Despite carrying play for most of Game 5, the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to grind things out against the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 3-1 win, grabbing a 3-2 series lead in the process.
Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Blue Jackets in the game even as his team was regularly facing a barrage of Penguins shots.
Through two periods, Pittsburgh generated a 36-17 shot advantage and that didn’t slow down in the third period. Jussi Jokinen eventually broke free to give the Pens a 2-1 lead.
The breathless coverage might bury Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – Penguins fans even went as far as to boo Crosby when Pittsburgh was down by a goal – yet both created chances. Crosby was particularly active in firing six shots on goal and getting an assist. Even so, Dan Bylsma experimented a bit with Malkin and Crosby together at even-strength, which is still a fairly rare sight.
(Seriously, that duo rarely skates together when they aren’t on the power play.)
Overall, the Penguins fired a ridiculous 50 shots on Bobrovsky (plus an empty-net goal) compared to the Blue Jackets’ 24. Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t face the busiest of nights, yet he must be relieved to get the win and only allowed one goal. (He also received an ovation from the fans in Pittsburgh).
Columbus actually generated a 1-0 lead in this game, so if you’re really sticking to a “no lead is safe” narrative, you can hang your hat on that.
The bigger story might be that the Penguins persevered but the Blue Jackets seem determined to make this a fight. The series shifts back to Columbus for Game 6 on Monday.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: