Second-period short-handed goal gives Blue Jackets momentum
The double-overtime winner wasn't the only pivotal goal of Matt Calvert's night.
His second-period short-handed goal, likewise, wasn't the only momentum-changing part of the Columbus Blue Jackets' penalty kill.
Calvert's goal 7:31 into the second period was the highlight of the rapid-succession success of the Blue Jackets' play while down a man, and it was the turning point of a 4-3 victory that evened the best-of-seven first-round series at a game apiece.
“Short-handed goals are always big factors in a game, especially playoff games,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “(But) in addition to the short-handed goal, on the two other power plays we didn't capitalize on, and they gained a ton of momentum from that.”
Calvert's first career playoff goal began when Artem Anisimov beat James Neal to a loose puck above the Penguins' attacking left-wing circle and poked it ahead to Calvert. It was off to the races for Calvert, with only Matt Niskanen back for the Penguins, and Anisimov and Jack Johnson along with Calvert for a developing 3-on-1.
“I looked for the pass, and didn't quite see it,” Calvert said. “And then I saw (Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury) bite a bit, so I just tried to put it upstairs and it was great to see it go in the back of the net.”
Calvert's rising wrist shot beat Fleury high and to the glove side under the crossbar and inside the right post. The goal came when the Penguins had four forwards and only one defenseman on the ice, and it was far from the only chance Columbus mustered while short-handed. The Blue Jackets regularly produced odd-man, short-handed breaks — particularly during their three kills over a nine-minute span during the first half of the second period.
Calvert's shot was one of two taken by Columbus during that particular Penguins' power play; the Penguins had zero during it. That sequence began a stretch in which the Blue Jackets held a 10-2 shot advantage, despite two Penguins' power plays to none for Columbus.
“They're a good power play, (but) they take a lot of chances,” Calvert said. “And whenever we can if we pick off a pass, we try to take advantage of that.”
Regardless of the Calvert goal that turned the tide from a 3-1 Penguins lead, the Blue Jackets' second-period penalty kills flipped the momentum because the Penguins were impotent at one of their supposed strengths: the power play.
“The game could have changed if they make it 4-1 there on the power play,” Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky said. “But as it happens, we stick to our game plan and keep working and we find a way to get a shorty there and kill them off, and build some momentum.”
The Penguins took 16 of the game's first 20 shots on goal through the first period and a minute into the second. It was a penalty by Columbus' R.J. Umberger 2:14 into the second that ended up inadvertently helping turn the tide of the game in favor of the Blue Jackets.
“We let the momentum get away from us, and we never really recaptured it,” Penguins winger Lee Stempniak said.