These were the Pittsburgh Penguins we all know and love. A HUGE bounce-back from dropping the home opener against the Sabres. Granted, the Columbus Blue Jackets are very bad now, with most of the firepower from last season gone, but nonetheless, a victory is a victory.
Open the Flood Gates
The goals and points were fairly spread out for the Pens, with a lot of help coming from numerous players. Patric Hornqvist started the scoring off with a nifty little redirect on a shot from Jack Johnson from the point. This sparked a vicious period from the Penguins. Less than 3 minutes later, Marcus Pettersson received a pass from Crosby coming down the left hand side, and put a quick wrister on the glove of Elvis Merzlikins which bounced off and into the back of the net. About 2 and a half minutes later, the Blue Jackets cut the lead in half with a quick shot by Werenski on Murray’s glove side. It was a cross crease play Murray would have had to make, so we can let them one slide I think.
Exactly two minutes after that, Jared McCann netted his first of the season, unassisted too! A quick mistake on the boards from a CBJ defender gave McCann a chance to rocket down the rink and have a 2-on-1 going into the offensive zone. He kept the puck to himself though and shot a quick one far side that bounced against Merzlikins arm and into the back of the net. Fast forward about 7 minutes and McCann would tickle the twine once more. A quick back hand pass from Galchenyuk coming into the offensive zone set up McCann at the top of the left hand circle, where a zipped on short side to give himself his second of the night.
If that wasn’t the nail in the coffin, an almost literal last second shot from Kris Letang on the powerplay was.
With 1.2 seconds left in the 2nd period, Tanger RIPPED a shot in the same exact spot McCann got his first of the night, leaving Merzlikins with an absolute nightmare of an evening.
In perhaps a fashion only befitting of Sidney Crosby, he set Patric Hornqvist up for his second of the night and by god was it a beauty. Receiving a pass going in the offensive zone from Guentzel, Sid went through the left hand circled, taking the pass between his legs and curving it back across the slot to hit Hornqvist with a pass that left him wide open 1-on-1 with the unfortunate Merzlikins, and put it…..you guessed it…..blocker side to give the Pens their 6th of the night. About 2 minutes later, Teddy Blueger netted his first of the season by ripping a shot from the top of the circle, hitting Merzlikins shoulder and in to the net. Columbus would go on to score one more goal, but it was irrelevant in a dying effort.
Broken and battered
The Pens may have took the beating to CBJ, but they certainly didn’t make it out of the game without casualties of their own. Two notable ones at that. Nick Bjugstad, the third line center, left early in the third period. Evgeni Malkin left about halfway through the second period, after he tripped over Kris Letang and tumbled into the boards. Unfortunately for the Penguins, it appears both of the players are out “longer term” with lower body injuries…
According to Mike Sullivan, Malkin’s injury will hold him out longer than Bjugstad, but it isn’t “season threatening”. I guess that’s a light at the end of the tunnel type of thing? It’s going to be rough for the Penguins whose second line of Galchenyuk, Malkin and Tanev were a force to be reckoned with. It kills the chance to develop chemistry early in the season as well. Here’s to hoping both players will be back soon.
Stats seem to be exactly as I expected them to go. The Blue Jackets have always been the more physical of the teams. The only stat I’m not a fan of was again, the power-plays. Pens should be going at least 50% on the PP, but it’s early in the season. We’ll see how it progresses.
This game was vastly better than the first game. The Penguins looked alive, they took the fight to the Jackets all game long and came out on top. It’s good to see the lesser tenured guys stepping up to put some points on the board. It’s good to see that when we put the pressure on, we can benefit from it. Again, it is only the Blue Jackets, but it’s good to see it can happen. Only 1 goal in the first game was concerning, but 7, regardless of a bad team or not, is something to ease any concerns of offensive woes. It’s good to see that an injury to someone like Malkin won’t stop the team from performing either. Let’s see if they can keep it up tomorrow.
Pens face off against the Winnipeg Jets at home at 7pm tomorrow.