Penguins take 3-0 series lead behind their biggest strength
GAME 3 STORYLINE
The Columbus Blue Jackets scored 10 seconds into game…….. scored 3 goals on their first six shots……..and finally solved Marc Andre Fleury who was giving up juicy rebounds all night.
Yet, what played out again in Game 3 was the Penguins superior high-end talent winning out.
The Penguins and Blue Jackets were close in regular season points and Columbus finished with the fourth most points in the NHL. But, the discrepancy in high-end talent between the Penguins and Blue Jackets is just on another level and that’s even with the Penguins missing Kris Letang and their No. 1 goaltender.
It’s the story of the series and why Pittsburgh has a 3-0 series lead.
A lot of headlines Monday morning will be talking about the Penguins resilency, their leadership and so on…… It’s talent and having the right coach in place.
As great of a start the Blue Jackets got in Game 3 and as shaky as Marc Andre Fleury looked in the first period and although Fleury stopped 30 of the final 31 shots he faced, he was not good in this one with his rebound control/angles, Pittsburgh when even trailing was having their best game of the series in driving play and tilting the ice in their favor.
The Penguins started finding that other level in the second period where they outshot Columbus 19-8, out-attempted the Blue Jackets 36-17 and out-scored Columbus 2-0 in the period on goals from Brian Rust and Evgeni Malkin.
The Penguins Stanley Cup run in 16 was because of their depth. What makes the Penguins scarier upfront to matchup against now is this season the Penguins top-2 lines are much more dangerous in the talent and skill playing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Jake Guentzel starred tonight with the OT winner and hat trick, and the Penguins top line is just so skilled, fast, it’s so difficult to defend them in all areas of the offensive zone. You try to be physical with them, they’re slippery fast in the corners with Sheary and Guentzel, and as seen on the overtime goal, they wear you down with possession below the dots. David Savard could barely move in trying to contain Sidney Crosby behind the net on Guentzel’s OT winner.
“They are quick, they are elusive, and they are brave,” Mike Sullivan said of the Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary line.
And, as expected, we’re seeing better linemates around Evgeni Malkin elevate his offensive game.
Bryan Rust is a better offensive player than a year ago and having high-end skill around Malkin in Phil Kessel can never hurt. Malkin’s dedication so far to playing a 200 ft game has alleviate those defensive concerns in playing Malkin and Kessel together.
Assuming the Penguins close out the Blue Jackets, you look at what Carl Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"