The Blue Jackets earned a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh in front of a large, loud crowd Friday night in Nationwide Arena.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus looked dominant for the first 35 minutes, totally controlling the first period and adding three goals in the second to take a 4-1 lead. Pittsburgh pushed in the third but Gustav Nyquist completed his hat trick in the final minute with the Jackets' first empty-net goal of the year to ice the victory.
Video: Nyquist lifts Blue Jackets to victory with hat trick
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "We played good for a lot of the game. It was one of our better periods to start the game."
- Nyquist's hat trick, the second of his career, gave him his first three goals in Nationwide Arena as a Blue Jacket and upped his season total to seven.
- Nick Foligno scored twice as well, giving the captain three goals in the last two games.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand extended his point streak to six games (2-7-9) with an assist on Nyquist's goal. THe six-game streak ties a career high set last March/April.
Columbus came out flying and needed just 5:21 to take the lead. A strong forecheck forced a turnover and Bjorkstrand took the puck and curled into the high slot from the left, then fired a shot that hit Nyquist in the back end and deflected past goalie Tristan Jarry to make it 1-0.
The Blue Jackets pushed to add to the lead and ended the first period with a 22-4 edge in shot attempts, and yet the score was tied after 20 minutes. The Pens broke out of the zone on a 2-on-1, and Evgeni Malkin flipped the puck over to Jake Guentzel all alone in front with time to pick apart Joonas Korpisalo, and he did just that as he fired home through the legs with 2:03 to go in the period.
But any thought that goal might give the Penguins energy going into the second was wiped away by Foligno just 26 seconds into the period. The CBJ captain poked the puck away from Malkin at the blue line, came in alone and fired past Murray's blocker to make it 2-1.
PHOTO GALLERY: CBJ 5, PIT 2
Josh Anderson had a great look in front moments later, though Jarry made the save it led to a power play and the Blue Jackets made it 3-1. Taking a slick pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nyquist worked into the slot from the left side and fired a backhander far side past Jarry at 2:52 to double the lead.
Columbus had some other chances later - a 4-on-1 went begging when Zach Werenski fanned on Sonny Milano's return pass - and Pittsburgh also started to turn on its game, but Korpisalo stood strong with 15 saves in the period, including great stops in succession on Dominik Simon and Kris Letang.
But moments later Guentzel took a hooking call in the Pens' offensive zone, and Columbus made it 4-1 on the ensuing power play. A shot from the right point was blocked, but Foligno corralled it in the right circle, spun and fired home at 15:09.
The Penguins drew one back at 5:20 of the third as Letang tallied to make it 4-2. He took a feed at the right dot from Guentzel and unleashed a one-timer that went off the post and in, far side, past Korpisalo.
Malkin nearly made it a 4-3 game near the midway point of the third with a fantastic redirection as he cut to the net, but Korpisalo stretched out and got his left toe on the tip in front to send it wide.
Pittsburgh also had a pair of power plays in the last 10 minutes but couldn't score, and Nyquist came out of the box on the latter to slide the puck into the empty net with 58.2 seconds to go to complete the hat trick.
Video: PIT@CBJ: Nyquist collects loose puck, pots ENG
1. The first thing that has to stand out is just how much jump the Blue Jackets had in the early going. The first period -- and even into the early minutes of the second -- was simply one-way traffic, with Columbus holding a 30-5 edge in shot attempts at one point. "First period was great," Nyquist said. "It's probably one of our better periods we've played. Came out with a lot of energy and played good minutes throughout." While Columbus leveled out and Pittsburgh ended up having a 31-30 edge in shots on goal, the early dominance allowed Columbus to have one of its few comfortable wins of the year; in fact, it was the only time this year the CBJ held a multi-goal lead through the entire third period.
2. Of course, the Penguins did have their push, but two things saved the Jackets once they stopped controlling the puck. First, the team's penalty kill was aces down the stretch, even gaining momentum in the final 10 minutes with strong play. But more importantly, the Jackets just didn't really let the Pens get to the middle of the ice, limiting shots from the front of the net and the slot. That was crucial against one of the NHL's more dangerous teams. "They got some chances, but I think we did a good job for the most part of limiting those and keeping them to the outside," Werenski said. "Korpi saw a lot of shots tonight, and he's going to save those."
3. That was fun, wasn't it? From the booming crowd in Nationwide -- curiously bereft of the black and gold that have so often marked these clashes -- to the fact the CBJ never trailed to the physical play, there was a ton of energy in the building. There are some who debate whether this is a true rivalry -- stay tuned for more on that later this weekend -- but it sure felt like a bitter clash, and the Blue Jackets seemed to feed of that energy. "It just gets everybody into it," Foligno said of the physical play and intensity. "You can see everybody was engaged, and it makes for fun hockey and exciting hockey. I think it got our game going."
Korpisalo won for the fifth time in six starts, finishing with 29 saves. He has a .919 save percentage in his last 10 appearances. ... Columbus was 2-for-4 on the power play while Pittsburgh was 0-for-4. Columbus is 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) on the power play over the past five games. ... Werenski earned his 100th career assist with the secondary helper on Nyquist's second-period goal, and he has 3-7-10 in the last nine games. … Columbus scored first for the 10th straight game, tying a franchise record, and improved to 11-3-1 when tallying the first goal. … Nyquist has four goals in two games vs. Pittsburgh this season. … The Blue Jackets have won five of the last six at home. … Malkin had two assists, giving him 4-10-14 in his last seven games and 32 points in 26 career games vs. Columbus. ... Columbus is 7-3-1 in its last 11 home games vs. Pittsburgh.
The Blue Jackets returned Riley Nash to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for four games. He replaced Eric Robinson, who was scratched along with defenseman Scott Harrington.
The Blue Jackets head to Long Island to take on the New York Islanders in Barlcays Center tomorrow night at 7 p.m.