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Penguins Close Out Season With 3-2 OT Loss



The Pittsburgh Penguins finished the 2022-23 season the same way they opened it.

Sort of.

As they had in the opener on Oct. 13, they took on a team that will sit out the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The difference this time was, Columbus beat them, 3-2, in overtime at Nationwide Arena. The Penguins had started the season with a convincing 6-2 victory over Arizona.

Johnny Gaudreau scored the season-ending goal one minute into overtime, when he got a breakaway and slid a backhander past Tristan Jarry.

The Penguins finished 2022-23 with a 40-31-11 record, good for 91 points, the fewest they have earned in a full season since getting 58 in 2005-06. Not coincidentally, that had been the most recent time they failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Until this season, of course.

Kris Letang scored the only goal in the opening period — his 12th of the season — during a power play at 4:28, when his wrist shot from the right point caromed off Columbus defenseman Andrew Peeke and past goaltender Michael Hutchinson.

Letang got his goal 16 seconds after Stanislav Svozil (yes, the Stanislav Svozil) was penalized for holding Jason Zucker. Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell got the assists.

Peeke put a puck in the other net at 2:12 of the second to tie the game, as he drove a shot over Jarry’s glove from above the right circle.

The Penguins’ power play, which let them down so many times over the course of the season, manufactured its second goal of the game at 3:53 of the third, as Jake Guentzel beat Hutchinson from the top of the left circle for his 36th.

Assists went to Letang and Crosby.

Emil Bemstrom forced overtime when he scored from the bottom of the left circle during a power play at 16:35 of the third period.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to hold their Breakup Day, which includes exit interviews and the final media availabilities of the season, Saturday.

Here are the Penguins’ leaders in a variety of statistical categories this season:

Points — Sidney Crosby, 93

Goals — Jake Guentzel, 36

Assists — Sidney Crosby, 60

Game-winning goals — Sidney Crosby, 9

Overtime goals — Kris Letang, 3

Shootout goals — Rickard Rakell, 2

Power play goals — Rickard Rakell, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, 11

Shorthanded goals — Ryan Poehling, Brock McGinn, 2

Empty-net goals — Jake Guentzel, 7

Shots — Sidney Crosby, 255

Plus/minus — P.O Joseph, +8, Sidney Crosby, +8

Penalty minutes — Evgeni Malkin, 82

Blocked shots — Brian Dumoulin, 142

Hits — Jason Zucker, 197

Games-played — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brian Dumoulin and Rickard Rakell, 82