The Columbus Blue Jackets are, generally speaking, a big, slow, dumb last-place hockey team coached by a total moron. They're frustrating to play against and benefited by the referees unwilling to whistle them to any questionable hits, which would only lead to more hits. In this game alone, Evgeni Malkin got hit (cleanly) and appeared to hurt his left arm/elbow. Brian Dumoulin got bowled over and interfered but would return. Bryan Rust got mugged several times. Scott Wilson got drilled away from the puck but would return. 0 of these hits merited a call by the refs.
Yikes. But the BJ's couldn't hit and injure their way to a win, fortunately for the Penguins who put 2 more points in the back pocket.
If you've got to give up a 2-on-1, the best possible way would be to Jared Boll and Gregory Campbell, right? 2 4th liners. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they had Justin Schultz defending, who would be the worst possible defenseman to be on the job. Advantage: 'Lumbus, this time.
chippin' in. pic.twitter.com/wqorSs6UOp— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 12, 2016
The Penguins would strike back in the first period with Kris Letang scoring a career season high 13th goal of the season on the power play on a perfect wheelhouse feed by Evgeni Malkin.
That's what we're talking about. Full replay: https://t.co/iA6gJ259js pic.twitter.com/DjrTPkylTm— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 12, 2016
The second period started with a goal flurry, the final 3 goals of the game were all scored in the first 4:47 of the period. Luckily it would be two Pens goals sandwiching a Jackets tally. First up would be Chris Kunitz scoring after Sergei Bobrovsky (in his first game back after a long injury layoff) swims around following a nice Patric Hornqvist chip.
Chris Kunitz waits in the perfect spot and knocks one home on Bobrovsky. pic.twitter.com/6Nl5Wl4ISQ— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 12, 2016
Columbus would tie the game quickly with Cam Atkinson scoring his 24th goal of season on a nice deke move on Marc-Andre Fleury.
60% of the time it works every time pic.twitter.com/QAFu8YbJXN— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 12, 2016
The Pens would get the eventual game-winner with Carl Hagelin collecting a Phil Kessel rebound (courtesy a touch from Malkin) to put Pittsburgh out to stay.
We're going backhand on Bob! Thanks @CarlHagelin! Replay: https://t.co/zy2wY8fyOT pic.twitter.com/NfY9HSEkc0— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 12, 2016
- Nice to see Kunitz (0g+1a in his last 5 games) get on the board with a goal and going to a dirty area to make it happen.
- With Malkin leaving in the 2nd period, we'll see how bad it is, but it looked like his arm buckled in after a fairly routine looking hit. Hopefully not too bad.
- As mentioned above, Wilson briefly left the game, and Tom Kuhhackl was labored (but didn't seem to miss time) after blocking a shot too. That's another good reason not to play a worthless goon like Tom Sestito (who was scratched tonight). Dress a guy like that and go down a forward (or two!) and the team is really in trouble.
- The Pens only played Schultz 8:13 at even-strength, possibly the result of allowing the cross-ice pass on the game's first goal against. It'll be interesting to see if they go back to the now thrice-straight-scratched Derrick Pouliot. And why not? If they're not going to play Schultz hardly at all, might as well give #51 a chance.
- Flip side of the coin is 28:31 played for Letang. This was not an overtime game. That's a lot in such a physically taxing game. Sidney Crosby, in Malkin's absence, was also double-shifted to 22:15. Don't have much a choice but to play the stars so much this late in the year, but my goodness that doesn't make it any less.
- Lol at the audible "Fleury" chants on the road. Pens contingent always shows up strong in Columbus.
- Nice to see Hagelin back in the lineup, didn't look like he missed a beat, which is always good to see after a guy comes back from any type of head injury.
- Also welcome back to the lineup for the first time since Feb 2nd to Eric Fehr.
- Bryan Rust was big time this game. He frustrated the more slow-footed of the CBJ defensemen all night long, and he never backed down when they tried to bully him after the whistle. Really good showing for him, even though his name didn't find the scoresheet.
- Congrats to Fleury on career win #350. It was well earned.
- Pens improve to 28-0-0 when leading after 2 periods and remain the only team in the NHL this season to win every single game when up after 40 minutes.
A black-and-blue win, but a win nonetheless, which is the most important thing this time of year. I'd expect no skate tomorrow ahead of the final game of the 4 game road trip being a Sunday afternoon matinee against the New York Rangers.