COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- R.J. Umberger, one of the few Columbus Blue
Jackets with playoff experience, thinks he knows what the Pittsburgh
Penguins are thinking as they go for a knockout in Game 6 on Monday
"Oh, there's no doubt they don't want to go to Game 7," Umberger said
Sunday, a day after the Penguins grabbed a 3-2 lead in the first-round
Stanley Cup series. "Before we even started, they were probably looking
who they were going to play next anyway."
The Penguins, nursing a M.A.S.H. unit of injuries all season, could
use an extra day or two to rest before Round 2. Star defenseman Brooks
Orpik didn't play on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh is brimming with confidence coming off a 3-1 victory at
home on Saturday night in which it played with more swagger, more
physicality and more aggression than in the previous four games
"We had a great game last night and we're going into a loud building
in Columbus with a chance to close out the series," Penguins forward
James Neal said. "It's going to be the toughest game -- it always is --
the fourth (win)."
As for the Blue Jackets, what else is new? They'll be desperate.
They have faced playoff-like games for more than a month, battling
just to make the postseason when the odds were against them, and now
battling just to stay alive.
"When your backs are against the wall it's the ultimate do or die,"
defenseman James Wisniewski said. "We've probably used that term a lot
during the season, but it really applies now. It's either that or go
home (for the offseason)."
In taking Game 5, the Penguins locked down Columbus' attack and
denied the Blue Jackets any kind of flow with the puck. On top of that,
for the first time in the series they were on relatively even terms in
hits (a 37-34 Columbus advantage) and won 25 of 35 faceoffs in the final
"They were trying to establish their forecheck, but on our end, our
forecheck was much better," said Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen.
"They didn't have energy in the offensive zone or on the forecheck
because of what we were doing."
Yes, the Penguins would love to take the loud and raucous crowd out
of play early. Yes, they'd also love to get home and enjoy some R&R
instead of playing in a pressure-packed Game 7 two days later in
Pittsburgh against a team that has been a handful for them.
They also know it won't be easy to get rid of the Blue Jackets.
"We fully expect a huge response from their team," coach Dan Bylsma
said. "They are going to give us their best. We have to match and exceed
Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Blue Jackets in Game 5 by stopping 48 of 50
shots. Meanwhile, his counterpart in gold and black, Marc-Andre Fleury,
faced only 24 shots.
The Blue Jackets are angry that the Penguins repeatedly made contact
with or crowded last year's Vezina Trophy winner. That's something they
vowed will not happen again.
"We definitely need to be more physical and make them pay the price,"
said center Brandon Dubinsky. "They got away with a couple on Sergei."
Columbus, which has trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in the series, must adapt if it wants to survive.
"We've dealt with adversity all year," coach Todd Richards said.
"We've had games where maybe we haven't played our best, or maybe the
other team has just outplayed us, and we've responded the next game. I'm
looking at this as a rebound game."
The Blue Jackets have already collected the first playoff win in
franchise history (Game 2) and the first home playoff win in the team's
13 seasons. Even though they face elimination, they say the pressure's
still on the Penguins.
"It's always been on Pittsburgh," defenseman Jack Johnson said.
"They're the ones the so-called experts said were supposed to win the
series. I guarantee they don't want to go back there for a Game 7."
Meanwhile, the Penguins just try to keep doing what they did Saturday night.
"We played our best game of the series and this is the way we need to play Monday, too," said forward Jussi Jokinen.