Matt Cullen is back from his broken foot a little ahead of schedule and his reward is playing on the Sidney Crosby line. Not a bad reward! Rest of the team remains the same.
Ready for action. pic.twitter.com/0q95BcQCKe— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 3, 2017
The Penguins 3rd line of Carl Hagelin - Carter Rowney - Bryan Rust gets a zone entry at 7:40 remaining in the period. They along with defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang just go to absolute work, cycling, passing, grinding, shooting, retrieving. A thing of beauty. The Pens keep so much zone time that most the line is able to change. One of those is Phil Kessel who gets the puck at 6:30. The Blue Jackets are trapped, tired and can't keep up. Kessel wheels around the o-zone and scores at 6:23. Masterful team goal there.
The wrister of all wristers. pic.twitter.com/Ghs34ya5Jf— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 4, 2017
Pens make it 2-0 just before the end of the first with a great play by Cullen skating through human pilon Dalton Prout and going to the net. The puck sits perfectly for Patric Hornqvist to tap into the empty net.
What a play by Matt Cullen to set up that Hornqvist goal. He's back on the ice and not holding anything back! pic.twitter.com/tDLFGLdNzb— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 4, 2017
Shots even at 13, goals uneven at 2-0 good guys.
Brandon Dubinsky gets his NHL sanctioned "assault on Crosby" of the game out of the way here...And at least he doesn't target the head/neck this time? Progress?
Scoreless hockey until 4 minutes and change left, Olli Maatta pinches but the puck goes the other way. Trevor Daley slides and takes himself out of the play (not ideal) and Maatta's momentum took him past Dubinsky which ended up not ideal since he found the puck and elevated it over Murray to halve the lead at 2-1.
Dubinsky for CBUS 2-1 Pens pic.twitter.com/xGT73TBucX— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) February 4, 2017
The Pens strike back quickly though, Jake Guentzel makes a great cross-ice pass over to Nick Bonino for his 8th of the season. 3-1.
Shots 25-23 in favor of Pittsburgh after 40 minutes
CBJ strikes in the opening minute of the 3rd on a 4v4 when Alexander Wennberg finds a soft spot in the defense and unleashes a nice shot. 3-2.
Wennberg draws the Blue Jackets back to within 1. pic.twitter.com/cIPConDcyd— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) February 4, 2017
Columbus strikes again with an offensive scramble and nice play by Cam Atkinson to knock a puck out of mid-air and into the net. The Maatta/Daley pair being a little too nice to not tie up any sticks in front.
Atkinson bats it in to tie the game for CBUS pic.twitter.com/YMvBiiPPnN— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) February 4, 2017
That would be it for the regulation scoring. Shots up to 31-28 CBJ in the game, thanks to outshooting Pittsburgh 8-4 in the 3rd period.
Finally a power play in the game after Atkinson blatantly hooks Crosby on a breakaway. With Sid picking Dubinsky's pocket like this, no matter the oaf is so mad at him all the time.
Bobrovsky save on Crosby pic.twitter.com/CXiAYuwZMJ— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) February 4, 2017
This power play leads to Kessel's second goal of the game, to put this one away. Kris Letang shoots, a Columbus player blocks but a fortunate bounce sends the puck to Kessel and that's all she wrote. Pens win, baby.
Kessel with the OT winner: pic.twitter.com/tA3kGvymrb— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) February 4, 2017
- Matt Murray was good in the first, including stopping Boone Jenner from all alone after the Pens whole defense coughDaleycough flew the whole defensive zone and got caught when there was a turnover.
- Amazingly, an identical play happened again in the 2nd when the whole Penguins team flew the zone coughSchultzcough and Nick Foligno had a total 2-on-0 with plenty of time. Murray was up for the challenge and stopped the shot.
- Pens came out finally suppressing shots, only letting CBJ get 1 shot in the first 10:40 of the second period...After an intermission they were sure to try and bounce back from after going down 2-0 in the first. Then, it would be a bunch of shots in a hurry as Columbus flew past the 30 shot mark by the middle of the 3rd period.
- 8 straight games played for Matt Murray. "He's in control back there," said Mike Sullivan in game during an interview. In case you needed any more evidence that Murray's far and away the guy Sully has hooked the wagon to.
- Guentzel looked better tonight for noticeable skill plays with the puck than the last few games. And not just for his assist on the Pens 3rd goal (which was a beaut). He had a nice drop pass to Kessel that created a scoring chance and a nice shot on goal too.
- Pens improve to 20-0-0 this season when leading after 2 periods...Got a little of a sweat in this one though blowing a 2 goal 3rd period lead.
- No power plays award in this game all the way until overtime, pretty odd. Only a pair of penalties for roughing in the 2nd period to have some 4v4 action.
- Well, whoever took the 3rd period for when Chris Kunitz would be put back on Crosby's line, you win. Despite Cullen creating a goal in the 1st, Sullivan elected to shuffle the deck and put old reliable back with Sid, so it'll be interesting to see what direction they go with another game tomorrow.
- The Maatta/Daley pair was on ice for all 3 goals against tonight, and looked pretty bad on them all too. That duo just hasn't been working this season, yet it doesn't look like there are many obvious current alternatives unless some sort of trade is made.
- Nice to see the OT comeback, but blowing a 2 goal lead in the 3rd period isn't too much fun. The 3rd period was really bad for the Pens, with only 4 shots on goal and pretty sluggish play. Luckily they redeemed and got the W, but next time step on the throat, eh?
No rest for the Penguins after the emotional win, they're off overnight to fly to St. Louis for a game tomorrow night. Be here or be square.