As the NHL preseason winds down, Friday night’s contest between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins featured an opportunity for the regulars to see action against the visiting Penguins before things get started for real next week.
Right off the opening face-off, the action was off in a hurry and capitalized on an Artemi Panarin goal, assisted from Cam Atkinson and Zach Werenski 31 seconds in.
Kind of like old times, and I guess Panarin figures to be feeling better from that neck strain.
Columbus was fluid early in the first period, crowding Tristan Jarry’s net. And it was Panarin, again, on a tic-tac-toe feed burying his second goal, again assists from Atkinson an Werenski.
Nearly half a minute later, Sidney Crosby buried a wide-open net, assisted by Zach Trotman. Just 35 seconds later, Carl Hagelin (unassisted) tied the score at two on a breakaway.
Columbus saw the first power play of the game, and it failed to generate any offensive pressure. In fact, Hagelin nearly gave the Penguins a lead on a short-handed breakaway but missed on the crossbar.
Werenski found his third point of the frame when he banked a pass off Boone Jenner in front of the net and in for the third goal at 12:11. For No. 8 to be looking so good helps make up for the loss of Seth Jones.
Pittsburgh tied the game on Derick Brassard’s goal (unassisted) at 17:27. The play originated inside the Jackets’ blue line, coming off a David Savard turnover. Werenski was caught 2-on-1 but had little to no play on Brassard who took the shot and converted.
Things kept getting wild and crazy as the puck found Riley Nash at the other end, towards the final minutes of the period, with Jarry coming out wide of his net but keeping the scored knotted at three.
I swear, preseason or not, these teams always make it interesting. And no, Jack Johnson did not play on this night. In fact, he didn’t make the trip to his ole stomping grounds.
Scott Harrington would miss the rest of the game after sustaining an upper body injury in the first period. He played 0:32.
In period No. 2, the Jackets, already on the power play, went 5-on-3 when Hagelin was was called for tripping. Columbus managed few shots, before again, being beaten on another shorthanded breakaway, with Brassard scoring his second of the game. Bryan Rust picked up the assist.
It’s not all on Bobrovsky when leaky defense lends way to breakaways and scoring opportunities. But Bobrovsky didn’t exactly make his presence felt until the final minutes of the game.
Hey Seth, you’re out only out a month, right? I mean, a month?!
The penalty kill of the Jackets generated more of the offensive chances than the power play. Nash found a chance on some nice moves deking around the Penguins defense but nothing doing. Pittsburgh would recover and net their fifth goal, Patric Hornqvist this time doing the honors, assisted by Juuso Riikola and Evgeni Malkin.
Playoffs or preseason, Columbus has got to figure out a way to start fast, sustain it, and finish against these guys.
Looking to stop the bleeding, Panarin, this time, found Atkinson to Jarry’s right, and slammed home the puck on the one-timer to cut the deficit to one.
In another 5-on-3 opportunity for Columbus, Nick Foligno found the equalizer at the front of the crease, with guess who? Panarin and Atkinson finding the assists. Jarry was pulled for Casey DeSmith, both netminders promised half the game from the start. Bobrovsky played the whole way through.
Werenski nearly found his fourth point of the evening, and first goal on a shot that did not elude DeSmith, but he was certainly feeling it.
Going into the third period tied at five, the Penguins grabbed the 6-5 lead on yet another breakaway with Rust scoring his first of the preseason, and Brassard and Riikola getting the assists.
Bryan Rust alone on Bobrovsky (sensing a trend here?) and beats him high over the glove - roofed into top right corner for 6-5 #pens lead— Brian Hedger (@JacketsInsider) September 29, 2018
With 9:35 reaming in the game, Dean Kukan let one rip from the right face-off circle of DeSmith and getting it past for the sixth goal. Nash and Savard added assists.
Looking to regain their first lead since the first, the Blue Jackets did just that. Similar to Kukan, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored to the right of DeSmith from inside the right face-off circle, unleashing the go-ahead 7-6 tally. Werenski added a fourth assist and Foligno picked up his second point of the night. Bjorkstrand’s four preseason goals have all come against the Penguins, including the hat trick last weekend.
The final score was Columbus 7 Pittsburgh 6. Bobrovsky started to look like vintage Bob at the end and hey, it’s first win over Pittsburgh in a couple of years.
This will be another fun season-series.
Columbus finishes the preseason at the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night.
Shots on Goal
PIT 3 (1-3)
CBJ 6 (1-6)