With the Penguins leading the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 last night at PPG Paints Arena, they suddenly found themselves in an advantageous situation with numbers up ice and capitalized on it to open the scoring to 4-1. The floodgates continued to stay open afterwards, leading to a 7-2 win for the Penguins.
In this specific instance, the defense turned to offense very quickly off a missed shot, but the most beautiful part of this sequence was the incredulous backhand saucer pass from Alex Galchenyuk, that landed right on Jared McCann’s tape and ended up in the back of the net.
Have a look for yourself before we break it down bit by bit.
In just a few seconds, the puck goes from Zach Werenski’s stick in the Penguins defensive zone to the back of the Blue Jackets’ net.
Werenski lined up from a shot just outside the face-off circle, but with 3 Columbus players at/below the far red line, missing the net with the shot was perhaps the worst case scenario.
At this point, you can see the Penguins strength in numbers already.
The two Columbus defenders had to make a choice and commit to who they were going to stay on. Galchenyuk, as the puck carrier draws the focus of one defender, but his shift to the center and right side of the ice creates open space for Jared McCann, trailing to Galchenyuk’s left.
Things are being well defended by Columbus, as their defense pinched up on Galchenyuk to take away his time and space, and it looks like his only option is to try and keep the puck alive inside the zone to his right.
Not so fast though...
Galchenyuk keeps the puck on his backhand, and flips it over the Columbus defender’s stick, and lands it right on Jared McCann’s tape.
McCann just briefly corrals the puck long enough to freeze Elvis Merzlikins and fires the puck past his blocker side for a tremendous goal.
We’ve seen the Penguins early inefficiencies this season in terms of giving up odd-man rushes, but this was a master class in capitalizing on one.