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Penguins-Blue Jackets Recap

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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It may be only the first pre-season game but the Penguins looked like the team from a season ago that led the National Hockey League with 10 come-from-behind victories in the third period.


Pittsburgh scored four goals in the third frame to erase 3-0 and 4-3 deficits to force an overtime session. Pittsburgh capped the comeback just 44 seconds into the sudden death period on Chris Kunitz’s second goal of the game.

The Penguins' top line (Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Eric Tangradi) carried the team to victory by accounting for four of the team’s five goals and totaling eight points between the trio.

The Blue Jackets built a 3-0 lead through two periods. Crosby cut into the lead with his first two goals of the pre-season. Penguins forward Chris Conner tied the game when his shot pinball-ed into the Columbus net.

The Blue Jackets reclaimed the lead, 4-3, on Alexandre Picard’s goal with just 2:02 left in regulation. But the Penguins pulled even when Kunitz found the back of the net just 17 seconds later.

Crosby, who finished with two goals and an assist, then made a great individual effort to set up the winner. Crosby intercepted an attempted backboard pass behind the Columbus net. He quickly threw a pass into the slot, where Kunitz buried it home for the Penguins victory.
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The pre-season contest was the team’s first game action since Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Detroit. For the game, Pittsburgh dressed eight players from their championship squad: forwards Crosby, Jordan Staal, Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Ruslan Fedotenko, defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Mark Eaton and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Other notable players that participated in the game were free agent acquisition Jay McKee, heralded prospect Tangradi and 2009 first-round pick Simon Despres.

Pittsburgh used the following forward line combinations:
Kunitz-Crosby-Tangradi
Dupuis-Staal-Fedotenko
Conner-Jeffrey-Bayda
Sill-Vitale-Godard

The defensive pairings were:
Despres-Gonchar
Eaton-Engelland
McKee-Bortuzzo

Fleury played the first two periods before giving way to Brad Thiessen in net.
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Tangradi has looked as good as advertised so far. He was a force in front of the Blue Jackets’ net and has created havoc for their defensemen. Tangradi has had a few chances from the paint (although he couldn’t get good wood on his shots because the puck was caught in his skates).

He set up two Sidney Crosby goals, one with a beautiful cross-crease pass and the other by hacking at a rebound in front of the net.

Tangradi also displayed his impressive size. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound forward won battles along the boards. He brought a loud cheer from the audience after he leveled Jared Boll behind the Columbus net. 
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The Penguins power play was impressive. Not only did the PP unit tally a third-period goal that sparked their comeback, but it also generated 11 shots and a number of scoring chances.

Crosby tallied the lone power-play goal after burying a great cross-crease pass from Tangradi. Fedotenko broke free on a breakaway in the first period but was stopped by former Penguins' goalie Mathieu Garon. Tangradi and Chris Conner both hit posts on the man-advantage, and Pittsburgh came inches away on a handful of other opportunities.

The Penguins used Kunitz, Crosby, Tangradi, Gonchar and Despres on the first power-play unit. During a four-on-three advantage the Penguins put Crosby and Gonchar on the point with Kunitz and Staal down low.
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Even though the game was merely a pre-season contest, there were quite a few heated battles that transpired on the ice.

First, Derek Engelland dropped the gloves with Columbus’ Doug Lynch. Engelland knocked off Lynch’s helmet and then dropped the Blue Jacket after landing a hard right hook to the head.

Eric Godard stepped out of the box following a two-minute penalty and immediately sparred with Tom Sestito. The two tangled for a while, with no one getting in a decisive shot. The men wrestled to the ground before the officials broke it up.
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Quick hitters:

Since Evgeni Malkin did not play in the game, Fedotenko wore the “A.”

Pittsburgh outshot Columbus 42-28, including a 20-7 count in the third period.

Eaton, Gonchar and newcomer Jay McKee also registered assists.

Crosby and Kunitz finished with a game-high plus-3 rating.

Crosby, using a new stick for the first time, finished with a game-high seven shots.


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