The Columbus Blue Jackets look to rebound after letting a two-goal advantage evaporate in their Eastern Conference first-round series when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 2 tonight. Sportsbooks have the hometown Penguins as -174 moneyline favorites over the Blue Jackets (+160) with the total listed at 5.5 goals. The Blue Jackets have lost all five postseason games in franchise history. The series will shift to Columbus following tonight’s battle. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday at Nationwide Arena. Be sure to check the full list of NHL Playoff Odds for all games tonight.
The Blue Jackets (0-1, 0-1 V) Jack Johnson collected a goal and an assist for Columbus, while Derek MacKenzie and Mark Letestu tallied a goal apiece. Sergei Bobrovsky, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner, stopped 28 shots in the setback. “I have to be better. Four goals is a lot, but it’s already past me,” said Sergei Bobrovsky, who owns an 0-3 career mark in postseason play with a gaudy 4.04 goals-against average.
Pittsburgh native R.J. Umberger participated in practice Friday and is expected to return to action after being sidelined since April 6 with an upper-body injury. “I grew up going to these playoff games, this was my childhood, and earlier in my career, I got a chance to play in Mellon Arena,” Umberger said, referring to his time when rival Philadelphia paid a visit. “The atmosphere was great (in Game 1) and I’m anxious and really excited to get in there.”
LW Nick Foligno (lower body) originally was ruled out for Game 2, but coach Todd Richards said he “looked really good” in practice on Friday and left the door open a sliver for his inclusion in the lineup.
The Penguins (1-0, 1-0 H) defeated Columbus for the sixth time in as many meetings this season with a 4-3 triumph in Game 1 on Wednesday. Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen each notched a goal and an assist, while Jussi Jokinen also lit the lamp for the Metropolitan Division champion Penguins, who went 5-0-0 against Columbus during the regular season. Marc-Andre Fleury, who knows a thing or two about playoff meltdowns, came up big with 31 saves in Game 1. Evgeni Malkin didn’t show any rust from a three-week absence due to a foot injury, notching two assists on Wednesday.
Kris Letang struggled mightily in Game 1 as the defenseman’s turnover led to Derek MacKenzie’s short-handed goal while a retaliatory slash gave Columbus a power play. Coach Dan Bylsma was not pleased and limited Letang’s ice time accordingly (3:55 in the third period). “I think he got a message,” Bylsma said. “Whether it was a voice or not playing or a nice talk, he got a message. And that’s something he’s got to be better at and that’s something we’ve got to be better at as a group.”
Recent Betting Trends to Consider:
Over is 13-5 in the last 18 meetings.
Over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings in Pittsburgh.
Blue Jackets are 0-4 in the last 4 meetings in Pittsburgh.
Blue Jackets are 0-7 in the last 7 meetings.
Penguins are 1-6 in their last 7 Saturday games.
Blue Jackets are 6-0 in their last 6 Saturday games.
Columbus at Pittsburgh
When: Saturday April 19@7:00 PM ET
Pick: Penguins -174
The Bottom Line: the Jackets will get the split tonight. They’ve should’ve won last game. We recommend you sign up with Bovada to receive a 10% sign up bonus heading into the Columbus vs Pittsburgh matchup.