Zherdev Adds His Team-Leading Fifth Assist
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Balastik and Brule Score For Columbus; Jackets Fall 7-2
Zherdev Adds His Team-Leading Fifth Assist

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Jaroslav Balastik continued his strong preseason with a goal and the Blue Jackets top pick in 2005 Gilbert Brule also scored, but the Penguins were too much for the young, undermanned Jackets, as they fell, 7-2 at Mellon Arena on Tuesday night.

Still recovering from a flu-like virus that infected most of the Blue Jackets’ roster, Columbus fell behind 3-0 early in the second period, on goals by Ric Jackman, Mario Lemieux and Ryan Malone.

But just 25 seconds after Malone’s goal, Nikolai Zherdev worked the puck along the boards and fired a pass in front of the net where Balastik scored his second goal of the preseason to cut the lead to 3-1. Peter Sarno and Zherdev earned assists on the play. For Zherdev, it was his team-leading fifth assist of the preseason.

The Penguins scored three more times in the second period for a 6-1 lead, when Tomas Popperle relieved Martin Prusek in the CBJ goal. Popperle shined in the net, stopping 11-of-12 shots, making many acrobatic saves.

In the shootout, Popperle stopped the Penguins first two shot attempts, denying both Mark Recchi and Sidney Crosby to bring his streak to seven consecutive shootout saves after stopping five-of-five against the Blackhawks on Sunday night. But the future Hall of Famer Lemieux finally solved the young netminder on Pittsburgh’s third and final attempt, as the Penguins prevailed in the shootout, 1-0.
Zherdev Adds His Team-Leading Fifth Assist
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