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Pens/Columbus Recap: Crosby’s hat trick pushes Pens to fifth straight win

Sidney Crosby has a four-point night, Erik Karlsson makes two big plays in the third and the Penguins pull away from Columbus 5-3

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Aaron Doster/NHLI via Getty Images

Pregame

Same lineup as last game for the Penguins.

First period

The opening goal of the game has been Sidney Crosby’s time to shine lately, so the captain keeps on shining. He fires from the side of the net and the puck finds enough room to sneak in between Elvis Merzlikins and the post. Pens open up a 1-0 lead 4:10 into the proceedings.

Kirill Marchenko nearly goes coast to coast, skating the puck all the way from his own blueline in to the Pittsburgh zone. He dips, dodges, ducks around Ryan Shea before dangling to the backhand and deposits the puck to the net. 1-1 game on a nice display of skill for Marchenko.

In the last minute of the period, Columbus capitalizes on an innocent enough looking chance. Yegor Chinakhov pulls up on the right wing and fires a shot that eludes Tristan Jarry in part due to the net presence of Boone Jenner.

Shots are 12-6 Pens, who played alright but find themselves down by a shot early.

Second period

Crosby and Jake Guentzel get to work in the o-zone and create another goal. After Guentzel chunks a tip chance, Crosby wins the puck back and feeds Vinnie Hinostroza in the middle. He gets tied up but Guentzel is following the play and able to poke it in the net to tie the game.

The Pens take two minors in the second half of the period, to bring the PP total to 3-0 after a CBJ first period power play. Mike Sullivan is very not pleased with the two second period calls being fairly ticky-tack and going only one way. Pittsburgh’s PK takes care of it though.

Shots are 13-12 CBJ in the second period and the game is back to even for the final period.

Third period

With the penalties being uneven, wouldn’t you know it, Columbus gets rung up for a pretty weak offensive zone infraction to finally send Pittsburgh to their power play of the night. Nothing comes of it,

Thanks partially to the power play, the Pens out-shoot CBJ 11-2 to start the third period. That 11th shot is Erik Karlsson blasting a shot from way out deep on the left side from a beautiful cross-ice pass by Evgeni Malkin to put Pittsburgh back out to the lead at 3-2 with 11:20 to go.

Columbus answers back with 8:15 to go. Sean Kuraly’s rebound goes to Alexandre Texier sitting unmarked on the doorstep. Bad idea, he’s able to slam it home and tie the game.

The very next shift, Radim Zohorna goes swooping in and trips a Blue Jacket. Jarry and the ever-steady PK take care of those two minutes. Immediately after the penalty expires, the Pens are right back on their front foot. Karlsson got the puck at the point, found the open stick of Crosby and gave him a re-directable shot/pass that Crosby put to the top shelf. 4-3 lead back to the Pens with 5:32 to play.

Columbus lifts their goalie with 90 seconds to go. Crosby pounces on a loose puck and completes his hat trick to finish the game off at 5-3.

Some thoughts

  • The last minute first period goal surrendered by the Penguins meant it was only the second time all season (14 games) that the Pens have found themselves trailing in a game after the first period (joining the October 28th loss to Ottawa). Pittsburgh had out-scored opponents by a total of 12-6 in first periods prior to tonight before giving up a pair of early goals to Columbus.
  • Piggy backing off the above note, Crosby’s game-opening goal was the Pens’ 11th in 14 games. That’s a good way to start off strong and (usually) not be behind at the first intermission to make a habit of striking first.
  • Pittsburgh has been bleeding Karlsson shifts over to shield Chad Ruhwedel a bit lately. But the impromptu Shea-Karlsson pair was on the ice for the first two goals against. It’ll be interesting to see if that personnel usage continues if they keep getting caught out for goals against.
  • As the close game went on, the bench gotten shortened quickly on the backend to the top-4: Shea/Ruhwedel played two shifts for a total of 51 seconds in the third. Ruhwedel jumped on for some PK action, but otherwise Pittsburgh rolled with just the main two pairs late.
  • The big boys kept their point streaks going; Crosby is up to nine games in a row and Karlsson is at six. Both had multi-point games and in emphatic fashion. The game is looking mighty slow (in a good way) for Karlsson operating in the offensive zone. That goal and assist in the third period is exactly why a teams goes out and gets him.
  • The Penguins aren’t getting many power plays (and then doing little when they get the opportunities) but fortunately for them their PK is picking up the slack. Killed all four penalties and up to 12 in a row overall. There wouldn’t be a winning streak without that.

Five wins in a row and quite the momentum building now for the Pens, who will need all of that and more with the upcoming schedule full of tough opponents.