Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 3 (2OT): Calvert caps rally

Jackets come back from 3-1 deficit to earn first playoff win in franchise history

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Calvert scored a second-period short-handed goal that shifted momentum last night, but it was his goal early in the second overtime that ended a historic evening for the Blue Jackets at the Consol Energy Center.

Calvert was swarmed by teammates after scoring off his own rebound at 1:10 of the second overtime, giving the Blue Jackets a come-from-behind 4-3 victory, the first playoff win in franchise history.

“It’s unbelievable,” Calvert said. “I think every year of my life I’ve watched the NHL playoffs, and you always dream about being the hero in overtime.

“It’s real special for our organization tonight, and we battled for it. It didn’t come easy. We were down a couple goals (two) different times. The penalty kill was great when it had to be, and it’s just a great feeling right now.”

The best-of-seven series heads to Nationwide Arena for Game 3 on Monday night with the series tied at a game apiece..

“It’s a great feeling for us,” center Ryan Johansen said. “For our fans, it’s been 14 years and they haven’t seen a playoff victory. To be able to go back to Columbus now tied 1-1 with the momentum we have, it’s a great feeling.”

Through the first 20 minutes, no one would have predicted such a finish. The Penguins led 3-1 and had a 15-4 edge in shots, and there were times when the Blue Jackets looked to be on the ropes.

“At that point,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said, “they were playing at a different level than us.”

But at 7:31 of the second, with Blue Jackets wing Blake Comeau in the penalty box for roughing, Calvert led a charge of penalty killers into the Penguins’ end, and he scored off a wrist shot that went over the glove of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Blue Jackets, almost blown out of the arena in the first period, trailed only 3-2.

“The short-handed goal for us, I thought, was the difference-maker in the game,” Richards said. “It gave hope to our guys. You could feel it on the bench. From that moment on, I thought we played a very strong game.”

The Blue Jackets, who blew a 3-1 lead in Game 1 on Wednesday night, tied the score last night with 6:01 left in regulation.

Defenseman Jack Johnson came through the right side of the offensive zone alone and scored off a pass from Johansen.

“I don’t think anybody saw me over there,” said Johnson, who also scored in Game 1. “I just tried to shoot as hard as I could.”

The Blue Jackets were able to sustain a forecheck and put pressure on the Penguins the rest of the way, and the teams played on even footing through the first overtime.

On the second shift of the second overtime, Brandon Dubinsky carried the puck behind the net and passed to Cam Atkinson for a slap shot from 10 feet. The rebound kicked to Calvert, whose first shot was stopped by Fleury’s right pad.

His second found the back of the net.

“To get a split here and go back home and be able to take control of the series and go up 2-1 is a huge opportunity,” Calvert said. “We’re excited about it. We’re going to relish the opportunity.”

aportzline@dispatch.com

@Aportzline

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