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Penguins Domination: Kessel Scores, Pens Thump Columbus 3-0

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Phil Kessel Goal Celebration
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 07: Pittsburgh Penguins Right Wing Phil Kessel (81) celebrates his goal with the Pittsburgh Penguins Right Wing Jake Guentzel (59) on the bench during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 7, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

PITTSBURGH — Phil Kessel finally scored and the Pittsburgh Penguins defensive effort was impenetrable. The Penguins earned points in their sixth consecutive game and third straight win as they dominated the

. The game started friendly enough. Newly acquired Columbus Blue Jackets top center Matt Duchene glided over to check on Penguins third line center Nick Bjugstad who was tripped awkwardly near the wall. From there, emotions rose and there was no more concern for the health of others.

Poor Phil Kessel. The two-time Stanley Cup champion and American hero has been stymied time and again for 16 games. He stopped shooting. He flooded the net with shots. Nothing worked, until Thursday night.

Two minutes into the game, as Columbus defenseman Scott Harrington served two minutes for tripping Bjugstad, Kessel finally got a bit of puck luck. After a scramble around the Columbus net, Kessel (2) shoveled the puck into the crease. It deflected off sprawled Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo and trickled across the goal line.

They don’t have to be pretty. They puck just has to cross the line. Kessel was all smiles as teammates roughed him up on the bench and the PPG Paints Arena crowd gave him a standing ovation.

The Penguins defended more than pressured Columbus in the second period, but it was the Penguins who again lit the lamp. In the final minutes of the second period, the Bjugstad line with Jared McCann and Patric Hornqvist pinned Columbus deep in the zone. Bjugstad spun away from a defender in the slot and had a clean look through traffic. Bjugstad (9) snapped it five-hole through Korpisalo.

The Penguins also counter-attacked far more effectively than Columbus attacked. Evgeni Malkin had a breakaway and Jake Guentzel had a pair of great chances.

Sidenote–The goal also meant Bjugstad became the Penguins all-time leader in goals scored by a Bjugstad. His uncle Scott played 24 games for the Penguins in 1988-89 and scored three goals.

The Penguins suffocated Columbus in the third period. It was nearly 11 minutes into the third period before Columbus had it’s first shot on goal. Penguins goalie Matt Murray made 25 saves including a couple of sparklers late in the game for the shutout.

Sidney Crosby added the empty net goal. He too has scored in six straight games.

The Penguins solidified their playoff position. They now have a four-point lead on Columbus, which is the first team out of the playoffs.

–MORE FROM THE PENGUINS LOCKER ROOM COMING UP–

 

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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BIG B
BIG B
2 years ago

Jack with another great game now only minus -2 and a plus 15 since he started with a minus 13.Dan called it This is why you get your info here.Great game for Guddy and look how bad the Nuucks are playing since the trade.Now if we beat the Jackets saturday the playoff are looking almost a certainty.

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago

What’s more stunning — 1) Kessel scoring a goal, or 2) Kessel blocking a shot, or 3) Kessel scoring a goal AND blocking a shot in the same game? #HadToBeThere

Il'ja
2 years ago

A watershed game on so many levels, but particularly the toppling of the Bjugstad Scoring Award: one of those titles you think will never be bested.

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