Pens' outburst covers lack of power


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- This is a slightly blurry picture.

This is a piece of fine china with a hairline crack in its side.

This is a Lamborghini with a key mark down the side panel.

This is the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Three games into what should have been the best possible first-round matchup for them, the Penguins hold a 2-1 series lead.

Darned if we can explain exactly how it's happened.

Two nights after blowing a 3-1 lead to give the Blue Jackets their first postseason victory in franchise history, the Penguins nearly handed Columbus its first home playoff victory.

Pittsburgh allowed two Columbus goals in the first 3:18 of the game thanks in large part to sloppy rebound control by netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.

They cut the Blue Jackets lead to 2-1 by scoring with less than two seconds left in the second on a wonderful effort by defenseman Brooks Orpik. Then, the Penguins gave the Blue Jackets back a two-goal lead 1:04 into the third period when Cam Atkinson had a Brandon Dubinsky shot carom off his body and behind Fleury for a 3-1 lead.

The Pens' vaunted power play continues to make a mockery of the words "power" and "play," as they went 0-for-6 on the night and are 1-for-14 over the past two games.

Three games into this series, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang have combined for zero goals.

And still, during a frenzied, brilliant 2:13 span in the third period, the Pittsburgh Penguins flexed and it was enough to carry the day.

In that small space of time, the Penguins scored on three consecutive shots to turn what would have been an ugly loss to explain and a one-game series hole to consider going into Wednesday's Game 4 into what could be a devastating loss for an inexperienced Blue Jackets team that has now blown 3-1 leads in both of its losses in the series.

In fact, the losing team in all three games has blown a 3-1 lead.

Go figure.

"You don't want a 3-1 lead in this series, I guess," offered Jussi Jokinen, who scored the winner by deflecting home an Olli Maatta shot from the point after a Columbus turnover in its own zone with 11:54 left in regulation.

"If you watch any teams [in] the playoffs: If you get the lead in the third it's not easy, you get a little bit more defensive and the team who's chasing is putting pucks to the net and getting that momentum; it's not easy [to] play [with] a lead in third period in the playoffs."

It was Jokinen's second goal of the playoffs, and he noted that one of the key factors in Game 3 was the fact that while the power play didn't register a goal, it didn't give up a shorthanded goal.

This is the sound of a reporter's hand slapping his forehead.

You know this is a wacky series when one of the keys to winning is not giving up a shorthanded goal even though during the regular season the Penguins gave up only six in an 82-game span.

"I think even though our power play didn't score, we got tons of momentum. We had great chances and what's been killing us first two games, the shorthanded goals. They didn't get any chances shorthanded, so that was big, and I think our PK had a great, best game of the series," Jokinen added.

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