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Blue Jackets implode in second half of game; lose to Penguins 6-3

Jackets blow 3-1 lead, give up five unanswered goals and allow Pens fans to take over Nationwide Arena

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s a tale as old as time.

The Jackets lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home in front of a packed arena. It was split about 60-40 in terms of Jackets and Pens fans, but you wouldn’t know it by the end of the game considering all the Pens chants and “wooing” in the building.

After a great first period that saw them absolutely dominate Pittsburgh, the Jackets allowed 5 unanswered goals and absolutely collapsed against a team who proved themselves superior in just about all facets of the game. The Blue Jackets simply had no answer for Pittsburgh once they woke up in the second and third period, and the game quickly slipped away from them and turned into a rout.

We’ve pretty much seen this same game many times over the last decade, but here’s how this particular one went down.

First Period

The Blue Jackets knew they needed a better start tonight if they wanted to hang with the Pittsburgh Penguins. They did just that in the opening minutes of the game tonight, keeping the Penguins on their heels and drawing an early penalty.

The Jackets struggling penalty kill did generate a few solid chances but were unable to put the puck past Pens’ net minder, Tristan Jarry. The Jackets generated the first 10 shots on the night with nothing to show for it.

It was the 11th shot of the night that rang true for the Jackets. A ghastly turnover by Kris Letang glanced off Johnny Gaudreau’s leg and on Boone Jenners’ stick all alone right in front of Jarry. Boone wasted no time roofing a wrister in tight over the glove of the Penguins goaltender.

1-0 CBJ (Jenner from Gaudreau)

It took Pittsburgh well over ten minutes to generate their first shot of the game as the Jackets carried all momentum.

An ill-timed retaliatory cross-checking penalty from Andrew Peeke threatened to shift momentum.

Pittsburgh kept control of the puck in the zone for most of the man-advantage, but it was the Jackets who generated the best chance. After blocking a shot, Mathieu Olivier took off down the ice with Justin Danforth on an odd-man rush. Olivier fed Danforth with a beautiful spin-o-rama pass, but Danforth’s shot hit the post.

A penalty late in the period gave Pittsburgh a chance to exit the period all even after being largely outplayed for most of the period.

However, that was not meant to be! Another bad turnover by Kris Letang sent Roslovic in on Jarry all alone without a defenseman in sight. Jack had all the time in the world to pick his spot, and cleanly beat Jarry low, glove side.

2-0 CBJ (Roslovic unassisted)

The Jackets killed the remainder of the period to wrap up what could arguably have been their finest period of the young season.

Second Period

The middle frame opened up with a special guest in the booth with Jeff Rimer. Guy Gaudreau, father of Johnny, stopped by to provide some extra color commentary. He provided some live critiquing of his son’s play and some interesting insight as a former coach himself. Hopefully we can see some more of him in the future.

Pittsburgh broke through early in the period when Josh Archibald beat Elvis cleanly off the rush. It was a goal Elvis will want back as he had a clean look and was in position to make the save.

2-1 CBJ (Archibald from Poehling)

Just seconds later the Jackets reclaimed their two goal lead. Kent Johnson finally found the back of the net on the backhand after Jarry missed a poke check and was beaten five hole.

3-1 CBJ (Johnson from Roslovic)

The Penguins went back on the power play seven minutes in after Sean Kuraly was called for goaltender interference. The Jackets did a great job of keeping the Pens on the perimeter and not allowing any real high-danger opportunities.

Unfortunately, shortly after the penalty was killed, a failed clearing attempt and lost board battle from Gus Nyquist allowed a slapshot to beat Merzlikins.

3-2 CBJ (Rutta from Kapanen and Archibald)

The Penguins had definitely woken up and the pressure was getting to the Jackets. The ice was now firmly tilted in the Penguins favor and Columbus was scrambly, unable to clear the zone and passing the puck into skates.

It just seemed inevitable that Pittsburgh would find the equalizer. It wasn’t long before a loose puck in front of Elvis found its way behind him, and a “Let’s go Pens” chant broke out in Nationwide Arena.

3-3 (Heinen from Crosby)

The Jackets were just barely able to survive the remaining five minutes and exit the period tied at three. To say the Jackets struggled to handle the Penguins’ push that period would be an understatement.

After outshooting Pittsburgh 17-7 in the first period, the Pens returned the favor in the second, evening out the shots at 23. They threw 16 shots on net — and scored on three of them — compared to only 6 from the Jackets. Columbus had a CF% of 66.7% in the first, and had it fall off a cliff in the second, only registering a pitiful 31.3%. It would prove to be some pretty ominous foreshadowing.

Third Period

Justin Danforth was notably absent from the Jackets’ bench in the second period and during the intermission it was announced that he would not return, putting the Jackets down a forward for the remainder of the game. Hope to see him back in the lineup soon.

There were some scary moments early in the period with the Crosby line maintaining zone time and creating chances against the Bean-Gudbranson pairing. They survived the shift, only to get scored on the very next shift they were matched up. To add insult to injury, Gudbranson failed to clear the zone and then tossed Rickard Rakell into Elvis causing him to get ran over after getting beaten by a Sidney Crosby one-timer. The implosion was complete.

4-3 Pens (Crosby from Dumoulin)

The Jackets nearly tied the game off of a Werenski wrister, but it rang harmlessly off of the crossbar. Sadly, that was as close as the Jackets would come to tying the game.

Pittsburgh provided the dagger with just under six minutes to go in the game scoring off an offensive zone draw that had the Jackets sprawling all over the crease while the puck floated to a wide open Penguin who buried the puck past a down and out Elvis. More “Let’s go Pens!” chants ensued. At least they didn’t have their stupid air horn going off every ten seconds.

5-3 (Heinen from Joseph and Crosby)

Only 44 seconds later, the Penguins scored another quick one off the rush to add insult to injury. I was too busy writing about the previous goal to see it live.

6-3 (McGinn from Kapanen and Rutta)

At this point, most Jackets fans had seen enough and headed for the exits, conceding “home ice” to the many vocal Pittsburgh fans and allowing them to salute their team on visiting ice as time expired. I feel bad for the loyal Jackets fans who endure the torture of watching a game against the Penguins at Nationwide.

Final 6-3 Penguins

Up Next

The Blue Jackets are back at it tomorrow in New York against the Rangers at 5pm. They should have lots of energy, since it looks like they quit playing after the first period.