Jackets say they're giving Penguins too much room in front of net
Center Brandon Dubinsky insisted the Blue Jackets want to play a “working man's game.”
Which, said another way, means playing physical, doing all the right things and wearing down the Penguins.
Fellow forward Boone Jenner took it a step further and talked about the Blue Jackets' continued desire to own the front of the cage.
The Penguins' first two goals crushed those plans.
And the result, a 3-1 Penguins win Saturday at Consol Energy Center, forced the Blue Jackets into an elimination game Monday for Game 6 at Nationwide Arena.
Though goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was solid if not spectacular at times, the Blue Jackets couldn't stop Penguins forwards Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen from close range.
“More than we would have liked, more than ‘Bob' would have liked,” center Ryan Johansen said of how much time the Penguins were allowed in the goal crease.
“They did a better job of that tonight, creating some traffic.”
Defenseman Jack Johnson gave Kunitz enough space to tip a shot from center Sidney Crosby and backhand it into the net before applying a hit, allowing Kunitz to score at 7 minutes, 42 seconds of the second.
Jokinen charged the net, sniffing for a rebound, and was unmarked by defenseman Nikita Nikitin en route to his winning goal at 6:16 of the third period.
In the middle of the play, Nikitin turned his attention to Penguins center Brandon Sutter, who was cutting down the slot.
“I think we needed to be harder in front of our net,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said.
Another frustrating thing for Columbus was allowing a series-worst 51 shots.
In the four previous games, the Blue Jackets gave up an average of 35 shots on goal.
“It felt like 51 shots,” Richards said. “They were going to the net hard. Obviously, it was something they talked about, to make it hard on Bobrovsky.”
Though Jenner scored his third goal of the series on a power play midway through the first, Columbus wasn't happy with how much time it spent in the Penguins' zone.
Not enough of a forecheck. No offensive continuity. Both were common complaints batted around the Columbus locker room.
“We weren't getting any sustained pressure in their end,” said forward R.J. Umberger, a Plum native. “It was too much in and out. The ice was tilted.
“It never gave our defense a rest.”
Now Columbus returns home for an elimination game, something the franchise has faced only once before.
“I expect nothing other than what they've done all year,” Richards said. “And that's to respond coming off a game where you're disappointed.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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