The Columbus Blue Jackets deserve a lot of credit for battling back from a 3-1 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins to earn their franchise’s first playoff win. That being said, did Pittsburgh’s overconfidence and desire to add to an already comfortable lead contribute to the team’s downfall?
That was the verdict of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Joe Starkey. Or as he put it:
They never learn.
Every time the Penguins start to feel good about themselves, it seems they want to feel better. Good isn’t good enough. They are hockey’s great narcissists — hopelessly addicted to their own wondrous skill.
One example of what Starkey is referring to was Pittsburgh’s decision to put out four forwards during a Columbus penalty midway through the second period. The Blue Jackets scored nine shorthanded goals in the regular season and had already added another to that list in Game 1 of this series.
So even down a man, the Blue Jackets are a threat to score, and they did, narrowing the Penguins’ lead to just one goal:
“The shorthanded goal for us was, I thought, the difference maker in the game,” Blue Jackets coach Todd RIchards told the Columbus Dispatch’ Aaron Portzline. “It gave hope to our guys.”
It was also the byproduct of “sheer Penguins arrogance,” according to Starkey.
Columbus went on to earn a 4-3 double-overtime victory. Pittsburgh has now allowed at least three goals in 15 of its last 23 playoff contests, dating back to 2012.
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.
John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.
Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.
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 upJohn 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.
Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd
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.