PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A five-goal second period gave the Penguins their first win of the 2019-2020 season, beating the Blue Jackets at home 7-2.
Columbus came to town on the second half of a back-to-back after facing the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday night at home.
The Blue Jackets gave Elvis Merzlikins his first NHL start as he would counter the Penguins’ Matt Murray in the net.
The first period passed by with no goals for either club, but the Penguins had two power-play opportunities to the Jackets’ one.
The second period is when the fireworks began.
Just under two minutes into the middle frame, Jack Johnson fired a wrist shot on net from the point that Patric Hornqvist would get a stick on, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
It wouldn’t last long as just 2:29 later, the Penguins would add to it. Crosby would circle out from behind the net and find defenseman Marcus Pettersson streaking down the left side, Pettersson would send a wrist shot off the glove of Merzlikins and into the net, doubling the Pittsburgh lead.
A net-front scramble in front of Murray would put Columbus about two minutes after Pettersson’s goal.
Zach Werenski found himself on the right post in front of Murray, Riley Nash would work the puck over to Werenski and he made no mistake, making it 2-1.
The Penguins would answer two minutes later when Jared McCann would get his first of two goals on the night.
From a 3-on-1 rush, McCann skated down the right side, took a snapshot that would beak Merzlikins on the blocker side, restoring a two-goal Penguins lead.
From there, the rout was on.
With 4:37 to go in the second, Alex Galchenyuk would find McCann with a slick backhand pass under the Columbus defenseman’s stick and McCann went blocker side again, making it 4-1 Penguins.
Kris Letang would play the role of buzzer-beater with the Penguins on the power play late in the second period.
With just 1.2 seconds remaining, Letang would wind up from the right faceoff dot and give the Penguins a four-goal lead.
The third period would continue being all Pittsburgh.
Patric Hornqvist would score his second of the evening after Sidney Crosby took a pass behind his back, put the puck between his legs and fed a streaking Hornqvist coming down the right-wing. Hornqvist then snapped a one-timer past Merzlikins, extending the lead to 6-1 Penguins.
Shortly thereafter, Teddy Blueger would extend the Penguins’ lead to six.
Blueger would enter the Blue Jackets’ zone, drifted to the left and fired a shot to the right, fooling Merzlikins over the glove side.
Columbus would get one back with just under six minutes remaining in regulation when Riley Nash would control a misplayed puck by Letang, find Gustav Nyquist who would beat Murray on the blocker side, making it 7-2.
With five minutes left in the second period, Columbus’ Pierre-Luc Dubois would lay a big hit on Jake Guentzel and Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby took exception it. He would drop the gloves and fight Dubois.
Evgeni Malkin would leave the game in the middle period after taking an awkward hit along the boards near the benches and would not return. Along with Malkin, center Nick Bjugstad would also leave with an injury. Head Coach Mike Sullivan said postgame that both players are being evaluated and an update will be provided later.
Matt Murray made 28 saves for a .933 save percentage. The Penguins had four players with multi-point efforts. Crosby had two assists, McCann had two goals and an assist, Hornqvist scored two goals and Galchenyuk added two assists.
The Penguins will welcome the Winnipeg Jets to PPG Paints Arena for a Tuesday night matchup at 7:00 p.m.