So, Columbus, I’m afraid that, like a hit from any player on your roster, what I’m about to say is coming far too late, and it’s intended for your head.
You never had a chance. Never, ever did. Despite a last-gasp rally in Game 4 that save some dignity, victory was never really within reach.
You got that elusive first playoff win in regulation and dropped confetti all over Nationwide Arena. Almost exactly the same way politicians and everyone else in America chooses to forget about Ohio until they need something from it, the Pens forgot about Game 4. You got that one. And the Pens fan who got beat up after Game 4 deserved it so you guys can have that one, too.
But still, at the end of it all, Columbus is a forgettable third-place finisher in the Metro division. A first-round loser in the postseason. A team with nothing to look forward to besides Sac Werenski’s face getting itself back together and another season of Torts dressing players who are better at punching people in the back of the head than putting goals in the back of the net. At least you have a clever intern running your Twitter account.
The Jackets came into this series wanting to hit any Penguin that moved, and cost them. They wore down in Games 1 and 2, and by the time they figured out a strategy that worked, their Vezina-winning goaltender shit all over the bed.
So look. It’s the playoffs and it’s always good to move on as quickly as possible, especially against a joke team like the Jackets. The Pens weren’t perfect, but they didn’t need to be. The sketchy defense and bad starts could be a problem down the road. The goaltending probably won’t be as solid, no matter who the Pens go with in Round 2. But at the end of the day, the Pens were just too much for Columbus. It played out exactly the way it should have, and the Pens are advancing to the next round.
For the fifth straight game, the Pens came out flatter than your sister. The Jackets controlled the early going, outshooting the Pens 8-1 at one point. Unlike the other games, this surge didn’t last long and before you knew it both teams were trading chances back and forth. The period actually ended with both teams at 21 shot attempts apiece.
The big difference was the Pens got on the board first in this one. Phil Kessel is a damn good player.
Phil Kessel is a damn good player. Playoff Phil can shoot a hot dog through a brick wall.
Just look at this stat line… What a player.
A couple of huge saves by Fleury and Nick Bonino right before the horn got the Pens into the locker room up 1-0.
Playoff Phil is elite but can’t forget about Bryan Rust transforming into a monster when April rolls around, either. Rust struck paydirt twice in the first four minutes to put the Pens up 3-0.
On the first one, Rust makes a nice play on a redirect in front. Bob slipped on a banana peel and the Pens were up 2-0.
His second goal was a straight hustle play — Rust puts a wrist shot on goal that Bob was able to make a good save on. Seth Jones catches a bad break when the puck hits his skate and ricochets right to Rust, who followed his shot to the hoop.
Worth noting that — despite this play — Jones has proven he is a damn good defenseman. He and Werenski will be a handful but it probably sucks the Jackets don’t have any other defensemen worth playing.
The Pens were up 3-0, and for the first time — possibly ever — I’ll give the Jackets some credit. They showed some sac and battled back into it.
Will Karlsson got them on the board when a backhader bounced over Fleury’s pad. Bad clear by Hainsey on the play but otherwise a well-earned goal. They got the game back within one a few minutes later, while on the power play, when Boone Jenner batted a rebound out of mid-air and behind Fleury.
The shortest review ever confirmed it was good and butt cheeks were officially clenched. The Pens just hung on and was able to get out up by one, which was a huge sequence in the game.
The Pens had a whole seven even shot attempts in the third period. It was all Jackets, but Columbus couldn’t help being Columbus. Alex Weinerberg crashed into Fleury on the doorstep, and the ensuing power play opportunity proved to be the back-breaker. It was right here when everyone knew the series was about to be over. The stage was set, all it needed was the lead of the show…
What a fuckjng snipe. Just, nice — really nothing else you can say. It’s a speechless feeling, kinda like how guys feel the first time they see a boob.
Scott Wilson put the icing on top with a wild, no-look backhand trick shot, putting the Pens up 5-2.
Caps or Leafs up next. We’ve got a week to get ready — buckle up.