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Penguins Locker Room: What Changed After 1st Period in 4-1 Win?



Teddy Blueger, Pittsburgh Penguins Locker Room

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who were battling illnesses in the locker room, beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1, but they began the first period as if they were under the influence of some heavy cold medicine.

The Penguins trailed, 1-0, and Columbus clearly had the better of play, with nearly twice as many shot attempts and nearly all of the high-danger scoring chances.

As the puck dropped for the second period, the Penguins, which recently have dominated good opponents, appeared.


The Penguins scored three in the second period and basically put away Columbus by the 40-minute mark. The Penguins’ second line with Jason Zucker, Evgeni Malkin, and Bryan Rust was the spark.

They scored the first goal by crashing the net. Rust, who had four points Saturday, had two more points Tuesday, and the team immediately picked up the pace.

Rust was mired in an extended slump before the last two games. The line had only one point in the previous six games before exploding for 10 combined points Saturday.

Playing on my toes. Our line is playing well. (I’m) seeing the ice a little bit better. A little confidence helps,” Rust said.


So what changed after the first period? A tweak? An invigorating intermission “talk” from the coach?

“We just played the right way. I think we talked about before the game that (Columbus) was dangerous off the rush,” defenseman Marcus Pettersson said. “In the second and third, we didn’t give them a lot. We stayed above (the puck). They had to go through at least three or four of us every time they came through the neutral zone.”


Penguins center Teddy Blueger finally got his first goal of the season. He missed on the penalty shot — and he was kicking himself just a bit after the game for that missed chance — but he scored an empty-netter past a diving Elvis Merzlikins, who didn’t get off the ice before he saw the Penguins racing toward the offensive zone.

Blueger and Merzlikins are fellow Latvians and played against each other growing up, a fact that didn’t make missing the penalty shot any easier to take.

“It felt great (to get the goal), obviously. As much as you try not to think of it, it is in the back of your mind a little bit, especially the first one,” Blueger said. “And yeah, it’s frustrating, obviously, to have that chance on the penalty shot and kind of waste it. I think I’ll sleep better tonight after getting the last one.”


Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry has been on a tear. He further raised his save percentage, which was already at .915, to .919 with his 38-save performance.

Jarry made a few sparkling stops in the first period before settling in behind the Penguins’ improved performance. He credited the team for clearing his sightlines.

“I think the guys are just playing a great game. They’re playing a good team game, and I think we’re all on the same page right now,” said Jarry. “It’s easy when the game’s like that and we’re all working together. When we’re a group of six out there, I think it helps everyone out. It helps us get to the zone and I think it helps us stay in offensive zone longer.”