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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 3 SO

Friday, 10.30.2009 / 11:23 PM / Features
By Jason Seidling
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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 3 SO
 
 
  
  
LINKS
QUICK ANALYSIS
As expected playing their first game without reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins had a tough time finding their game through the first 40 minutes. They were not generating the offensive-zone time head coach Dan Bylsma often preaches about, and took six minor penalties while getting acquainted with new line combinations.

Chris Kunitz personified the attitude of this courageous team when he stayed with a puck on a second-period breakaway despite being tripped to his knees. His one-handed shot was stopped by Steve Mason, but Sidney Crosby followed the play hard, stuck with the rebound of his ensuing miss, circled behind the net and found an uncovered Kunitz all alone at the left of the crease for the goal.

While the Penguins obviously want Sergei Gonchar to return to the lineup sooner rather than later, Alex Goligoski continues to shine in his absence. The second-year blueliner took a pass from Crosby at the center point and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Mason to tie the score, 3-3, with 2:17 to play. Goligoski’s ability to create an opening for himself, which he did again on that goal, and then unleash a shot with serious mustard behind it, is eerily similar to Gonchar’s ability.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The big pads circled the puck and Steve Mason thought he had it corralled. Then it started tumbling away, wobbling inches over the goal line.

Pittsburgh scored twice in the final three minutes of regulation to tie it and Sidney Crosby's shot barely crossed the line in the shootout to lift the Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Alex Goligoski celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal in the third period with 2:17 remaining.
(photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Brent Johnson
There are many reasons the Penguins made such a dramatic comeback tonight, not the least of which was the play of Johnson. He stopped 29 of 32 shots through the game in improving to 2-1 on the season. His ability to give the team 60 quality minutes affords them the chance to give Marc-Andre Fleury regular rest and still expect the two points while doing it.

What Could Have Gone Better: Discipline
Pittsburgh gave Columbus plenty of chances to put the game away after the Blue Jackets twice held two-goal leads, providing them with seven power-play opportunities, including six through the first 40 minutes. On the plus side, the Penguins were able to kill off six of those seven calls against themselves.
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
If he keeps this current pace, Chris Kunitz will continue to find his name soaring up the scoring charts. His second-period shorthanded goal got the Penguins on the board, and he teamed with Sidney Crosby to set up Alex Goligoski for the tying score with 2:17 to play in the third period. Kunitz now has two goals and four assists his past two contests.

As is usually the case nightly, Kunitz provided more than just points. His diving shot from his knees in the second period kept the play alive, allowing Crosby to find him for the score seconds later. Kunitz recorded season highs in ice time (19:25) and shots (5), while contributing three hits.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
Rick Nash made a sensational play to get Columbus on the board first late in the opening period during a power play. His original wraparound shot was denied by Brent Johnson, but Nash stayed in the slot and buried the rebound of a Derick Brassard shot from his knees. Columbus 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Nash struck again at the 14:23 mark of the second period. This time he stood all alone in the right-side faceoff circle and waited for Antoine Vermette to deliver a pass from behind the net. When that pass came, he one-timed it past the stick of Johnson. Columbus 2, Pittsburgh 0.

The Penguins cut the lead in half on a spectacular shorthanded effort by Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby. Kunitz began the play with a diving, one-handed shot. Crosby’s rebound was stopped Mason but he stuck with the puck, circled behind the net and found Kunitz all alone in front for the score. Columbus 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Columbus re-gained their two-goal lead on a great setup from Samuel Pahlsson, who had just exited the penalty box, to Derek Dorsett, who went forehand-to-backhand on Johnson for the goal. Columbus 3, Pittsburgh 1.

Pittsburgh took advantage of a great bounce off the end boards to get back into the game. Martin Skoula’s one-timer from the right point missed the net to the left of Mason, but ricochet right to the stick of Ruslan Fedotenko, who delivered the puck into a wide-open cage thanks to traffic on Mason from Jordan Staal. Columbus 3, Pittsburgh 2.

Alex Goligoski sent the game into overtime by scoring 39 seconds after Fedotenko’s goal with a powerful wrist shot that beat Mason high to the glove side. He was set up on the play by a beautiful backhand pass from Crosby. Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 3.

Sidney Crosby played hero for the Penguins in the shootout once again, as he tried going to the five-hole of Mason. The Columbus netminder got a piece of the shot, but the puck had eyes and scooted over the line before Mason could knock it out. Kris Letang hit the post for the Penguins while Vermette and Nash each missed the net, and Kristian Huselius was stopped by the glove of Johnson. Penguins 4, Columbus 3.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
Recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Thursday night, speedy winger Chris Conner created plenty of chances in his Pittsburgh debut. Credited with one shot on goal, Conner set plays up quite a few times in the offensive end during his 11:08 of ice time.

A one-time Blue Jacket for 39 games during the 2005-06 campaign, forward and Cleveland native Mike Rupp had a solid game in his home state. Although he did not record a point, Rupp was a presence in a variety of other ways, leading the team with a season-high eight hits and firing three shots on goal, also a season high.  

With Evgeni Malkin sidelined the next couple weeks with a bum shoulder and Sergei Gonchar already out of the lineup, the Penguins were forced to adjust their top power-play unit for the second time in as many weeks. Sidney Crosby moved from the goal-line to the half-wall where Malkin was usually employed. Chris Kunitz was inserted into the spot vacated down low. Pittsburgh went 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.

Last season the Penguins were arguably the best team in the NHL at coming back from second-period deficits, finishing with 10 victories in those situations. Friday night’s victory over the Blue Jackets gave the Penguins three such victories in ’09-10, including two in six road games. Pittsburgh came back to defeat the New York Islanders on Oct. 3 in Long Island, and the Florida Panthers at Mellon Arena on Oct. 23, each time in a shootout.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Scoring Summary:
CLM, R. Nash PP (7), 18:13 1st period: Blue Jackets 1, Penguins 0
CLM, R. Nash (8), 5:37 2nd period: Blue Jackets 2, Penguins 0
PIT, C, Kunitz SH (2), 11:55 2nd period: Blue Jackets 2, Penguins 1
CLM, D. Dorsett (1), 17:50 2nd period: Blue Jackets 3, Penguins 1
PIT, R. Fedotenko (3), 17:04 3rd period: Blue Jackets 3, Penguins 2
PIT, A. Goligoski (5), 17:43 3rd period: Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 3
SO, (S. Crosby), Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 3

> The Penguins’ 4-3 shootout victory over the Blue Jackets gives them a 6-0 record away from Mellon Arena, extending their team record for most consecutive road victories at the beginning of a season.

> The Penguins are now 11-2 in the month of October, extending their team record for victories in the season’s first month to 11. They will have a chance tomorrow to extend that mark to 12, as the game versus the Minnesota Wild will be the final contest of October.

> Pittsburgh returns home tomorrow night to face Minnesota at Mellon Arena for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff. This marks the fourth set of back-to-back games in the season’s opening month. The Penguins thus far are 2-1 in second games of back-to-back contests.

> With their win over Columbus, the Penguins improved to 3-1 in the first game of back-to-backs.

> The Penguins are now 29-5-4 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 14-2-3 away from Mellon Arena.

> The Penguins improved to 3-2 all time when they play without Evgeni Malkin, who missed his first game since Oct. 14, 2006.

> Sidney Crosby’s shootout-deciding score was his second of the season, giving him the league lead in that category prior to the conclusion of Friday night’s late games. Crosby is also a perfect 4-for-4 in shootouts in ’09-10.

> With his two assists, Crosby extended his season-high points streak to six games. He has 13 points (5G-8A) during the streak.

> With his plus-2 rating, Crosby moved into second place on the league-leader list at plus-11 for the season, ranking him behind only teammate Alex Goligoski through Friday’s early games.

> Goligoski extended his points streak to seven games with his third-period game-tying goal. During the stretch Goligoski has recorded eight points (4G-4A).

> Goligoski’s goal gives him 12 points on the season (4G-7A), most by any Penguins’ defenseman, tying him for third among defensemen through Friday’s early games.
    
> Goligoski was impressive at both ends of the rink yet again, finishing a plus-2 to increase his league lead in that category to plus-13.

> Playing in his 250th NHL game, Brent Johnson improved to 2-1 on the season, 2-0 in shootouts. Johnson is now 10-2-2 all time against the Blue Jackets.

> Bill Guerin played in his 1,198th career game against the Blue Jackets, leaving him two shy of 1,200 for his career. Barring injury, Guerin should reach this mark when the Penguins visit Anaheim on Nov. 3.

> Defensemen Martin Skoula picked up his first point with the Penguins when he assisted on Ruslan Fedotenko’s third-period goal.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1.R. Nash
2.C. Kunitz
3.S. Crosby
“We have had some good games and shown some character coming back in games.”
- Chris Kunitz on road success
 

 



Author: Jason Seidling

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