Columbus goalie Bobrovsky fades late after starting strong vs. Penguins

| Monday, April 21, 2014, 11:18 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was in control for the first 39 minutes, 58 seconds Monday in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the Penguins.

Against one of the most prolific offenses in the NHL, Bobrovsky once again looked like the top goaltender in the league.

But the Penguins' offense came to life.

After having leads of 2-0 and 3-1, Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy (top goalie) winner, allowed the final three goals as the Penguins won 4-3.

Bobrovsky made 37 saves on 41 shots.

Despite the four goals, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he thought his goaltender played well.

“He was the reason why we were still in it until the end,” Richards said. “It was unfortunate.”

The winning goal came off a shot from defenseman Olli Maatta that was deflected by forward Jussi Jokinen.

It was destined to miss the net by 4 feet but ricocheted off Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski's skate and into the net.

“I didn't know (it would go in),” Bobrovsky said. “It is tough to predict.”

It was an unfortunate break for a goaltender who has helped carry the Blue Jackets to their second playoff appearance.

Forward Ryan Johansen said the Penguins had “puck luck” on their game-winner.

“It kind of squeezed by him, and I don't know what it hit, but it went in,” Johansen said. “That is playoff hockey, greasy goals, getting to the net and creating some havoc, and they had some lucky bounces.”

Bobrovsky went 32-20-5 in the regular season with a 2.38 goals-against average.

This is Bobrovsky's third appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

He most recently was in the playoffs in 2012 as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers when he allowed five goals on just 18 shots against in one game.

The season before, he made six appearances but only had two decisions for the Flyers. Both appearances led to losses.

The Penguins shelled Bobrovsky in the third period Monday as the Penguins outshot Columbus, 13-1, to start the period.

Bobrovsky energized the sold-out crowd for the first two periods.

The Russian goaltender described the scene as “awesome.”

“They were great. They stepped up,” Bobrovsky said. “I am just trying to enjoy this time. It is a great atmosphere, and I try to take it in as much as I can.”

Bobrovsky made his first 25 stops before allowing Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik to fire a shot through his five-hole with two seconds left in the second period.

Justin Boggs is a freelance writer.

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