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3 Impressions: Blue Jackets 2, Penguins 1

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Michelle Crechiolo of @PensInsideScoop gives her three impressions of tonight's game against Columbus.

After converting on the man-advantage in five straight games, the Pens have cooled off in that area of the game – going 0-for-4 on Wednesday vs. Montreal and dismal 0-for-6 tonight against Columbus. And not only did the Pens struggle to get anything going; they allowed more chances than they created. In their final power play of the game, the Pens gave up a 2-on-0 rush that Fleury made an incredible split-pad save on to keep Brandon Saad from finding the back of the net. I think the biggest reason for that was the Jackets’ aggressive style of penalty killing, which gave the Pens a lot of trouble. The Jackets like to apply a lot of pressure at both ends of the ice, and the Pens didn’t deal well with that.

Overall, the Pens got outworked. Plain and simple. The Blue Jackets are the NHL’s last-place team desperate to climb out of the hole they dug themselves with their 0-8 start, and they played with a compete level the Pens just did not match until the final minutes of the game when they pulled Marc-Andre Fleury for the extra attacker and broke Sergei Bobrovsky’s shutout bid with 58 seconds left. Columbus was aggressive and tenacious all night long – particularly on the forecheck – and it felt like they won every battle and race. They outskated the Pens, who got caught standing still way too often. When the Pens did have possession, their execution was off. A lot of bouncing pucks and missed passes.

While the Jackets did a decent job of staying structured during the Pens’ zone entries and forced them to either dump and chase or take perimeter shots many times, it’s not like the Pens didn’t have any chances. They had a few. The problem was that they didn’t bear down and put them in. Too many times, they would shoot high or wide. If they had capitalized on those opportunities, this could have been a different game.

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