RECAP 68: Come Back Down. Pens Come Back Down to Reality, Fall 4-1 in Columbus

RECAP 68: Come Back Down. Pens Come Back Down to Reality, Fall 4-1 in Columbus

Penguins

RECAP 68: Come Back Down. Pens Come Back Down to Reality, Fall 4-1 in Columbus

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“We’re gonna get ’em” is what Cam Atkinson said in his post game interview with the Jackets broadcast team in reference to the Penguins.

It’s not surprising to see him, stuck in Columbus for his entire 8 season career and will be stuck there for until the end of his days, to have such a loser’s mentality; to treat a win on home ice against your rival like it was Game 7 of the Cup Final.

Make no mistake, the win for the Jackets meant more to them than it would have for the Penguins.  Sure, both are desperate for points and a win for the Penguins would’ve given them a nice cushion, but last night’s win put the Jackets back into a playoff spot.  That’s huge for a team that hasn’t won a single playoff series in its loathsome existence.

What’s more, the Jackets haven’t been the Penguins since a 2-1 overtime win on February 17th, 2017.  They haven’t beaten the Penguins outright in regulation since a December 22, 2016 7-1 drubbing at Nationwide.  That’s a span of 751 and 808 days, respectively.

Since the last Penguins loss to the Jackets, both teams made consecutive playoff appearances, global temperatures rose, the Penguins won 5 straight playoff series, Burt Reynolds and Mac Miller died and, oh, the Pens won their second of back-to-back Cups.

It’s also the Pens first regulation loss in the last 7 games since that 4-0 circus at the hands (fins?) of the Sharks. It’s also the first regulation loss against Metro Division opposition in the Pens last 9 road games.

Guess it was time for the Pens to come back down to reality, right?

But things could be much, much worse for the Penguins, who now sit in Wild Card 1 after Carolina’s 5-3 win in Nashville last night.  But at least we know a regulation win over them is as good as it gets for Columbus.


LINEUP

No changes from Mike Sullivan’s winning lineup in Pittsburgh over these same Jackets, save for flipping Simon and McCann. The Jackets, though, weren’t the same as Torts decided to 1. cry about the second goal in Thursday’s game and B. start Bob this time around.

first period

CBJ tried to set the tone early with a few big hits out of Josh Anderson, but as the Pens escaped and broke up ice, Joone Benner slashed Jultz and the momentum gained from the opening 20 seconds was wiped out by a bad penalty.  Jackets killed it off though because the Pens PP was hot garbage.

CBJ –2:31 – Jenner; A: Anderson, Foligno  1-0

And right after Jenner’s penalty expired, he and his line stayed out on the ice for the D-zone draw.  Jenner won it, Jones tried to clear, but his clearance up the glass went off Jultz’ face and stopped dead for Foligno to airlift it on the backhand right into the Pens zone.

Anderson kept the grenade in front of him, got a fortuitous bounce as it eluded Dumo’s swipes, allowing for Anderson to smash it over to Jenner to walk in and snap one home on the 1v1 with Murr.

Jackets broadcast called this Foligno-Jenner-Anderson line the “Identity Line” because they’re total losers and need something pathetic like that to hang their hats on.

As the period wore on and the Jackets kept threatening, Murray kept the Pens in it before Hornqvist and McQuaid got matching roughing minors at the 7:20 mark, setting up Malkin to dance Savard about 1:15 later to give the Pens an abbreviated 4v3 preceding an abbreviated 5v4.

CBJ killed it off despite surrendering 5 PP shots.  Naturally, the Pens would be the next team penalized as ZAR went off for slashing with 6:46 to play.  Pens killed that off, period cranked down, but with 45.7 seconds left, Bjugstad went off for one of those “hooking” penalties where the player being infringed upon grabbed his opponent’s stick.  Of course it was Boone Jenner.  Ultimate villain.

second period

The 2nd frame opened with the Jackets still with 1:15 of PP time to work with.  Pens survived, going back on their own PP under a minute after Bjugstad was released from his pen after Jones got locked up for tripping Money Bag.

CBJ –2:17 – SHG – Atkinson; A: N/A  2-0

Pens won the opening draw, but a centering pass got broken up and cleared, sending Jultz and Co. back to pick it up.  RTJ lugged it and as soon as he entered into the neutral zone, he did that stupid ass drop pass that doesn’t do anything if you’re not pushing the penalty killers back.  Columbus just stood there, watched it happen, and when Phil! tripped over the blue line, Atkinson pounced and snipped on stick side on Murr.

Cancel that drop pass and the blue line and skating in general.

PIT –6:39 – Aston-Reese; A: Malkin, Phil!  2-1

But about 4 minutes later, the Pens took their chance and cut the lead in half.

First, Gudbranson, who “handles the puck like someone holding a baby for the first time” according to The Twitterless Rez, weaseled his way carrying the puck through the neutral zone, chipping it up from the red line to get some help from McCann to send it deep.  Bjugstad gave chase, keeping the Jackets from outletting it on the far side.  That allowed Gudbranson to hold down the red line and pinch to turn the breakout pass up and set up Bjugstad to win the board battle and send it back down low for Phil! to this time give chase on his own.

Bob set it up for Jones coming back, but Kessel’s forecheck was too much for Jones, who panic-sent it up the wall to where Malkin was coming off the bench.  Gene and Phil! combined to give Malkin a lane to the net, but no one picked up the ZAR in that soft little area in the slot to take Malkin’s little pass and beat Bob far side.

Jackets weren’t going away and kept huffing and puffing on Murray’s door, but the kid kept opening it with a shotgun and a can of Bud heavy in hand ready to carpe diem these dopes.

It felt like Pens didn’t really start testing Bob until late in the period, but it was Matt Murray that gave them a chance heading into the 3rd.  Tale of two periods in terms of controlling the play, though.

third period

Pens were buzzing and lurking and threatening and controlling the play in the back 9 of the 3rd period, but they couldn’t beat either one of Bob or The Post.

But at the 12:36 mark, Guentzel went to the box for tackling Foligno as Matt Murray made himself another highlight reel save on the evening.

Pens got the kill, went back to work setting up shop in the Jackets end of the ice, came close to beating Bob, but just didn’t.

CBJ –16:59 – Bjorkstrand; A: Dzingel, Duchene  3-1

Following that save, the Jackets would go on to win the ensuing D-zone draw and head down the other way with their outlet pass blowing right through the middle of the ice.

Duchene gained the zone, tried to dance around Johnson, who actually had a really nice gap and stick position here.  JJ73 got his body between Duchene and the puck, letting Duchene ride him into the boards, but not before Johnson kicked it free to Trotman to circle the wagons and break it out himself.

If Gudbranson handles the puck like someone holding a baby for the first time, Zach Trotman handles the puck like someone holding a baby for the first time, except that someone decides to drop the baby on it’s head and try to punt it to the moon under the guise of “that’s how we do it on my home planet.”

That’s because Trotman isn’t of this world with this pass.

He throws it up the wall towards Bjugstad, who’s on his off wing here.  It’s already difficult enough for Bjugstad to deal with it, let alone try to dig a rolling puck off the wall.

A rolling puck on the wall is precisely what Trotman gave him.

Bjugstad’s lone option was to just whack at it and hope it made it out of the zone, but it didn’t as Nutivaara took a hit to hold it in for Duchene to collect it in the faceoff circle, draw both Trotman and Johnson and Bjugstad to him before saucing a sexy little number to Dzingel walking right down Front Street.

Partial credit to Trotman here though.  He, admittedly, did recognize the Dzingel threat and backed off Duchene, but then he did this, which is objectively bad.

With Trotman down and out and Dzingel selling shot from the slot, Murr got out to challenge.  With no one supporting him in front, it gave Dzingel the freedom to find Bjorkstrand at the side of Murr for the tapperoo to effectively put this game to bed.

CBJ –18:11 – ENG – Atkinson; A: Werenski 4-1

HCMS got Murr out of the net with just under 3 to go for the extra skater and Atkinson euthanized the Penguins to really end any chance at a comeback.

Game.

NOTES

  • Matt Murray, again, turned in another stellar performance.  He did not deserve a loss on his record last night.  Three goals coming from two separate 1v0s and a 2v0.  WTF even.
  • We’ll never know if Bob’s showing was a directly or indirect result of being sat in the pressbox on Thursday, but he looked like the Bobrovsky that was unbeatable against the Pens early in his career in his 28 save effort.
  • Crosby’s goal streak (and point streak) ends at 6.
  • McCann-Bjugstad-Hornqvist looks like they have something going.  Together, they were on the ice for 8-4 shot attempts (66.67% share) and created 4 scoring chances at 5v5 (via naturalstattrick.com)
  • But the best line of the night for the Pens was the ZAR-Gene-Phil! line.  They owned a 5v5 advantage in shot attempts (9-6), unblocked attempts (8-5), shots (6-4), scoring chances (6-3), and high danger chances (3-2).

Bruins in like 15 minutes.  Do it.  Go Pens.

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