On Friday night, the Penguins followed up a win over one of the hottest teams in the NHL with a loss to one of the worst.
The Blue Jackets entered the season with a roster that looked like it would build on the team’s recent success. Columbus added Brandon Saad in the offseason, the former Pine-Richland hockey star who played a key role in the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup run last year.
Since then, the Jackets stumbled out of the gates. John Tortorella was hired to right the ship. Sergei Bobrovsky has been awful in net.
Unfortunately, Columbus brought its A-game to Consol Energy Center.
You have to think the Sidney Crosby of a few years ago would have feasted on a goalie who has struggled as much as Bobrovsky. Goalies shouldn’t be having bounce-back games against a team stacked with Crosby, Malkin and Kessel.
That’s particularly true considering the fact that the Pens had six powerplays in this game – and scored zero goals with the man advantage. Kevin Connauton gifted the Pens six minutes of powerplay all by himself.
In other news, Daniel Sprong played in this game, but you’re forgiven if you didn’t notice. He played a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him 5:39 in the game.
Brandon Dubinsky missed the game with an injury.
In terms of positives to take out of this game in preparation for the Pens’ trip to New Jersey on Saturday:
– The line of Bonino, Kunitz and Hornqvist has been very effective. This has to be one of the most talented third lines in the NHL.
– Kunitz was his best pesky self in this game.
– Hornqvist continues to be money, scoring the only Penguins goal and putting another one in the net (though he kicked it in).
Kessel started things off with a shot on Bobrovsky that made it look like the Pens might score some goals. Bobrovsky was forced to make a blocker save.
Crosby was flying in the Jackets’ zone, making a pass to Maatta, who put a shot on the net. Might have been a goal if Dupuis or Bennett could have touched it on the way in.
Despite the Penguins’ chances, the game remained 0-0 going into the second.
Brandon Saad facilitated the goal that broke the stalemate, beating Letang and Bonino to get a shot on Fleury. Fleury couldn’t control the rebound and he lost his stick in the process. Perennial Penguins-killer Scott Hartnell buried it.
Malkin took a penalty immediately after the goal, and it was Saad again making the Penguins pay. This time he did it himself, scoring on a backhand shot.
Malkin nearly redeemed himself with a wicked shot of his own that beat Bobrovsky and rang off the crossbar.
Jack Johnson came out with a near-miss of his own, ringing one off the post behind Fleury on a two-on-one.
Fleury made several strong saves to keep the Pens in striking distance. MAF continues to be the Pens’ best player.
With under a minute remaining, Hornqvist finally managed to put one home and make things interesting. Things got even more interesting with just 12 seconds to go, when Hornqvist put another one behind Bobrovsky. However, on review, it was clear that he had kicked the puck into the net.
The Penguins will look to bounce back against the Devils.