Through the first two games of their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets have tried to play their physical brand of hockey.
So far it is not working.
The Penguins were 4-1 winners on Friday night to take a 2-0 series lead as the series shifts to Columbus on Sunday.
For as strong as Fleury was, the difference in this game was the Penguins’ top line of Sidney Crosby, Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel. The Blue Jackets had no answer for that trio at any point on Friday and seemed to be bleeding chances against every time they were on the ice. Crosby himself accounted for three points in the win, scoring the game’s first goal off of a Sergei Bobrovsky turnover and then setting up the Penguins’ next two goals.
His first assist came on a two-on-one rush to set up Guentzel just 50 seconds after Columbus had tied the game at one on a Brandon Saad goal.
He helped put the game away early in the third period when he set up an Evgeni Malkin goal.
That goal came after a penalty to Brandon Dubinsky had expired. Dubinsky was penalized for roughing at the end of the second period during, giving the Penguins a power play to open the third period. Things got heated again late in the third period when Columbus’ Matt Calvert cross-checked Tom Kuhnhackl so hard it broke his stick. He could be facing supplementary discipline heading into Game 3.
This game continued Columbus’ recent struggles offensively, and was the 9th time in the past 15 games they have failed to score more than two goals in a game.