Penguins outlast Blue Jackets, take Game 1

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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.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.