Going into tonight, the Jackets hadn’t won in Pittsburgh since 2015. They’re in a battle for last, with a franchise changing center on the line. The Penguins are in a wildcard race, in desperate need of a win. So shouldn’t Columbus dominate the Pens in their own barn?
After a lil misplay behind the net by Elvis Merzlikins, Eric Robinson was able to draw a holding call as Jan Rutta tried to prevent a half-breakaway. After a decent shift from the top unit, Cole Sillinger, Kent Johnson, Nick Blankenburg, and Emil Bemstrom would combine for some nice passing, with the latter burying it past Tristan Jarry for the early 1-0 lead.
BLUE JACKETS POWER PLAY GOAL - Emil Bemstrom from Sillinger and Johnson - 4:02 1st Period
That’s the Bemstrom we like to see!— CBJ Artillery (@CBJArtillery) March 8, 2023
The Penguins kept pressuring for the equalizer, but an inability to settle passes and some tired legs got the Blue Jackets another goal. Liam Foudy used his speed up the ice, on a 2-on-0, and while the initial chance missed, Lane Pederson found the rebound to double the lead.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Lane Pederson from Foudy - 7:54 1st Period
The 2-0 goal #CBJpic.twitter.com/mef65geySe— Union and Blue (@UnionAndBlue) March 8, 2023
Now firmly on their heals, the Jackets again capitalized on Pittsburgh’s unfortunate puck luck, with Johnson turning a turnover into a breakout pass to Jack Roslovic, who faked a drive to the net before wrapping back around to Patrik Laine. The Finn finished the beautiful setup.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Patrik Laine from Roslovic and Johnson - 10:11 1st Period
March 8, 2023
The Penguins took their timeout to regroup, but it didn’t seem to help much. Sidney Crosby got a golden opportunity that Merzlikins denied, but beyond that, the Jackets were firmly in control. The Gaudreau-Jenner-Marchenko line had a particularly dominant shift, and despite Blankenburg and Erik Gudbranson having injury scares, Columbus kept up the pressure through the end of the first, earning a fair number of boos from the Yinzers present.
A surprise at the start of the second, with Michael Hutchinson taking over the net for Columbus. Apparently Elvis had a stomach bug, and with the team up three, it was decided to let Hutch ride this one out. It didn’t seem to matter much, as Foudy would rip one past Tristan Jarry less than three minutes in, earning the former his second point of the night, and ending the game for the latter.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Liam Foudy from Bemstrom - 2:37 2nd Period
Where momma hides the cookies— CBJ Artillery (@CBJArtillery) March 8, 2023
It seemed like four was the magic number to get Pittsburgh awake, as they’d push hard and control most of the rest of the period. Marchenko would almost make it 5-0 after returning from a shot block scare, but beyond that it was all Penguins. Hutchinson made a couple great saves, including one on Josh Archibald, before Jason Zucker finally broke through.
PENGUINS GOAL - Jason Zucker from Malkin and Nylander - 10:23 2nd Period
Remember, back when this team was decent, how the Blue Jackets would build a ton of momentum and seem on the brink of scoring, before a disastrously terrible power play would kill any and all momentum? That’s exactly what happened to Pittsburgh, with Laine going off with just under four to go, and the Penguins proceeding to do absolutely nothing with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, and an extra man, and then kinda played out the string for the last two minutes. It’s nice to see that go the other way. Despite a much better period, and now leading the shots battle 24-19, the residents of Western PA still felt the need to voice their displeasure going into the final break.
With the Penguins pushing back hard for most of the second, the Blue Jackets needed to use the second intermission to regroup, and then come out strong for the third. They did the exact opposite. Because of course they did.
PENGUINS GOAL - Jake Guentzel from Crosby and Rakell - 0:21 3rd Period
PENGUINS GOAL - Jason Zucker (2) from Malkin - 3:16 3rd Period
PENGUINS GOAL - Danton Heinen from Rakell and Crosby - 3:59 3rd Period
The rest of the game was actually decently back and forth and entertaining, though the Penguins would control most of the period. Shots for the game would finish 47-27 for Pittsburgh. Andrew Peeke was able to deke the socks off a goalie, but that goalie was Michael Hutchinson, and he pushed the puck wide. Both Crosby and Laine had golden opportunities to take the lead in regulation, but Hutchinson and DeSmith made clutch saves to keep it even. Columbus got a late Powerplay, and did decently, but nothing came out of it. To overtime.
After a bit of back and forth and a horrendous turnover by Roslovic, Captain Boone Jenner would get outskated to the net, and pay with a hooking penalty. The Penguins used their second timeout, which is totally a thing that exists and should happen, before Crosby did Crosby things and won it. The Jackets will wait until next season to attempt to get out of their Pittsburgh blues.
PENGUINS POWER PLAY GOAL - Sidney Crosby from Malkin - 2:45 Overtime
This team, man. It’s hard to watch. It’s harder to enjoy. It’s stupidly predictable stupidity.
#NHL GameScore Impact Card for Columbus Blue Jackets on 2023-03-07:#CBJ pic.twitter.com/loR5h2uzE6— HockeyStatCards (@hockeystatcards) March 8, 2023
See y’all Saturday against St. Louis.