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Penguins vs. Blue Jackets Recap: For those about to rock. Pens win 5-2

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The Penguins jump out early on the Columbus Blue Jackets and never look back. Winning 5-2 on the road. Jake Guentzel with a 3 point game.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

The Penguins are using the same lineup from last night’s win, save a goalie change with Matt Murray getting a well deserved night off. Tristan Jarry gets the nod for his first NHL action since January 17th.

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And here are the opposition groupings for the Columbus Blue Jackets

1st period

Early on Jake Guentzel makes a pass back for the point for the Big Rig Jamie Oleksiak. Oleksiak throws a puck to the net and Riley Sheahan reaches across his body to deflect the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky.

But wait - John Tortorella’s diaper is full already! He’s yelling at the ref and challenges the goal for goalie interference. Might as well since who knows what goalie interference even means these days. Phil Kessel does jostle ever so barely with Bobrovsky but it’s after the puck has already beaten him, so good goal. Suck it Torts.

The Pens strike again before the first TV timeout, Evgeni Malkin drops the puck for Brian Dumoulin who hammers one up from the point. Ex-Penguin Scott Harrington provides a screen and even worse might have deflected the puck and it sneaks by Bobrovsky. 2-0 Pens early.

CBJ strikes back because Artemi Panarin must have sold his soul to score a goal every time he plays Pittsburgh. Or he’s just really good at hockey, one or the other. Anyways he drives to the net and Cam Atkinson puts a puck on his stick right in front of the net and if there’s one thing Pens fans know about the Breadman it’s that he’s not going to miss from there. 2-1 game.

But the Pens don’t stay down for long, the “3rd” line strikes again pushing to the net and Sheahan scores his 2nd of the game with a fairly weak blocker side shot on Bob. Pittsburgh has 3 goals on 4 shots and all of Ohio must be having flashbacks to the playoffs. 3-1.

Shots 10-7 Columbus in the period. Goals 3-1 Pittsburgh. Sure seems like the ‘17 playoff series.

2nd period

Early in the 2nd Tristan Jarry takes the rare penalty as a goalie for tripping Panarin but the Pens kill it off.

Then young Chris Kunitz err Zach-Aston Reese scores from in front when he finds a juicy loose puck right in front of the net and slams it home. 4-1 Pens.

Game rolls on, Columbus getting more shots but unable to do anything with it. The Pens look content to keep the clock movin’.

Jake Guentzel goes to the box, the Pittsburgh PK comes through again.

Shots end up 13-5 CBJ in the 2nd period and 23-12 Columbus overall. It’s a quality over quantity night tonight for sure with a 4-1 Pens lead after 40.

3rd period

Early in the period Columbus is making their push. They don’t want to make it easy. Boone Jenner makes a nice pass across the rink that Ian Cole can’t quite breakup and Jarry is caught a bit deep in his net. Alexander Wennberg shoots high and scores. 4-2.

The Pens strike again and, oh boy Sergei Bobrovsky. Guentzel blows a slapshot by him short-side that an NHL goalie probably should stop 100/100 times. But not this time. 5-2 Pens.

And that pretty much does it. Pens skate out with a relatively easy win 5-2 on the road.

Some thoughts

  • Last night it was the Malkin line that just seemed dominant every shift. Tonight, it was the Guentzel-Sheahan-Kessel line. Tough when that’s the 3rd group that the Pens can roll out there. Sheahan looks a lot more effective and noticeable in front and near the net in the past month or so, he’s going there more and getting rewarded with more goals. Kessel and Guentzel are a joy to watch operate with the puck and find each other in the offensive zone with clever passes.
  • 4 goals in the last 4 games for ZAR. And it’s all simple, repeatable stuff too; usually involving going to the net and having the hands and quickness to capitalize on tight chances. AS we mentioned above, a guy named Kunitz made a living on doing such things for a long time in Pittsburgh. He isn’t going to score every game, but Aston-Reese sure looks like a natural.
  • Jarry wasn’t bad considering it was his first NHL game in a month. Though he had a ton of rubber coming his way, didn’t feel like he had to bail the team out too, too much with unreal chances or saves. Still, he was sharp and solid which is two great traits to have in a backup goalie.
  • Tough day for Columbus; the CAR/NJ game went to OT, Pens and Philly both won and they lost in regulation. That’s tough when most the teams they’re chasing all get points in the standings and they don’t.
  • Love the Pens when they’re working their “low-to-high” game. Guentzel passing back to Oleksiak netted the 1st goal. Malkin dropping the puck for Dumoulin created the 2nd. A bit different from high-to-low but a Matt Hunwick point shot that CBJ blocked still ended up in the net with ZAR in front. The Pens are at their best when they’re changing the levels and getting their defense booming in point shots and that was a big feature of the majority of the goals tonight.
  • Not sure what voodoo doll someone in Penguins land has on Sergei Bobrovsky, but ya gotta love it. Somehow, someway the black and gold just take up a large amount of real estate in his mind. No clue why Tortorella didn’t pull him after giving up the 5th goal of the game to Guentzel with about 6 minutes left.
  • This effort by the Pens is even more impressive since the game started about 20 hours after their last game ended, followed by some travel. Not an easy scheduled game but you would never know it from watching the game itself. Helps to jump out to a big early lead but the boys were all engaged and able to come out swinging to get that early lead too.
  • No power plays for the Pens tonight. Hopefully the refs are saving them all for when Hornqvist comes back, anyways.
  • The Pens have scored 5+ goals in 7 of the last 11 games. The offense is clicking on all cylinders these days.
  • 5 straight wins too. 6-0-1 in the last 2 weeks. 10-1-1 in the last month. Any way you slice it, business is boomin’ to steal the line from the North Shore.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins are in first place in the Metropolitan Division! Ok, so that’s a bit misleading since Washington has played three less games and only 1 point back, so smart money says they will (probably) at some point draw ahead once they even up in games. But, that said the Caps aren’t playing great hockey of late, and the Pens are. 20 games left and there’s a real chance that Pittsburgh can win the division and setup for at least 2 rounds of home-ice advantage. Which with a team on an 11-game home win streak, sounds pretty good.

Now it’s almost like a mini-bye week with no games until Friday night @Carolina. But of course keep it here on Pensburgh all week as we’ll have more on injuries and all the news and ideas for the upcoming trade deadline. Never a dull moment.