot) but getting back at the Blue Jackets by scoring the game-winning goal:
Pittsburgh also got eight combined points from Paul Martin, Matt Niskanen, Evgeni Malkin and rookie Beau Bennett, who assisted on Sutter’s game-winner. For Columbus, Jack Johnson led the way with a goal and assist, while Derek MacKenzie and Mark Letestu scored the other goals.
In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury got the better of Sergei Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina winner, by stopping 31 of 34 shots — Bobrovsky wasn’t a brick wall by any stretch on Wednesday night, finishing with a .875 save percentage after allowing four goals on 32 shots.
Looking ahead, the Blue Jackets get a few days to gather themselves as Game 2 takes place on Saturday. Despite the strides they made tonight, the moral victories will start to fade if they cannot gain their first-ever playoff win soon.