A roller coaster of a game can be both entertaining and wholeheartedly frustrating. The spontaneous nature of the play can keep you on the edge of your seat while making sure that your eyes aren't going anywhere else.
In the case of tonight's game, the end of the roller coaster was wholly unsatisfying.
The Columbus Blue Jackets needed a fast start and boy, did they get one. Cam Atkinson scored only 11 seconds into the game to start the team out on the right foot. Ian Cole pinched poorly and left the ice wide open to make a play.
Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky would get assists on the play.
The lead wouldn't last long as the Penguins would respond with an odd-angled shot from Jake Guentzel to make it a 1-1 game. Sidney Crosby and Ron Hainsey would get the helpers.
It felt like this may be the same old Blue Jackets giving in to the Penguins, but this first period would be nothing like any prior Blue Jackets' period this series. The goals would be coming in bunches.
Atkinson gave Columbus the lead once again when he stole the puck from Sidney Crosby and slid it past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it a 2-1 game.
The goal would be unassisted.
The Blue Jackets were also able to solve their power play woes as well in the game when shortly after they went on the man advantage, Zach Werenski put a point shot past Fleury to make it a 3-1 game just 6:10 in. The goal was the first of his postseason career.
Sam Gagner and Foligno earned assists on the play.
As great as the first period was for the Blue Jackets, on the other side of the spectrum, the second period would be hellacious.
The Penguins scored, two goals and both were surrounded by controversy.
One goal was scored by Bryan Rust and the other by Malkin. Rust's first goal of the period was scored just shortly after Seth Jones was pulled down by Phil Kessel, with Rust deflecting a pass by Sergei Bobrovsky. Malkin's goal happened moments after Werenski took a puck to the face that saw him laying bloodied on the ice. Many different interpretations of the rule were floated around, with the official ruling stating that until the afflicted team has possession, play cannot be stopped.
Not only were the two goals in the period deflating, but the lack of Werenski changed the complexion of the game. A tie going into the third was anything but reassuring.
As the third period started and the uncertainty of the past two periods began to sink in, it was anyone's to win in the final frame.
The "feeling out" period that is normally reserved for the beginning of games ended up taking place during the first ten minutes of the third period. Both sides didn't want to make a mistake. A Penguins power play that occurred thanks to a Dubinsky cross-checking penalty would change the tenor of the game and Guentzel would get his second goal of the game on a Malkin feed to make it 4-3 with 8:12 on the clock.
The hometown Blue Jackets were put on their heels, but Dubinsky ended up going from goat to hero in short order, thanks to a lucky rebound. Jack Johnson threw a weak shot on Fleury and Dubinsky collected the rebound to put it over the opposing goalie's shoulder to make it 4-4 with 4:49 to go.
The closing moments of the game were tense and as the seconds began to wane, overtime beckoned. It only made the high-stakes feel even greater.
Columbus did get a chance to win the game early in OT, but somehow Fleury was able to stop it with his head. A literal game-changing stop that flipped the game on it's head.
Hockey is a cruel game and it would show just how cruel it was when Guentzel scored the game-winning goal off of a Crosby pass from behind the net at the 13:10 mark. The goal finished a hat trick for Guentzel.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 42 of 47 shots to give him another sub-.900 save percentage outing. Fleury stopped 33 of 37 in his worst game of the series by far and still came out with the win.
However unlikely it may seem, reverse sweeps have happened before; unfortunately the odds are heavily stacked against the team trying to accomplish it. It isn't an insurmountable series lead being held by the Penguins but it sure feels that way.
Dubinsky put it simply in his post-game scrum: "We have no other choice other than to push back."
If they don't this could be the end of the team's great ride.
How about some more home ice hockey? The series stays in Columbus for Game 4 Tuesday. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m., with FSO and CNBC televising the affair.
Considering how Game 3 was, Nationwide Arena should be bumping once again.