The Columbus Blue Jackets gave up two third period goals and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a final score of 3-2. An entertaining game from the opening draw was spoiled by a controversial call in the dying minutes of the game, but we’ll get to that later.
Here’s how it went down.
Right from puck drop, the energy was high. Both teams never seem to have any trouble getting up for games against each other. There were good chances for each team about 4 minutes in, with each goalie making stops early. The Jackets were buzzing around the offensive zone and capitalized when Oliver BJORKSTRAND fired home his 100th career goal. Jack Roslovic made it happen, creating a turnover and then drawing two Penguins to him before finding BJORKSTRAND all alone for the one-timer.
1-0 CBJ (BJORKSTRAND from Roslovic and Voracek)
It was nice to see the Blue Jackets acknowledge former Blue Jacket and current season ticket holder, Brandon Dubinsky, on the big screen. They picked the right opponent to finally do so.
DUBI'S IN THE HOUSE pic.twitter.com/yD2evv2DxG— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 27, 2022
The Penguins had their first power play opportunity about 12 minutes in when Boone Jenner hauled down Evgeni Malkin. The Jackets were able to kill the penalty, but the Pens kept their foot on the gas, hemming the Jackets in their own zone. Once the Jackets finally managed to clear the zone, the puck was turned over leading to a breakaway by Evan Rodriguez. Elvis got just enough of the puck to change the direction ever so slightly to send the puck off the post.
The Jackets managed to hang on and appeared to be weathering the storm, but the Pens pressure proved to be too much and they tied the game in the last minute of the period. Elvis Merzlikins got caught up with Vladislav Gavrikov and fell to the ice. By the time he got back to his feet a puck was already heading towards the back of the net before he could get settled. It was the fluky type of goal the Penguins always seem to get against the Blue Jackets.
1-1 (Ruhwedel from Malkin and Kapanen)
The second started off with a (literal) bang. Andrew Peeke plastered Jake Guentzel almost immediately into the period. Jackets need to do more of that, as they had much success playing that way against Florida the other night.
Three minutes in Jeff Carter took a dive and sent the Penguins back to the power play. Vladislav Gavrikov, already sporting a fresh black eye, blocked a Sidney Crosby slapper with his forearm. Talk about sacrificing the body, the poor guy can’t catch a break. The Jackets killed the power play, but once again, the Pens kept the Jackets on their heels.
Shortly after, the Blue Jackets were granted an opportunity to seize the momentum back when Jake Guentzel went off for hooking Patrik Laine. The Blue Jackets did generate a few good looks, but ultimately were unable to beat Pens goaltender, Casey DeSmith.
Right near the halfway mark of the game, the Jackets cashed in on that momentum just moments after the power play ended, Jack Roslovic found the puck and wasted no time. shooting a laser top shelf just past DeSmith’s head.
2-1 Jackets (Roslovic unassisted)
Offsetting minor penalties from Gabriel Carlsson and Zach Aston-Reese resulted in some 4-on-4 hockey. It was surprisingly tight checking considering the extra space on the ice, although Elvis was forced to make a tough stop on a deflection in front by Evan Rodriguez who had gotten lost behind the defense.
The remaining minutes of the second were pretty back and forth — as was much of the game — and the period ended with the Jackets hanging onto a one goal lead. Shots were 28-26 in favor of Pittsburgh as this point, but the game felt very even. It was anyone’s game headed into the third.
That same intense pace was still there to start the final frame with each team generating a chance early. A lot of trips up and down the ice didn’t result in much for the first 8 minutes of the period with just four total shots.
Emil Bemstrom juuuust missed scoring an insurance goal backhanding a loose puck in front of the net that looked to be trickling across the goal line. Penguins defenseman, Mark Friedman swept the puck off the goal line just before it crossed. Poor Bemmer. He had a lot of jump in his game tonight and looked good in his return to action in limited minutes.
Just past the halfway mark of the period, the Penguins went back on the power play when Sean Kuraly went off for high-sticking Evgeni Malkin. He was also guilty of a slew foot, so he got his money’s worth on the penalty.
Pittsburgh was unable to generate much of anything in the first half of the power play. Head Coach Mike Sullivan decided to call a timeout to keep his top unit on the ice. The move paid off, as Evgeni Malkin finished off a nice passing sequence that dissected the Jackets’ penalty killers.
2-2 (Malkin from Rust and Guentzel)
Patrik Laine nearly answered moments later with a wrister form the slot but DeSmith was able to get a shoulder on it. It was a good couple of response shifts after the Pens goal.
It was looking as if the Jackets and Penguins were headed to overtime, when who else, but Sidney Crosby found a loose puck on his stick in front and slid it past Elvis who was down and out. Head coach Brad Larsen immediately challenged the goal for interference, as Crosby definitely made contact with Elvis just prior to scoring. To absolutely nobody’s surprise the goal was upheld (Elvis initiated the contact), and that would end up being the game winner. Crosby would have had to commit an offense just short of murder to have the league take away a goal from him.
To add insult to injury, the Blue Jackets had to play the rest of the game (save a few seconds) shorthanded for losing the challenge.
You be the judge.
Sid with a greasy one for the W pic.twitter.com/QEwN5LsAgc— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) February 28, 2022
Final 3-2 Penguins (Crosby from Letang and Rust)
The Blue Jackets are back at it on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils on Hockey is for Everyone night.