Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box of the Pens’ 2-1 overtime loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
1. Sensational Flower
The Pens escaped Columbus with one point in the standings. It was all because of three things: Marc. Andre. Fleury. The Pens’ netminder turned aside a season-high 40 saves in the contest. Fleury was his usual MVP self against Columbus, particularly in the first period where he stopped 15 pucks and many of them on solid scoring opportunities. His best saves were with the glove on a wicked Brandon Dubinsky shot, and stopping Alexander Wennberg all alone in the slot. 2. Half Game
The Pens had difficulty with the Blue Jackets’ forecheck during the first half of the game. Pittsburgh was outshot 15-7 in the first period, and Columbus really was in control for the majority of the opening half of the game. The Pens came to life following Patric Hornqvist’s hit on Matt Calvert. It was a 50-50 duel the rest of the way, but Pittsburgh took too long to respond to Columbus’ punch. The Pens played too much of the first half on their heels, instead of their toes. Fleury bailed them out, but they need to find a way to better handle that aggressive pressure. 3. Nastiness
The Pens and Blue Jackets are no strangers to taking their rivalry beyond the realm of “friendly.” Of course, everyone remembers the playoff series in 2014 that sparked the rivalry. It was taken up a notch tonight. There was a lot of chippiness throughout the game, but things blew over following Hornqvist’s hit in the corner on Calvert. Ryan Murray immediately went after Hornqvist and from that point on both teams were running each other. The Jackets were particularly intent on exacting revenge on Hornqvist. Things got really ugly when Dubinsky cross check Sidney Crosby in the back of the neck. Luckily, Crosby was able to return to the game. Even Evgeni Malkin and Jack Johnson engaged in a fight. These are certainly two teams that don’t like each other.