PENGUINS 5 | BLUE JACKETS 3
The Blue Jackets played a solid and manageable game through two periods at Nationwde Arena, but they did exactly what they did not want to do in the third period. They gave the Penguins their fair share of power play opportunities and it played a big role in turning the game around.
This was a 2-2 tie through 40 minutes and a pretty entertaining hockey game between two Metropolitan Division clubs, one of which (Columbus) anxiously looking forward to getting on the board in the season series with Pittsburgh. They gave themselves a chance and seemed to be in control when the game was 5-on-5, but the penalty trouble caught up with them in a hurry.
FINAL: PENGUINS 5 | BLUE JACKETS 3
Pittsburgh, top-three in the NHL on the power play, scored three times in the third period (two power play goals) and scored three times on the man advantage to pull away in a 5-3 win.
The Penguins have won four of the first five meetings of the season against Columbus and continue to add to their Metropolitan Division lead despite being ravaged by injuries.
And though this game eluded the Blue Jackets in the final 20 minutes, they (again) got the start they wanted.
Brandon Dubinsky cut to the inside on the Penguins' defense pair of Rob Scuderi and Robert Bortuzzo early in the first period, then whipped a backhander through the pads of Jeff Zatkoff for a 1-0 lead at 3:59. The lead, however, lasted less than a minute after the Penguins and Neal notched their first power play goal of the night at 4:55, with Corey Tropp in the box for tripping.
Speaking of Tropp, he provided the Jackets' biggest highlight of the night late in the second period.
Down 2-1, he took a sling pass from Boone Jenner just inside the blue line and dangled through Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta before sliding his second goal of the season under Zatkoff at 13:42 - sending the arena into a frenzy.
Pittsburgh was back on its heels after a rampant start to the third period by the Blue Jackets, who came out skating and firing pucks from every angle in search of the go-ahead goal. But Crosby's goal was a huge lift, the lead goal (3-2) at 10:51 of the third period and it really got the Penguins going. It was their first of three goals in the final nine minutes.
1. JAMES NEAL (PIT)
He had the hot stick right from the get-go tonight, snapping home a power play goal less than five minutes in and burying three of his five total shots on goal.
2. SIDNEY CROSBY (PIT)
Crosby's goal, No. 22 on the year for him, changed the game for Pittsburgh in the third period.
3. COREY TROPP (CBJ)
His second goal of the season - a no-doubt-about-it highlight reel tally - had the building buzzing in the second period. Tropp was again a source of energy for the Blue Jackets
AT COLORADO AVALANCHE
TUESDAY, 8 P.M.