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Penguins/Blue Jackets Recap: Guentzel’s hat trick pulls Pens past Columbus

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Penguins are winners again, 4-2 over Columbus tonight

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineup

Patric Hornqvist (concussion) is out for this game. The recently recalled Garrett Wilson is in the lineup.

1st period

The Blue Jackets strike first early in the game. Former Penguin Scott Harrington gets the puck in the slot with a ton of time and space and he rips a shot that squeezes between Casey DeSmith’s arm and body and ends up in the net.

The lead lasts only 45 seconds though, the Penguins get a couple of offensive zone starts and double shift the Evgeni Malkin line. Malkin wins a faceoff to Phil Kessel, who in a set play is lined up on the left wing as a right handed shot to have plenty of space looking at the net. Kessel shoots quickly and Joonas Korpisalo makes the save but kicks out a big rebound to Tanner Pearson. Pearson makes no mistakes to score his 3rd goal as a Penguin in his sixth game to tie this game at 1.

Just 1:28 later, the quick-strike Pens score again. Harrington gives back his goal by turning the puck over and Kris Letang passes down to Sidney Crosby. Crosby makes a sublime no-look backhand pass to the slot where of course it’s right in perfect position for Jake Guentzel to skate into and shoot immediately. Good grief, Sid. 2-1 Pittsburgh.

The top line strike again to make it 3-1. Letang fires a long pass up to Crosby. Someone named Markus Nutivaara attempts to check Sidney Crosby, and it goes about as well as it should for someone named Markus Nutivaara. Sid shrugs him off meaninglessly, feeds Jake with another backhand pass and Guentzel hits the far side with a wrist shot.

Shots end up 14-11 Pittsburgh after one period of play.

2nd period

The red hot Cam Atkinson scores for his 7th game in a row on a rush, backing Jack Johnson waaaay off on his gap control (hE’s NoT PLAyINg tHaT bAD!) and firing a shot from the top of the circles that DeSmith is likely screened on a bit by his defenseman to make the score 3-2.

Guentzel completes his hat trick to push the score to 4-2, finding the bouncing puck before Ryan Murray can to chip it home.

The Pens appear to get a back-breaking buzzer beater with Tanner Pearson making a great play to shoot the puck, Korpisalo kicks out another rebound, this time to Kessel who quickly goes 5-hole with 4.4 seconds left to make it 5-2. But wait, Pittsburgh is offside, no goal. Bummer.

Shots in the 2nd frame are 14-13 Pens, and 28-24 Pittsburgh overall in the game.

3rd period

Not too much going on in the 3rd. DeSmith makes a great save on Alex Wennberg on a 3-on-1 rush.

Pittsburgh gets the game’s first power play but can’t score.

Then with just over 2 minutes left, Bryan Rust takes a penalty and Columbus throws the kitchen sink with a 6v4 power play after pulling their goalie. They don’t score though and the time runs out.

Some Thoughts

  • Pittsburgh went 4-0 against Columbus last year, and continues that trend of recent domination tonight.
  • Just me or are they starting to over-do it a bit with the yellow jerseys? I’m OK with them, and since they just rolled them out it makes sense they got to get some visibility out there so folks buy a bunch of them, but it feels a bit overload at this point.
  • Only one penalty taken tonight, to go along with I believe none last night. Staying out of the box the past few games has been a big positive for Pittsburgh.
  • Another monster game for Letang. 3 assists, a typical team-high 25:37 played. 10 total shot attempts (5 of which made it on goal), 3 takeaways, 1 hit and 1 blocked shot. The Pens has 31 shot attempts total at even strength with #58 out there, giving up only 13. Scoring chances were 16-4 Pens. Just all over the ice and everywhere.
  • Guentzel always seems to shine against Columbus, especially when you put the playoff numbers in there. He always plays his best and has filled the net on them and tonight was no different getting up to a team-high 11 goals on the season after his hat trick night.
  • Two assists and more great passes from Crosby. Just another night of brilliance.
  • Great night for DeSmith too, making 37 saves on 39 shots and now winning his last 2 starts. With Matt Murray on the IR and not expected to be back in the net any time soon for games, the Pens really need some sturdy goalie play. If DeSmith can keep this up and provide it, that’s obviously a really big and needed plus for the team.

The Pens keep digging, they’re up to 2-0-2 in the last 4 games and up to 23 points in the standings after 22 games. Not in great position just yet, but at this rate they’re starting to climb a bit after falling to dead last in the conference, getting up to at least 11th place as of press time.