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Penguins Overcome Another Terrible Start; Crush CBJ 6-3

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Jason Zucker Merzlikins Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten really good at having terrible starts.

They’ve gotten pretty good at overcoming them, too.

They rallied from a positively wretched first period Saturday night to defeat Columbus, 6-3, at Nationwide Arena.

Sidney Crosby capped their comeback from a pair of two-goal deficits by scoring from just inside the right hash mark at 5:38 of the third to break a 3-3 tie.

It was the first road victory of the season for the Penguins, who are 4-0-1.

With Jake Guentzel unavailable because of an unspecified upper-body injury, Danton Heinen moved into his spot on left wing alongside Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust, while Brock McGinn stepped into Heinen’s place with Jeff Carter and Kasperi Kapanen on the third line.

Because Guentzel and Teddy Blueger could not play — and because the Penguins are barely under the NHL’s $82.5 million salary-cap ceiling — Mike Sullivan dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen. That meant Chad Ruhwedel, who has been the No. 7 defenseman, appeared in a game for the first time this season.

The Penguins had a miserable start to their 6-1 victory against Los Angeles Thursday — they were being outshot, 13-3, at one point — but still managed to have a three-goal lead at the first intermission.

They might have been even worse during the first 20 minutes against the Blue Jackets, and weren’t nearly as fortunate as they had been 48 hours earlier.

The Blue Jackets recorded the first 11 shots of the game, and only some excellent play by Tristan Jarry prevented them from putting the game out of reach during that period.

As it was, the Penguins somehow managed to survive everything except a pair of Kris Letang turnovers,

Boone Jenner gave Columbus a 1-0 lead at 7:13 after a Letang pass attempt caromed off the skate of Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau and went directly to Jenner, who was alone in front of the net.

The Penguins’ game actually stabilized a bit during the second half of the period, and they had a chance to pull even when they were awarded their second power play of the period at 17:48.

While Kent Johnson was serving a minor for slashing Brian Dumoulin, however, Letang banked a pass off the right-wing boards to … apparently, no one.

It skidded through center ice and into the Pittsburgh Penguins’ end, where Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic chased it down and beat Jarry on the glove side on a breakaway at 18:44.

Columbus finished the period with a 17-7 edge in shots, but the period wasn’t nearly as competitive as that stat suggests.

Archibald gave the Penguins a brief lift — and “brief” is the key word there — at 3:43 of the second, when he put a shot over goalie Elvis Merzlikin’s glove from inside the left circle for his first goal of the season.

Just 12 seconds later, however, Johnson was alone in front of the net and tossed a backhander by Jarry to restore the Blue Jackets’ two-goal advantage.

The Penguins didn’t wilt, however, and Jan Rutta got them back within a goal by beating Merzlikins with a slap shot from the right point at 10:04 for his second of the season.

Heinen then pulled them even at 14:19, sweeping in a shot from the right side of the crease for his second.

The Penguins’ surge continued into the third period, when Crosby put them in front for the first time.

He took a feed from Brian Dumoulin, who was at the left point, and beat Merzlikins for his third of the season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were taking charge at that point, and put the game out of reach as the third period was winding down. Heinen swiped in another shot from the right side of the crease at 14:07 and McGinn backhanded in a Kasperi Kapanen rebound 44 seconds later to put them ahead by three.

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Sk8r
Sk8r
1 month ago

Fourth Line is playing impressively, not just an “energy line”, rather a “productive line”

Last edited 1 month ago by Sk8r
Garrett Cooper
Garrett Cooper
1 month ago
Reply to  Sk8r

Anti-Dom Simon contributions.

Cal
Cal
1 month ago

Great win considering the crappy start and some “vintage” Letang. Can’t wait to take on McJesus!

Ken
Ken
1 month ago

Please know that the shorthanded goal is on rust even more so. It is his job to rotate to point there and not the slot. And it is also his job to know he is the last man back, so if a puck is out of reach, to take off after it. He had a mind fart and looked back like “who is going for that one”?.

Ethan
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken

Rust and Malkin both had kinda rough games. Which is somewhat strange as that line was the only intact offensive line for game though it seemed like Zucker was spotting in to the vacancy on 4th line a fair amount. Rust (or Zuck) is not what I would consider a “clinical” finisher like Jake or even Heinen–if so Geno would have 4 or 5 more assists this season. Can’t help but wonder if 71 gets frustrated by that from time to time.