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Penguins vs. Blue Jackets Recap: Sid fights, Malkin gets hurt, Pittsburgh scores a lot and wins 7-2

Hornqvist and McCann each score two goals. Lots of other crazy things happen but the Pens win in a blowout

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


The Penguins are so deep they have a $7.25 million third pair ha ha ha (nervous laughing)

Columbus is about as expected on the second night of a back-to-back

First period

The Pens earn the first power play of the game but Sidney Crosby loses the opening faceoff and the team never really gets on track.

The Pens earn the second power play of the game but the team never really gets on track and Kris Letang misplays the puck to Boone Jenner and Matt Murray has to bail them out with a big save.

Other than that, not too much going on early on. Shots are 12-10 Blue Jackets after one, but the Pens enjoy a 4-1 high danger 5v5 scoring chance advantage. That’s notable since Pittsburgh only generated one HDSC at 5v5 in the whole game on Thursday against Buffalo.

Second period

If not much went on in the first, the second was where all hell broke loose.

Just 1:45 into the period, Jared McCann chipped the puck back to the point for Jack Johnson. The future Norris candidate gunned a shot to net and Patric Hornqvist got a slight piece of it to open the scoring at 1-0 for the Pens.

Just 2:29 later, Crosby makes a nice pass back for Marcus Pettersson who jumps up into a ton of empty space and fires a shot that hits the bottom of Elvis Merzlikins’ glove and goes into the net. At this point, the cracks are beginning to show for Merzlikins in an NHL debut..

But Columbus strikes back quickly after the puck fails to clear the zone, it makes its way to Zach Werenski after two quick passes and the talented defenseman snaps it by Murray to get CBJ on the board and make it 2-1.

We still haven’t had the first television timeout.

We get one, but then a tough moment. Evgeni Malkin gets the puck and trips himself skating into a stationary Letang, falls into the wall and then takes a bit of a crunching hit while he’s off his base. Malkin leaves the ice gingerly.

While the longer term implications of that may loom large, in the immediate focus the Pens didn’t skip a beat. McCann replaced Malkin as the second line center and on his very first shift there, he scored in between Merzlikins’ arm and body to make it 3-1 in another fairly iffy goal.

As if it couldn’t get crazier, Pierre-Luc Dubois hits Jake Guentzel a bit high and a bit late and Sidney Crosby takes offense AND THEY GET IN A FIGHT!

And being a guy to do something immediately after something crazy happens, McCann scores his second goal of the game shortly after the fight (just as he scored shortly after the Malkin injury) to make it 4-1 Pens on another type of goal maybe the goalie would want back, just beating him far side. Still, it counts! Nice job by Alex Galchenyuk too by drawing over a couple of defenders and dishing a nice pass that opened up plenty of space for McCann to shoot.

And the madness isn’t done. The Pens go to a third power play, and Kris Letang (who hit the cross bar earlier) scores his first goal of the season to beat the buzzer with 1.2 seconds left in the stanza.

So, just to reset in the second period we had: six goals (five by the Pens), Malkin getting hurt and Crosby getting in a fight. Hey, how are ya?

Shots in the second were 14-12 Pens, and it’s 24-24 after two. I need a break.

Third period

The action settles down a bit in the third for a bit, because how could it be much more?

In a bit though, Sidney Crosby really does Sidney Crosby things for the first time this year, making just an unreal pass reception and smooth, almost blind-but-perfect feed to Hornqvist who scores his second of the game to make it 6-1.

Just wow. Sidney Crosby’s greatest attribute is he can still find new ways to amaze in his 15th season. You just never know how he’s going to do something special on any given shift, and that’s so, so special.

Nick Bjugstad leaves the game also smarting with an injury, which certainly isn’t ideal.

But Teddy Blueger instigates some Latvian-on-Latvian crime sending in a fairly routine (but nice) looking shot on his countryman of Merzlikins and it hits the back of the net. 7-1 Pens.

Columbus gets one back though, Murray steps out of the crease and has some miscommunication with Letang and next thing you know Gustav Nyquist puts it in the net for an anti-climatic 7-2 score.

And that will do it in a wild one.

Some Thoughts

  • Obviously the biggest deal leaving this game is the status of Malkin after taking an awkward looking fall and bump. Hopefully he’s all good and just was held out for precautionary measures, especially in a game the Pens were winning big. But it’s obviously never a good sign to lose a top player like that.
  • Bjugstad too, who left and didn’t return.
  • Great night for McCann to step up. Scored three points, tying a career high. And, I knocked him a lot over the off-season for not scoring a lot at 5v5 (with only three total goals there last season as a Penguin), but he scored two 5v5 goals tonight. That’s tremendous! Hopefully the Pens won’t need him as a center (i.e. Malkin comes back) but it looks awesome that he didn’t miss a beat plugging into that spot.
  • Overall though, the Pens scored seven goals and I would think three or four of them were ones you wouldn’t expect to see at the NHL level. First game in this league for Merzlikins. It showed.
  • Speaking of, good thing CBJ went with the unknown in Merzlikins instead of claiming Casey DeSmith on waivers, eh? I kinda thought DeSmith might have made a good option for them, especially given the history of Pens’ netminders who tend to end up in Columbus.
  • Great game for Hornqvist scoring two goals. The Pens have scored eight goals this season. Hornqvist has been in front of the net for three of them, and scored another from distance. A lot is made of his contract and his late season slump, but he’s been doing everything you want to see and more so far through two games in 2019-20.
  • Great night for the three new forwards. Dominik Kahun picked up an assist for his first career point as a Penguin. So too did Brandon Tanev. Galchenyuk notched two assists for his first two points in black and gold. Galchenyuk was the best of the bunch on his play to setup the McCann goal on the rush.
  • Matt Murray has probably been the best and most consistent Penguin through two games. Stopped 28 of 30 tonight. Has looked very solid, and the saves he made early (including again at 0-0 when the team gave up a chance on a power play) is almost forgotten, but shouldn’t be. Murray’s been pretty rock solid.
  • Sidney Crosby and dropping the gloves....Please Cap, let’s not. On one hand you love to see him engaged and sticking up. On the other hand, no reason for him to risk a broken hand or another head/neck injury by chuckin’ nucks. They pay a lot of money to other people to do those duties.
  • Speaking of, no one gives Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson more grief than this corner of the internet, so it’s only fair to give them a stick tap tonight and give them their due. They didn’t have any disasters (low bar to clear) but also JJ helped support the offense and they both put in some good work on the PK. EG had a 55% Corsi For night. Johnson was 50% even. That’s tremendous for them. It probably won’t last long until we’re having to hatchet them again, so a hearty congrats is only fair.
  • Finally, a happy 54th birthday Mario. You’re the only reason we’re all still here and we all know it.

Big win for the Pens who lit up probably a substandard goalie, but a win is a win. Hopefully Malkin’s injury status isn’t the real lasting story of this game. Pens next game is on Tuesday. Plenty more talk and analysis to be had here in the interim.