The Columbus Blue Jackets were unable to hold onto a late two-goal lead and fell by a final score of 5-4 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Steel City.
Entering the third period things were looking up for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team held a 3-1 lead and Sydney Crosby was called for a tripping penalty less than a minute into the final period.
First, let’s look at what went right for the first 42 minutes.
Sonny Milano and Boone Jenner scored the first two goals of the game (both coming in the first period), with each player ending long goalless streaks.
Milano’s goal came at the 9:06 mark after a Seth Jones shot went off the boards right to Milano in front of the net. Milano cashed in and scored his first goal in the National Hockey League since October 21st.
Jenner’s goal came in transition at the 14:34 mark. The CBJ made a nice entry through the neutral zone as Jenner put the puck into the back of the net thanks in large part to a nice pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand. It was Jenner’s first goal since November 22nd.
In the second period the Pens cut the deficit to 2-1 at the 5:57 mark when Conor Sheary shot a puck that went off the stick of Seth Jones and got past Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Jackets, however, extended their lead to two goals once again at the 16:49 mark.
This time it was Artemi Panarin who beat Matt Murray. Panarin took long pass from Calvert at center ice, skated into the offensive zone, came to a complete halt and sniped the puck into the top-right corner.
Panarin scored twice against the Pens on Wednesday night. His second second goal came at the midway point of the third period to once again extend a Jackets lead to two goals (the goal made the score 4-2 at the time). Panarin has scored 10 goals this season—three of those have come against the Penguins.
Now to the part when the Penguins turned it up a notch:
As referenced in the title, the Penguins capitalized twice on the power play in the third period:
The first power-play goal came after a Matt Calvert hooking penalty—Nick Foligno missed the net on a shot in transition, which led to the Penguins getting a clean entry in transition, as a shot by Phil Kessel went off of Bobrovsky’s glove and trickled into the back of the net at the 3:34 mark to make the score 3-2.
(Between the first and second power-play goals was the aforementioned Panarin goal—his second of the game).
The second power-play goal came after a Seth Jones penalty for cross checking—Evgeni Malkin found some space right outside the blue paint and was able to tap the puck into the net to cut into the deficit and make the score 4-3. Malkin also scored on a power-play goal in the third period from their previous matchup just six days earlier.
At this point the CBJ had bent, but hadn’t broken as they still had a 4-3 lead entering the final five minutes of regulation.
It was the game-tying goal for the Penguins that stung most for the Jackets, as Jake Guentzel was left wide open in front of the net.
Defenseman Jack Johnson, who was on the ice for the goal that tied the score at four apiece, described what happened:
Too many guys floated on one side of the rink and we left a guy wide open on the back side.
Head Coach John Tortorella shared his thoughts on the same goal:
We end up with three guys behind the net…It’s obviously a bad coverage.
Defenseman Seth Jones summed up what happened in the third period from his point of view:
They (the Penguins) came hard—with a lot of pressure…I took a dumb penalty there with five minutes left, they capitalize…they get another one late. That’s what they’ll do to you [when] you give em’ opportunities.
Overtime was wild once again.
The Penguins thought they’d won the game, but had a goal called back due to goaltender interference. Jake Guentzel shortly thereafter was assessed a penalty for high sticking—however, the CBJ couldn’t manufacture much with the man advantage.
The shootout was a microcosm of of a CBJ fan’s worst nightmare, with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scoring, while the Jackets failed to get the puck past Murray even once.
John Tortorella was happy with some things he saw from his team and didn’t blame the young players for what happened in the end. It was the final goal of regulation that made a negative lasting impression as he summarized the game from his perspective:
We played well enough to win tonight, but we did not make the final plays of the game…It’s not youth. It’s not them…We blow a coverage, they score a goal.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be back at it on Friday night as they’ll head to Ottawa to face the Senators.
Sonny Milano had a telling quote that described what could be viewed as a silver lining from the game for his team:
We have to learn from it and just be better.