The "Let's go Pens" chants were raining down an octave higher during the "Free Game for Kids", beginning at the awkwardest of afternoon hours. Jussi Jokinen would start on Evgeni Malkin's left which would prove to the Pens best move of the night.
The Blue Jackets jumped on the board quickly, courtesy of Brandon Dubinsky. Commence the Marc-Andre Fleury hate-fest, especially since he, once again, allowed a goal on the first shot of the game. If we're going to be fair, though, the Brooks Orpik screen wasn't helping either. Not long after, Harry Zolnierczyk and Jack Skille had a scary collision that consisted of Zolnierczyk doing an ugly McKayla Maroney impression. Luckily he returned to the game not long after.
Before we knew it, the Jackets had two goals on three shots. Spoiler alert: they would only register two more shots in the period. Match that with the Pens total 15 shots, and you can see there was some offensive frustration. Multiple power plays and an extended 5-on-3 triggered some amazing chances with some pretty passing plays, but nothing to show for it. Evgeni Malkin was a star throughout, but Sergei Bobrovsky was even better.
Into the second, Malkin's magic rubbed off on Jokinen who netted three goals in eight minutes for the natural hattrick. That second goal was straight of a highlight reel. Great stuff from Malkin's line overall that clearly dominated the period. However, honorable mention to Rob Scuderi, our favorite "Piece", who made his presence known with a great diving play in front of Fleury to stifle a sure Jackets goal.
The ice was heavily slanted in the Pens' direction going into the third but evened out fairly quickly. Then the Jackets took the lead when a wrap around hit Orpik's shin. Unlucky, but not a good night for Orpik who played a significant role in three of the Jackets' four goals. The Jackets completely controlled the rest of game, the opportunities that came to the Pens just not there anymore. Any opportunities came from the stick of Malkin, but it wouldn't be enough.
A few more notes:
- Olli Maatta had a quiet but great game. Logged 19:10 of ice time and wasn't too noticeable which is a great thing for a young defenseman.
- Usually coaches will switch up their goalies in the third period, but Fleury stayed in the entire game. He had a solid second period so a part of me wonders if he kept him in with the hopes that a win would boost his confidence.
- Jokinen's big night definitely makes things interesting for Beau Bennett who practically inked his name beside Malkin in the lineup. I'm sure we'll see both of them at different points of the season.
Overall, a lot of great things came out of this night, unfortunately the score wasn't one of them. Chicago comes to town Monday.