"This is a learning experience. It's a good team -- you get a 3-1 lead in their building, get a power-play goal, a short-handed goal, that's got to give you some momentum. But [we] took two penalties and they capitalized. Again, that's a team that's won. They know what it takes. We'll probably learn from that," said Letestu, who scored the Blue Jackets' second goal, a man-advantage marker with 2:02 left in the first.
It is a fine line this Blue Jackets team walks now.
Their inexperience is what it is. They must work diligently to keep it from becoming a defining element in how this series is decided, or more to the point, they must guard against letting their lack of experience become a fallback position in explaining why things went wrong.
Coach Todd Richards acknowledged before Wednesday's game that there was an element of the unknown confronting his squad.
"I think there was a lot of anticipation of what's going to happen and what's the game going to be like, what's the atmosphere, what's the crowd, playing against a very good team, and sometimes that anticipation can be draining," Richards said.
"I'm hoping that we got our feet wet now, we know what to expect, we know what the environment's going to be like."
But Richards was quick to try to quash the notion that the Blue Jackets are merely here to take notes for a test that will be administered in the future.
"It is learning. But we're here to win. And that's the big thing. The learning is through the process, but we aren't here just to go to school. Our guys are competitive. I know that they believe. So we're here to win. The learning comes through the experiences, and that's what I take away from it. There's disappointment in losing, because we all come in here expecting win and it didn't happen," Richards said.
The Blue Jackets departed Pittsburgh for the short trip back home after Wednesday's game and will work out in Columbus before returning for Game 2 on Saturday night.
There is much to be pleased about.
They took their first lead in a playoff game.
They outhit the Penguins 48-27.
But unless those elements can be built upon to come up with a way to be at least one goal better than Pittsburgh on Saturday, they will have little meaning.
"I don't think that they surprised us at all, so I'm not sure if we learned anything other than what we know already, which is they got a good team and they're going to make you pay for taking penalties and having turnovers," Dubinsky said.
"I thought our compete level was good. We've got to continue to build on it. The games are just going to get harder, they're going to get tougher, and we just got to be prepared for it. Like I said all year, I like our group, I like our character, our resilience. I know our guys will be prepared and ready on Saturday."