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Blue Jackets vs. Penguins: Metropolitan Division heavyweights face off in Game 1

Two of the NHL’s best have come to play in the first round.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Penguins and Blue Jackets played in the postseason back in 2014, Columbus was just happy to be in the dance for the second time in franchise history. Now? The Blue Jackets have something to prove as they’ve been one of the NHL’s best teams all season.

Standing in their way, however, is the reigning Stanley Cup champions. It’s a shame someone has to go home here.

What we learned in the season series

Over the four games played between the Penguins and Blue Jackets in the regular season, two went to overtime and two were decided in regulation. Both sides took home wins in regulation and overtime, so it’s been a pretty even series all year. The Penguins did put past four straight goals on Sergei Bobrovsky in their last meeting, so keep that in mind as the potential Vezina winner takes the net on Wednesday.

Key player

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Murray. You might not remember it, but last year the Penguins came into the playoffs with a goaltending injury problem that caused Jeff Zatkoff to take the reins in Game 1. With Murray and Fleury healthy, though, the Penguins are going back to their winning formula that brought them a Stanley Cup last season.

Keep an eye on how Murray fares in this series now that he’s the unequivocal starter.

What will decide Wednesday night's game?

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Just how many liberties will the referees allow Brandon Dubinsky to take on Sidney Crosby? These two have quite the history together. Even with the skill both these teams possess, the dirty areas will likely be where this game is won.

Who takes home Game 1?

The Penguins will be back in their barn to start another playoff. Edge to Pittsburgh for the home crowd.