(PHN) — The Pittsburgh Penguins enjoy a challenge as much as they can’t avoid injuries. Friday morning streaky Penguins winger Bryan Rust, who has nine goals in 14 games was injured during the team morning skate when he crashed into the boards and did not play. Figuratively, the Penguins also crashed into the boards Friday night as they had only three shots on goal in the first period. Things didn’t get much better as the Penguins score reflected the poor effort. The Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Penguins 5-2 at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus winger Gustav Nyquist netted his second career hat trick with an empty netter. The Penguins three-game winning streak ended, as did their six-game point streak.
The Penguins turned to goalie Tristan Jarry in the number one goalie spot as the starter in the first of back-to-back games. However, it wasn’t a good first period for the Penguins, which attempted only three shots and got just one on goal in the first 17 minutes. Jarry yielded four goals on 29 shots.
Five minutes into the game, Columbus tied a franchise record when they scored the first goal for the 10th consecutive game.
“They were way better than us in the first period,” said winger Patric Hornqvist. “They kept that momentum, not for the whole game, but we were on our heels and it’s tough to comeback every single game.”
After Penguins winger Jake Guentzel failed to clear the zone, defenseman Zach Trotman couldn’t maintain possession, and Nyquist beat Trotman’s defense partner Marcus Pettersson at the front of the net. Oliver Bjorkstrand’s shot deflected off Gustav Nyquist near the crease.
Evgeni Malkin and Guentzel combined for a two-on-one late in the first period. Guentzel (15) settled Malkin’s deflected pass and poked it five-hole through Columbus goalie Jonas Koorpisalo.
However, the Penguins went downhill faster than Lindsey Vaughn after that.
On the first shift of the second period, Malkin made an awful turnover at his own blue line. Columbus captain Mike Foligno (3) burst into the Penguins zone on a breakaway and snapped a stickside wrister past Jarry.
“It was 1-1 after the first, then we gave them some easy goals,” Hornqvist said. “In the first period, they probably deserved that but it was 1-1 afterward. And if we can keep it in those games, it’s a whole other story.”
The Penguins penalty kill was the next to lick the stamp and mail it in. Columbus scored two more power-play goals in the second period. First, Nyquist spun off the wall towards the Penguins net. The Penguins left Nyquist (6) uncontested at the hashmarks as he shoveled a backhand past Jarry.
Later in the period, Foligno scored again. Penguins defender Jack Johnson blocked his initial shot but Foligno (4) got a second shot through traffic. It was 4-1 Columbus and that seemed merciful.
The Penguins threatened yet another comeback early in the third period. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang blasted a shot past Korpisalo with 15 minutes remaining. However, the Penguins didn’t threaten again until later in the third period. They were not able to get the third goal even with a later power play.
The Penguins evened the shot clock with Columbus but Koorpisalo stuffed 29 of 31 shots including a couple of sparkling saves in the third period to preserve the Columbus win.