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New York Bound; Penguins Clinch 3rd Place with Wild Finale over CBJ

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Pittsburgh Penguins beat Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3

There was an obvious desire to end the first 82-game schedule since 2019 with a win. The Pittsburgh Penguins had clinched a playoff spot weeks ago. The only remaining logistical matter was packing for Game 1 against the New York Rangers or the President’s Trophy-winning Florida Panthers. The Penguins needed just a point to finish third in the Metro. They could have fluffed off the regular-season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets and rested their stars, but it was all hands on deck, including defacto starting goalie Casey DeSmith.

The game was not in doubt until a late Columbus rally pulled them within two goals, but the Penguins held on for a 5-3 win at PPG Paint Arena.

The Penguins quickly asserted themselves with some help from leaky Columbus goalie Jean-Francois Berube, who had issues in the first period.

The Penguins scored three times in the first six minutes, and Elvis Merzlikins replaced Berube.

Four minutes into the game, the Penguins worked the cycle at the top of the offensive zone. Evgeni Malkin circled the offensive zone and went to the net as Berube stopped Danton Heinen’s shot. Malkin (20) swept the rebound past the surprised goalie.

On Thursday, Sidney Crosby admitted he would try to smell the roses a little bit on what could be the last playoff run with 15-year teammates Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin, who are UFAs following the season.

Malkin led the Penguins with three shots and two points (1-1-2) in the first period.

The Penguins’ third goal arrived one minute after the second. Marcus Pettersson had one of the best periods in his Penguins career, including deking one defender on his way to the net (where he was given a phantom goalie interference call).

The Penguins again worked the high cycle, and Pettersson (2) beelined for the net and snapped a wrister past Berube.

Three goals in less than three minutes.

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their way for a bit in the second period before dominating the latter second period.

Kris Letang set a personal best with his 68th point of the season as the Penguins pinned Columbus in the defensive zone. Letang (10) sneaked into the slot and sniped a one-timer past Merzlikins as Columbus chased the puck in the corner.

Marcus Pettersson’s big night continued two minutes later as he walked the blue line like he had sequined slippers. Pettersson’s shot hit Boyle (11) at the net-front as Boyle laughed in celebration.

Pettersson had three points (1-2-3).

It doesn’t matter how just how many. It was an impressive cap to Boyle’s regular season after signing a PTO to appear in training camp because he was unemployed last season. The 36-year-old forward is also the Penguins Masteron nominee.

Evan Rodrigues was pushing hard for his 20th goal. He rang the crossbar in the first period. Tried the spin-o-rama in the second and had a glorious one-timer earlier in the third period.

Columbus center Justin Danforth scored the first Columbus goal midway through the second period. Casey DeSmith misplayed a puck behind the net before Danforth squeaked a wrister through the goalie from the high slot.

Columbus netter a power-play goal midway through the second period. After it was 5-1 and the Penguins got chippy, the PK left Oliver Bjorkstrand alone near the net. Bjorkstrand (27) easily beat DeSmith from 15 feet.

Things got a little bit interesting later in the third period. Columbus scored another power-play goal when Gustav Nyquist deflected a shot past DeSmith.

Jakub Voracek had an uncontested chance in front a few moments later, but DeSmith sprawled to make the save.

Malkin and Boyle had two points (1-1-2). Teddy Blueger had a pair of assists.

With some irony, the only Pittsburgh Penguins line not to score was the top line with Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust. Slackers.

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Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
16 days ago

Slackers maybe when was Crosby a real factor in the last 3 playoff series it was nice to see others getting their hands dirty also bring someone up from the minors Kapanen is pathetic

Wasnt
16 days ago

Hope Dumo is ok, that skate to the face looked bad. Desmith looked good and Geno was flying, Peterson was playing super confident and wouldn’t be surprised if Kap was a healthy scratch in the playoffs.
Pens can make any team sweat it’s just what Pens team will show up.
GO PENS!!

Uros
Uros
16 days ago

Well, I certainly hope they weren’t playing serious hockey and that we’ll see a completely different Pens team in the playoffs. I don’t really care about any of the offense, but I’m tired of seeing people deflecting pucks alone in the wilderness with no one but DeSmith watching them. The key to doing something next week is tightening up on D. Can they do it? I think they could, but we’ll see. Of course Dumo is essential and I hope he’s good to go come Tuesday.

Alan Smith
16 days ago

Let’s hope every playoff game the Pens are this ready to go! Think the team responds best when needed! Hard to win a Cup but no one appears that good! Salary cap has made the entire NHL equal in talent! Hope the league steps in to enforce the violent play that has ruled of late! Way to go Pens thanks for a great watch all season long! Go Pens!

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