Jackets' Foligno called game-winning goal
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After Brandon Dubinsky scored the game-tying goal for Columbus seconds before the end of regulation, Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno had a prophecy.
Foligno, playing Wednesday in his second game since returning from an injury that cost him the first two games of the series, went before his teammates in the Columbus locker room predicting he would score the game-winner.
Sure enough, that is exactly what he did.
Just 2:49 into overtime, Foligno delivered the strike from the left faceoff circle sending Nationwide Arena into a frenzy. Foligno and the Blue Jackets brought the crowd its first home playoff win in franchise history.
The 4-3 Columbus win also marked the first home victory for the Blue Jackets over the Penguins in more than five years.
Linemate R.J. Umberger of Plum sat next to Foligno as he made the speech.
“He just told the group that I am going to score the overtime winner, I hope you guys don't mind,” Umberger said. “Sure enough he did.”
Umberger added the team encouraged him to fulfill his prediction.
Foligno said he had never thought about delivering a locker room speech the like one he did.
“I might have said it in passing, joking, but never actually happened,” Foligno said. “I know the magnitude of the game and I know how important it is. Just trying to get laughs and guys started chuckling. I was still partially serious but it got guys in a good mood.”
The idea behind the comment, he said, was to prevent his teammates from being nervous going into overtime. His squad responded by outshooting the Penguins, 5-1, in overtime.
After Foligno scored, it took him a second to realize what had happened.
“I actually had to look and hear the roar of the crowd,” Foligno said. “I think I did the most ridiculous celebration going to two knees.”
Foligno had been quiet in the playoffs leading up to his goal. He was pointless for the series and had yet to register a shot on goal Wednesday going into overtime.
He had missed the final six regular-season contests with what was listed as a lower-body injury. He had a solid season for Columbus scoring 18 goals and adding 21 assists.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was happy to have Foligno back in the lineup.
“He is big, he can skate, he has a physical edge that he can play with,” Richards said. “But Nick is one guy on our team that can break down a defensive zone.”
The goal was his second career postseason tally. His last came in 2012 as a member of the Ottawa Senators. He played in 14 postseason contests with Ottawa before joining the Blue Jackets in the summer of 2012.
Foligno said coming into the series that the two games he missed gave him a good perspective what was taking place on the ice.
“It is funny when you watch from up top, the open ice you see and how the systems work,” Foligno said. “So maybe that is a little bit of a head start.”