It doesn’t get much uglier that this. The high-flying Penguins scored three goals in the first 18 minutes and not another for the next 63.
They blew two two-goal leads -- on home ice -- and lost, 4-3, in double-overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night.
It was the oldest story in hockey: Outworked. Badly outworked.
The Penguins seemed content to rest on the 3-1 lead they built in the first period. The Blue Jackets were not content to go quietly into the night. They became the aggressor, they became the better team.
And don’t blame this one on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. This one falls on his teammates.
The loss puts a whole new spin on this first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, which shifts to Columbus for the next two games Monday and Wednesday. The home-ice advantage the Penguins earned in the 82-game regular season is gone in a comparative blink. This is now a best-of-five series and if it goes all the way the Blue Jackets have three home games.
The winning goal, 1:10 into the second overtime, typified the Penguins effort over the final three periods.
Cam Atkinson shot from point-blank range at Fleury who made a right-pad save. The puck was directed to Matt Calvert, whose shot again was deflected by Fleury’s right pad. The rebound went back to Calvert who then flipped the puck over Fleury for the game-winner.
It was Calvert who turned the game around in the second period with a short-handed goal that cut the Penguins' lead to one. Jack Johnson scored at 13:59 of the third period on a power play to tie the game and eventually send it to overtime.
Brian Gibbons scored the first two Penguins goals in the first five minutes of the game. The first game off a deflection off a Matt Niskanen shot and the second on a short-handed goal. After the Blue Jackets scored, Niskanen put the Penguins up, 3-1, before the end of the period.
The Penguins thoroughly dominated the first period, outshooting the Blue Jackets, 15-4. But after that, particularly after the Blue Jackets short-handed goal, the momentum shifted to Columbus.
The Penguins' once-lethal power play was part of their undoing. They were 1-for-8 on power plays. The Blue Jackets were 2-for-6. The Penguins had two power play chances in overtime but could not convert.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, ''Clearly, special teams is the difference in this game. Us not being able to capitalize on our power play in the second period is a huge factor.’’