Penguins notebook: Bylsma pans Fleury's decision


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Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury erred when he tried to play a puck behind his net in the final minute of regulation in Game 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The puck bounced over Fleury's stick and went to Columbus center Ryan Johansen, who fed it to teammate Brandon Dubinsky for a goal that forced overtime in what became a 4-3 Blue Jackets victory Wednesday at Nationwide Arena.

"Given the time of the game, the puck gets rimmed in [along the glass], the play is to stay in the net and not go out and attempt to play the puck," Bylsma said Thursday. "Marc knows he should have stayed in the net."

Bylsma said there is a protocol for goalies when determining whether they should go behind the goal line to corral a puck.

"The rule of thumb is, if the puck's on the glass, you stay in the net," he said. "If the puck's on the [boards], you can get a truer read on the play."

Columbus coach Todd Richards said he never has instructed a goaltender to stay in his crease in the last minute of a game with a lead.

"It does come down to game management and understanding, but you can learn a lot by watching situations," Richards said.

Fleury and Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky have given up 14 goals each over the four games of this first-round playoff series. Richards seemed to indicate that Fleury's part in Columbus' tying goal in Game 4 was magnified because of his position.

"I think the goaltending has been what you expected it to be," he said. "You've got two very good goaltenders. It's not that they're perfect, either one. But they're no different than any other player out on the ice. They're going to make mistakes.

"Unfortunately, when goaltenders make mistakes, it's right there in front of you because usually the puck is going in the net. Usually, the goaltenders will be the ones who are bailing out a lot of the players on their mistakes, and maybe those mistakes aren't as front-and-center.

"You're able to forget those because the goalie makes the save. When the goalie makes a mistake, it ends up in the net."

Putting on the hits

The Blue Jackets are averaging 53.8 hits a game in the series. Forward Derek MacKenzie, who ranks second on the team with 23 hits, hopes that is wearing down the Penguins, even if that's not the primary objective.

"We're hoping this is a long series, and you would think that if you had 50-some hits a night at some point it would pay off a little bit," MacKenzie said.

"But more importantly, we're focused on playing our game, and that's been a part of our game all season."

Richards said that while a large number of hits is reflective of the Blue Jackets' aggressive forecheck, there can be a downside.

"When you commit yourself to win a race out of a hit, now we're chasing them back up the ice, so it could lead to odd-man opportunities going the other way," he said. "Another thing is it means the other team has the puck.

"The hits are good. It's a part of our identity to create some energy for our team, but there are also different ways to look at it."

Crosby lauds MacKinnon

While acknowledging the fine rookie season of teammate Olli Maatta, Penguins center Sidney Crosby has a pretty good feel for how well Nathan MacKinnon played, too.

MacKinnon, a center for Colorado, is widely considered the favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. Crosby not only saw MacKinnon when the Penguins and Avalanche played in October and April, but the two have a lot in common.

They are both from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, both were selected first overall in their draft class, and they have skated together in the offseason.

"Just from playing against him early on in the year to seeing him in the game we played against them late in the season, he's definitely improved as the year's gone on," Crosby said. "He feels a lot more comfortable, it looks like. I'm happy to see him do well. I know how hard he works."

MacKinnon played all 82 games for the Avalanche, getting 24 goals, 63 points. Going into Colorado's first-round game Thursday against Minnesota, MacKinnon was tied for the Avalanche's playoff-scoring lead with seven points.

Crosby has kept in touch with his younger hometowner.

"We've talked a little bit," Crosby said. "He's pretty excited being in the playoffs his first year."

Hurry back, please

Columbus staged its comeback win in Game 4 without two of its regular defensemen. Fedor Tyutin missed his second game in a row, and Ryan Murray didn't play after leaving the game-day skate early.

"We're hoping that Tyutin and Murray will be back in the series," Richards said.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.


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