PENGUINS 4 | BLUE JACKETS 2
CONSOL ENERGY CENTER
PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins didn't need much time to pull away from the Blue Jackets. In fact, all they needed was five shots on goal.
Brandon Sutter, Kris Letang and rookie Jayson Megna scored three goals in a span of 4:24, turning a 1-0 game through 20 minutes into a one-sided affair in the blink of an eye. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 13 shots and was pulled in favor of Curtis McElhinney at 3:01 of the second period - but Megna scored on the Penguins' first attempt at McElhinney to make it 4-0.
PENGUINS 4 | BLUE JACKETS 2
The Blue Jackets started the game well, limiting the Penguins' chances in transition and yielding just a power play goal to Chris Kunitz that opened the scoring at 7:11 of the first period. Columbus registered 16 of the first 25 shots of the game, testing Marc-Andre Fleury from all angles but the Pittsburgh goaltender was up to the task. They were physical, too, finishing checks and keeping the pace up, which allowed them to sustain attack time in the Penguins' end of the rink.
But you just can't gift the Penguins any freebies, and they were the recipients of some Jackets turnovers early in the second period. The puck appeared to go into the Columbus bench just prior to Sutter's goal, but the ensuring wrist shot beat Bobrovsky far-side - and the Penguins added another on the power play moments later.
And while the score was heavily in favor of the Penguins, the Blue Jackets gave themselves a chance to get back into the game.
After 40 minutes of play, Columbus had taken 27 shots on goal - more than the Penguins had been yielded on average per game this season. Fleury, who has been under fire at times in Pittsburgh, was sharp from the get-go and gave the Penguins a steady hand between the pipes.
This game turned on its axis when the Penguins potted three quick goals in the second period. Only trailing 1-0 at the time, the Blue Jackets were right in it and had their share of chances and weren't able to beat Fleury. All it took was four-plus minutes to make it a commanding four-goal lead for the Penguins.
1. EVGENI MALKIN (PIT)
We didn't hear much from Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tonight, but Malkin was a difference-maker for the home team. He picked up a pair of assists and was Pittsburgh's best forward in the game, and could have had a couple of goals himself.
2. MARC-ANDRE FLEURY (PIT)
Fleury was the difference in the game, according to Jackets coach Todd Richards. He made 37 saves, a total that included a few 10-bell stops in the first period. If not for their goaltender, the Penguins might have been looking at a different outcome tonight.
3. JAYSON MEGNA (PIT)
Megna has filled in well for the Penguins and provided energy since his recall from Wilkes-Barre (AHL), but tonight, he chipped in his second NHL goal on a nice cross-crease pass by Jussi Jokinen. His tally proved to be an insurance marker for Pittsburgh.
vs. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.