Tortorella: Werenski has 'balls as big as the building'
Leave it to John Tortorella to perfectly sum up Zach Werenski's gutsy effort Sunday night.
"(He has) balls as big as the building, doesn't he?" the Columbus Blue Jackets head coach quipped postgame. "It doesn't surprise me with him."
Werenski didn't play in overtime - during which Jake Guentzel capped off a hat trick to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 5-4 win and a 3-0 series lead - but the Blue Jackets blue-liner did return early in the third period after taking a shot to the face that left him bleeding profusely late in the second.
He came back sporting a full visor and plenty of stitches, but Tortorella confirmed Werenski's vision was too impaired by the swelling before overtime began.
"It got to the point where he couldn't see," the head coach said.
Tortorella acknowledged that playing without Werenski, and with only five defensemen, in overtime wasn't ideal.
"Werenski's probably our best player, but it's part of (the game)," he said.
Werenski was injured moments before the Penguins tied the game at 3-3, and the usually opinionated coach declined to say whether he thought the goal should have been disallowed because the defenseman was bleeding.
"It's their call," Tortorella said of the referees. "I've seen it called both ways. I don't think we got puck possession, but I've still seen ... the refs blow (the whistle) right away (and) they decided not to."
Werenski's teammates echoed their coach's complimentary words when asked about the rookie.
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and forward Cam Atkinson both described Werenski as a "warrior," and Foligno made a point of insisting the play he was injured on didn't cost Columbus the game.