Slow starts have been nothing new for the Penguins early in this season, and that continued on Saturday in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets carried the play early and scored two goals in the first period to jump out to a lead. It was a period to forget for Kris Letang, whose clearing effort from behind the net turned into a Boone Jenner CBJ goal to open the scoring.
Boone Jenner's forecheck game is strong. pic.twitter.com/oavbAyV4zc— NHL (@NHL) October 22, 2022
Columbus would make it 2-0 while short-handed. Letang banks the puck back off the boards to no one in particular and Jack Roslovic steps up to take the gift and beats Tristan Jarry on the breakaway.
Jack Roslovic (@JRoslovic96) flew solo for a shorty here. ✈️ pic.twitter.com/EWcDJoQiaN— NHL (@NHL) October 22, 2022
Early in the second the Pens would get on the board with Josh Archibald getting on scoresheet. The right handed shot would streak down the left wing and rip a shot yo and over Elvis Merzlikins to make it 2-1.
Have another look at Josh Archibald's tally which got Pittsburgh on the board in Columbus pic.twitter.com/vE0Y8xaeW3— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 23, 2022
Just 14 seconds later, Columbus would fire back with high draft pick Kent Johnson’s first career NHL goal to re-establish the two-goal lead.
You'll never forget this moment, Kent pic.twitter.com/vPCbpnVvCE— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 23, 2022
From here on out, party time was over for Columbus. The Pens would go onto score five straight goals to close out this game. Jan Rutta stayed hot with his second goal in as many games to get the party going.
Rutta absolutely BLASTED that puck straight in the net. pic.twitter.com/jF2QMrKVv0— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 23, 2022
Not long after, Danton Heinen would fill in for Jake Guentzel on the top lien and do him proud by posting up in front, waiting for the puck and burying it to tie the game at 3-3.
You know what they say...— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 23, 2022
Go to the net and good things will happen. pic.twitter.com/k8cdIzsTbg
In the third period, Sidney Crosby would deliver the go-ahead goal and what would stand as the game winning goal by one-t’ing a slapper.
THAT'S OUR CAPTAIN pic.twitter.com/WMRdqy7hD3— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 23, 2022
Heinen would provide insurance later on, with the left winger circling around to the right side of the ice, finding a gift and making no mistakes on the finish.
Going to the left of the goalie seemed to be working pretty well for Danton Heinen tonight! pic.twitter.com/PpLQqXVvXs— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 23, 2022
Brock McGinn would add his first goal of the year late, just for s’s and g’s to set the final at a 6-3 win for Pittsburgh.
—Another slow start for the Pens, but when they can find their groove and still put six on the board, well maybe the start doesn’t matter.
—Sucks to see Jake Guentzel miss a game after taking some head trauma last game. But the Pens didn’t miss him with Heinen playing so well. From the right side of the net Dancin Danton was drilling in pucks. Very Guentzel-esque for being in the right place at the right time.
—Not sure if the Pens had a bad first period or just Kris Letang had a bad first period. Same difference, I suppose but ooh boy, a couple mistakes ended up in the back of the net.
—The Pens had to play 11F and 7D and they used the extra defender in Chad Ruhwedel on defense. This made for some fun with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin double shifting and playing on the same line more often than normal. Not ideal to only have 11 forwards, but the Pens made the most of it and got some good looks.
Game one of the road trip is a success and the Pens start slow but find a way to finish strong, and in no small way because Crosby had three points late in the game and Heinen stepped up. All is well that ends well and Pittsburgh shrugged off a bad start to beat Columbus and keep their claim in first place in the division. Now they head west for the next game on Monday.