The Blue Jackets came into Monday night's game at Pittsburgh with their chance to win their fourth in a row for the first time all season. It would have brought them to within single digits of the last wild card spot.
As it has been for much of this season, the Jackets seem to take a step back for every step forward. The Penguins, without Sidney Crosby, withstood a solid start by the road team and prevailed rather easily, winning this one 5-2.
Columbus started off well, picking up the first goal less than six minutes into the game. Fedor Tyutin fired a bank pass from the point off the boards behind the Penguins net. The puck trickled out to the slot where Alexander Wennberg gathered it and fired the puck home for the 1-0 lead. It was Wennberg's 10th point in the last 9 games.
Later, in the middle of the period, the Jackets would have a prime chance to go up 2-0 lead, but the power play sputtered to a halt with a 5-on-3 chance. The Penguins built on the momentum of that kill the rest of the period and the rest of the game.
The Penguins exploded for four goals in the 2nd period, including two on the man advantage. Phil Kessel added two at even strength in between those power play goals as Pittsburgh had a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes. It helps when Malkin is allowed to interfere with Tyutin just seconds before scoring the tying goal. Kessel scored on two extremely poor defensive efforts - first on a breakaway and then on a 2-on-1. Korpisalo probably wants that fourth one back but at the point, the dam was open.
Boone Jenner scored 5:23 into the 3rd on the rush. It momentarily gave the Jackets life but the Penguins controlled most of the remaining time from there. Korpisalo was off with a couple minutes left but Columbus could never get anything set up. Malkin sealed it with the empty-netter.
Final - Penguins 5-2
Brandon Dubinsky mentioned before the game that these games can be sleepy because it's the final game before the holiday break and he promised the team would come out and play hard. Afterward, he'd say,"the top guys, myself…We didn’t play even close to good enough."
Special teams: Power play was 0 for 2 including that 5-on-3 opportunity. Penalty kill was 2 of 4.
Dalton Prout had an ugly sequence of four cross checks in the final moments of the game, apparently upset with a hit from behind. Fine certainly possible, maybe even a suspension. Crosby was not on the receiving end though.
The Jackets are now 13-13-3 under Torts.
Not sure you want both Jenner and Dubinsky fighting in the 2nd period. After blowing the 5-on-3 chance, I think you want your top offensive guys available as much as possible.
To the Angry Torts Meter!
Nahhh, it's the Holiday break. Plus, we haven't seen truly angry Torts yet (I don't think). He was a bit more subdued in the quick post-game presser anyway.
The Jackets are back in action for a back-to-back on the 26th and 27th out of the break, because of course they are. Until then, from all of us here at The Cannon, Happy Holidays! We'll keep you covered even without hockey games, of course!