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Penguins vs. Blue Jackets: Pittsburgh gives up 7 straight in ugly loss

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The Pittsburgh Penguins play great for 10 minutes, but unfortunately hockey games are 60. Columbus scores 7 straight to run away with what ends up being an easy win and boosts them into first place in the division.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

One change for the Penguins with Steve Oleksy entering the lineup and Chad Ruhwedel getting the night off on defense.

1st period

It doesn't take long for Sidney Crosby to do Sidney Crosby things, batting a puck out of mid-air (again!) the result of a rebound of an Ian Cole point-shot. (And some really great work by Conor Sheary to keep the puck in the zone. Pens take a 1-0 lead.

Cole catches a bad break, collides with 2 Blue Jackets players and it looks like friendly fire causes a high-stick, but Cole takes a double minor penalty putting the red hot CBJ power play out. Pittsburgh kills the first portion, but then on the second Columbus strikes on a nice cross-crease pass from Nick Foligno to Cam Atkinson (with Brian Dumoulin poorly diving on his belly taking away nothing but himself out of the play) for a slam dunk goal. 1-1.

Shots 10-6, Pittsburgh after 20. The Pens pretty much controlled play, aside from the 4-minute penalty that really threw a cramp in the game and allowed CBJ to climb back in.

2nd period

Luck reverses early in the 2nd, Dumoulin's stick hits Crosby up high but the refs send a Jacket to the box. The Penguins fail to score (CBJ gets the better of the chances, actually) but tensions get higher and boil over with Oleksy and Boone Jenner dropping gloves and getting in a rare fight for these days.

However the next goal goes to the Jackets, a nice top-shelf backhand by William Karlsson from right in front of the net after Sam Gagner gets free from Dumoulin's defending behind the net and passes out for him. 2-1.

Scott Hartnell bats a puck past Derrick Pouliot at the Pens offensive blue line and then outskates him the rest of the ice for a goal. This wasn't even getting caught flat-footed just a terrible play by Pouliot in every regard, capped off by coasting in after Hartnell beats him for positioning and then dekes backhand on Matt Murray to extend the lead to 3-1.

Columbus much better in the 2nd period, shots 12-6 in the period for them and goals 2-0.

3rd period

The news doesn't get any better, the Pens lose a defensive zone faceoff then have really poor coverage. Gagner has all day on the wall to sit and wait for Hartnell to come free, makes a good pass and with traffic in front Hartnell gets his second of the night to make it 4-1.

(Can't find the GIF at this time, sorry)

Then just 17 seconds later Alexander Wennberg makes a great pass to Brandon Saad and he quickly shoots it past Murray to make it 5-1.

The shits keep on coming, the Pens defense backs way off Jenner and he shoots a puck past Murray to make it 6-1. Really the first bad one Murray had somewhat of a chance on, but the wheels are all the way off.

Marc-Andre Fleury into the game but he doesn't hold tight to his post and Hartnell completes his hat trick. 7-1.

While 6-1, btw

Then, at least

Some Thoughts

  • Following up on a note from last game, Crosby + Bryan Rust form the 3rd unit for the four-minute kill. Usually the team would elect to just rotate their top 2 forward units for a normal two-minute kill.
  • As has become customary, Derrick Pouliot made a poor play with the puck with about 3:15 left in the first period. He was off the ice about 15 seconds later and that was his final shift of the period. His icetime overall didn't suffer due to staying on the 2nd PP unit and Oleksy's fight cutting the Pens down to 5D for a while, though, unlike past games where mistakes earned a reduction in playing time. And his play on the Hartnell goal was really, really bad.
  • Unlike past games, Columbus wasn't chasing a Crosby vs. Brandon Dubinsky matchup all night long. Crosby was awful in the faceoff circle tonight though regardless.
  • After what our buddy Jesse Marshall accurately called Dumoulin's best game of the year, last time out against NYR, he was...um, to be charitable not so good tonight with his defending on the first two goals against.
  • The Penguins were a great 2nd period team last year (and this year too) but tonight the tables got turned on them. Tortorella was seething at his team at the end of the 1st when they were heavily outplayed and surely lit into them in the locker-room. They came out much better in the 2nd. Pittsburgh didn't seem to be able to match the intensity and made some poor defensive mistakes.'
  • Probably the worst game of Murray's career but not too much his fault. The Penguins played really good for the first 10 minutes or so but then dropped off, and Murray for a change was helpless to keep the puck out of the net.
  • Fleury hasn't exactly had to play a lot lately, so it's probably no big deal to send him in relief tonight. In hindsight, with the way the team was playing maybe they woulda/shoulda/coulda pulled Murray after the first goal of the 3rd period to make the score 4-1, just to give a shot in the arm or switch it up. But they didn't and Murray surrendered 2 more goals in less than a minute to really turn the game into a laugher.
  • On the bright side: hey at least no one got hurt right?

Whether you lose 100-0, or 3-2 a regulation loss counts just the same. It's December. Pittsburgh didn't deserve to win and fell apart, but it is a long season. And it continues tomorrow night in PA against the Devils. No better way than to get back at it before Christmas break.