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WOW: Penguins Climb Out of 4-0 Hole in 5-4 OT Win



Less than two weeks ago, the Penguins got blown out at home by one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the NHL.

That 7-2 loss to Edmonton seemed, at the time, to be the low point of their season.

And perhaps it was.


But for the better part of two periods Tuesday night, it looked if that was about to change because Columbus — yes, the same Columbus that’s anchored to the bottom of the overall standings — was embarrassing them at PPG Paints Arena.

The Blue Jackets had a 4-1 lead at the second intermission, and the game wasn’t as competitive as that score made it sound.

But the Penguins ran off three goals during the first four minutes of the third period to pull even and Sidney Crosby put an exclamation point on their comeback with a power-play goal at 2:45 of overtime by scoring on a slap shot from the right dot to give them a 5-4 victory.

It was just the ninth time in franchise history that the Penguins have won a game in which they trailed by four goals. They had not done that since Dec. 11, 2006 against Washington.

It also lifted them out of a 0-6-3 skid against Metropolitan Division opponents.

They still hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field, one point behind the New York Islanders and three ahead of Florida. They have played three fewer games than New York and have two games in hand on the Panthers.

Jake Guentzel began the Penguins’ third-period surge by beating Blue Jackets goalie Michael Hutchinson, who had entered the game after the first period, from the inner edge of the right circle just 21 seconds after play resumed.

Jason Zucker scored his second of the game from the top of the crease at 3:16 and Danton Heinen completed that burst by putting in a Rickard Rakell feed from close range at 3:59.

The Penguins killed an interference minor assessed to Drew O’Connor for a late hit at 12:29 to get the game to overtime.

They played without two top-nine forwards, Bryan Rust and Mikael Granlund. Rust’s wife had given birth and Granlund was ill.

That left them with just 11 forwards, even though Alexander Nylander was summoned from their farm team in Wilkes-Barre on emergency recall a few hours before the game. Consequently, they dressed seven defensemen.

Heinen replaced Rust at right wing on the No. 2 line, alongside Evgeni Malkin and Zucker. In Rust’s absence, the Penguins’ penalty-killing tandems were Nick Bonino-Josh Archibald and O’Connor-Jeff Carter.

Those shorthanded units were put to work early, as Penguins defenseman Jan Rutta was called for holding Blue Jackets winger Eric Robinson at 2:16 of the opening period.

Rutta didn’t have to serve the full two minutes, because Emil Bemstrom beat Tristan Jarry with a shot from the left circle at 4:02 to put Columbus up, 1-0.

And things went downhill quickly for the Penguins from there.

Fourth-line center Lane Pederson put in a rebound from the top of the crease at 7:54 and Patrik Laine scored from near the right hash at 10:11 to make it 3-0.

“I thought we self-destructed in the first period,” Mike Sullivan said.

He called a timeout after Laine scored, perhaps to remind his players that it was a 7:08 start.

The Penguins kept Columbus off the board for the balance of the period — not that that should be a noteworthy accomplishment — but the Blue Jackets struck again early in the second, when Liam Foudy beat Jarry from above the left dot at 2:37.

That means that every member of the fourth line of the team at the bottom of the league standings scored a goal in the first 22-plus minutes of play.

Foudy’s goal convinced Sullivan to replace Jarry, who stopped just eight of 12 shots, with Casey DeSmith.

That was the second goalie change in the span of a few minutes, because Hutchinson had replaced Columbus starter Elvis Merzlikins at the start of the second. The switch apparently was made because Merzlikins was ill, not because he was suffering from exhaustion after facing seven shots during the first period.

The Penguins finally broke through when Zucker threw a backhander past Hutchinson from the right side of the crease at 10:23 for his 20th of the season. Malkin and Nylander got the assists.

Laine was sent off for hooking at 16:08, but the Penguins never threatened while he was in the penalty box. In fact, presumably because of a stats-keeping adjustment by the off-ice officials, they actually went from 23 shots when the power play began to 22 when it was over.

At that point, it appeared that the game was all but officially over.

Turned out to be far from it.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to practice Wednesday at noon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex to prepare for their home game against the Islanders Thursday.

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Alan Smith
12 days ago

Great to be back home! Nice comeback! Columbus has a good future offensively! Take the two points and move on! Pens are never boring! Good game for the crowd to watch!

Mighty Quin
Mighty Quin
12 days ago

Have a lot of respect for DeSmith and the way he goes about his business. The guy has been set up for failure the last two years, what with not playing for long stretches or playing in the second of back-to-backs or being thrown into games on short notice. Yet he doesn’t bitch or complain but just cleans up the messes to the best of is ability. Hope he moves on to an organ-i-zation that appreciates him next season.

Last edited 12 days ago by Mighty Quin
ric jefferies
ric jefferies
12 days ago
Reply to  Mighty Quin

First class guy and good goalie, he’s a “keeper”.