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Pre-cap: Pens fall 4-2 to Columbus

The Pittsburgh Penguins lose the game, but have some good signs even in defeat

It was the game for the kids, get it?
It was the game for the kids, get it?
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

After falling behind 4-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Pittsburgh Penguins ended up losing 4-2 in an exhibition game on Saturday in front of 18,000 hockey playing kids who got into the game for free. It's an annual tradition, and so seemingly is getting in a lot of fights during this particular game.

Tempers boiled over towards the end of the first period with 30 seconds left when Steve Oleksy of the Pens fought Brett Gallant. Gallant had earlier hit Olli Maatta with a big shot. Then, all hell broke out when the Pens Tim Sestito bumped into Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky slashed him back and Sestito started punching. A couple of Blue Jackets jumped into help out their teammate.

Other than those fireworks, it was a preseason game. Not a lot to gleam out of it, and good that everyone seemingly came out of the game unscathed.

A few other thoughts:

  • Pens got killed early in shots, going down 14-1 in the first period. Jeff Zatkoff was OK, certainly not to blame for any goals against early with the team failing to generate much.
  • But when they did generate, it came with Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel showing off more chemistry. On the first Pens goal, Kessel collected a puck, swooped around the net and then bulleted a pass for Crosby to tip into the net from point-blank range.
  • On the Pens second goal, with just 10 seconds left in the second period, Kessel fired one in from the slot.
  • Interestingly that's the second time in his past 2 games that Kessel has "beat the buzzer" with a goal in a period's dying seconds. Not sure if that will continue, but it's an interesting trend developed.
  • The Kessel goal was started after Sergei Plotnikov drove to the net, and found the loose puck before his countryman Sergei Bobrovsky did. Plots kicked it back to the slot and Kessel did the rest. Nice to see Plotnikov get to show some good instincts and skill in front of the net. And, of course, the willingness to go there.
  • Derrick Pouliot had a bumpy game, after a pretty solid preseason to this point.

  • Ruh roh, if Pouliot isn't good enough right now to make the NHL team (and contribute) this team is in trouble. They need him to be good enough to pitch in. Hopefully this is some motivation by Coach Johnston to inspire a young player who had a bad game.
  • According to Bob Errey of the Root Sports team, Sidney Crosby had a skate blade chop in to the back of his ankle, and Errey at least credited the Kevlar socks Crosby (along with many NHL players) wear to preventing a possibly serious injury. It's too early for injuries, Hockey Gods...
  • A missed opportunity happened in the 3rd period with a two-man advantage, but hey with no Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist (all inactive today) that's at least 60% of the #1 unit that didn't dress.
  • Liked seeing Matt Cullen out there killing penalties. It's early in the season (which hasn't technically begun) but the 38 year old's legs looked good out there. The Pens will need him as a PK'er this season.
  • In the last coach thought, Mike Johnston likes Daniel Sprong . Some high praise for the young man, who still doesn't really have a clear path to break camp with the NHL team but his star continues to rise in the organization as the only real skilled forward prospect the Pens have.

  • In the 3v3, Sprong was instrumental in the goal Crosby scored. About 10 seconds before the goal, Sprong took the puck away from David Savard and the puck found Crosby, who rotated around the offensive zone into space and then rifled a shot by Bobrovsky.