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game recap

Penguins score seven in win against Blue Jackets; Malkin injured

McCann has two goals, assist, Murray makes 28 saves for Pittsburgh

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

McCann strikes on three-on-one

CBJ@PIT: McCann converts on odd-man rush

Jared McCann carries the puck on a three-on-one rush and whips home a shot from the circle, taking a 3-1 lead midway through the 2nd

  • 00:55 •

PITTSBURGH -- Jared McCann scored twice and had an assist in a five-goal second period for the Pittsburgh Penguins, helping them defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

Patric Hornqvist had two goals and Matt Murray made 28 saves for Pittsburgh's eighth straight win at home against Columbus. The Penguins have not lost to the Blue Jackets in Pittsburgh since Nov. 13, 2015, and are 16-4-0 at home all-time against Columbus.

"It took us a while to find our swagger," McCann said. "It's something that this team, I feel like, needs to play with. We've got guys that have so much skill and need to make plays. But sometimes you just have to keep it simple and get it in."

 

[WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Penguins highlights]

 

Penguins centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad each left with an apparent injury. Malkin did not return after tripping over Kris Letang and tumbling into the boards midway through the second period, and Bjugstad exited early in the third.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin and Bjugstad were being evaluated. An update is not expected until after the Penguins practice Monday.

In his first NHL start, Elvis Merzlikins made 33 saves for the Blue Jackets, who lost their season-opening back-to-back by the combined score of 11-3.

"I thought [Merzlikins] was right there," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "But it's an unforgiving league. It's a good lesson for him. We knew there were going to be lessons like this for us and the most important thing now is how we handle it.

"So it's an opportunity for us right away at the beginning of this year to teach about patience, to teach about how we have to play. Hopefully we'll go about it the right way."

Hornqvist gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 1:45 at the second by deflecting a shot from Jack Johnson over Merzlikins' blocker.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Hornqvist tips home Johnson's point drive

Marcus Pettersson made it 2-0 on a snap shot at 4:14.

After Zach Werenski cut it to 2-1 with a snap shot at 6:45, McCann extended the lead to 3-1 on a 2-on-1 at 8:45.

McCann, who was third-line left wing before moving to second-line center in place of Malkin, scored again on a wrist shot at 15:23 to make it 4-1. He had three points (two goals, one assist) for the first time since March 20, 2018, when he also had three (one goal, two assists) for the Florida Panthers.

A power-play goal from Letang with two seconds left in the second pushed the lead to 5-1.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Letang nets PPG on sizzling blast

Hornqvist made it 6-1 at 9:50 of the third period before Teddy Blueger extended it to 7-1 at 11:58.

"Just keep it simple," Hornqvist said. "Don't overthink it. Play the right way and play your game. ... We bring different things to the table. I know what I'm good at and that's what I'm going to try to do every single night."

Gustav Nyquist cut it to 7-2 with 5:41 remaining, his first goal for Columbus after signing a four-year contract July 1.

 

They said it

"You can just see us. We're almost overanxious. Our patience is getting away from us right now. It's costing us. It has to be rectified. We're doing so many good things throughout the game that are being negated by just some poor decisions because we don't want to do the necessary thing at that moment. Sometimes it's not the prettiest thing. Sometimes it's not the easiest thing, but it's the right thing to do." -- Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno

"I've talked a lot [about] that you can never have enough centers in your lineup. Tonight was an example why. We ended up down two centers with a significant amount of the game left. To have the ability to just move guys in and it's their natural position, it really helps. I thought Jared McCann had his best game tonight when we put him in the middle. So that versatility certainly really helps." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

Video: CBJ@PIT: Galchenyuk sets up McCann's second goal

 

Need to know

Merzlikins started after Joonas Korpisalo made 25 saves in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. ... Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson was held to two shots after scoring four goals in four games against the Penguins last season. ... Penguins forward Dominik Simon moved to first-line right wing to replace Hornqvist, who played third-line right wing Thursday. ... Forward Alex Galchenyuk, acquired by the Penguins in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on June 30, had two assists. … Pettersson joined Justin Schultz on a defense pair after Johnson played with Schultz on Thursday. Johnson was paired with Erik Gudbranson on Saturday. ... Malkin's nine-game point streak against Columbus ended. He had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) during that stretch. ... With two assists, Sidney Crosby passed Larry Murphy and tied Jean Beliveau for 41st place on the NHL's all-time points list with 1,219 (446 goals, 773 assists) in 945 games.

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Monday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-O, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Penguins: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, TSN3, NHL.TV)

Video: Hornqvist, McCann score twice in rout of Blue Jackets

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