-Hey, guess where we are:
-No, not quite:
-The Blue Jackets were strong near the blue paint last night. They made life miserable for Marc-Andre Fleury who had to be strong for his team to come away with a win. Often times, the primary, visceral response to something like that is to call for the Penguins to "clear the crease."
-That's a good idea ... in 1991. With the newer interference rules, a defenseman can clear out a power forward away from the blue paint the way Ulf Samuelsson would try to bulldoze (often illegally, even by the standards of the early 1990s) the likes of Cam Neely or Tim Kerr. If Brooks Orpik were to just start an Oklahoma Drill against Nick Foligno tonight, he would get an interference minor provided the officials were doing their jobs correctly.
-So how do you prevent the opponent from establishing a net-front presence? You get there first. In other words, establish your presence in front of your blue paint before the other guy. If you pardon the basketball reference, when a shooting guard gets a shot off from the three-point arc, the power forward needs to be in position already for the rebound. In this sport, if James Wisniewski pounds a slapper from the point, Matt Niskanen needs to be in position already to prevent Brandon Dubinsky from getting a stick on it.
-That's easier said than done. The Blue Jackets have a solid crew of forwards who are strong near the net like Dubinsky, Foligno, Cam Atkinson and others. But the Penguins need to be stronger around their cage tonight.
-Jeff Zatkoff will start tonight in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. We like the move. Fleury saw a lot of shots last night (39) and it's the second of back to back game. Plus, he has ties to the area as he played at Miami, Ohio. He'll have some juices flowing tonight.
-He needs to have a really strong game. He rebounded a bit in his last apperance, a 4-3 loss to the Islanders. His defense was more responsible for that loss than he was, but he needs to steal a few goals in order to cement his place on this roster.
-The Blue Jackets actually played a decent game last night. They just didn't get any goaltending as Sergei Bobrovsky was sub par. We would expect them to have a pretty motivated effort tonight based on their strong play last night as well as having a little revenge on their minds.
-As always, there are a TON of Penguins fans on hand. Before the doors were opened, a sort of "pep talk" for the ushers was read over the public address system reminding the ushers that this game would be similar to the Toronto or Detroit games. The ushers were also reminding to treat other fans just as well as Blue Jackets fans.
-Like we said, Penguins fans are here once again:
-There seems to be some concern over the status of Tanner Glass who left last night's game in the late stages of the third period after colliding with Jack Johnson. Dan Bylsma would not commit to him being available tonight.
-Like Philadelphia, there is a Broad Street:
-Unlike Philadelphia, you can roll your windows down on this Broad Street.
-We'll have our normal assortment of pregame photos up in due time. The Wifi here is a tad slow.
-There's nothing but yinzers here in line for the cannon they fire off for Blue Jackets goals:
-Somebody better hide Nick Foligno. The cannon has fallen to the opposition:
-There is a display in the main concourse honoring the first decade of the Blue Jackets:
-There's also a hat trick bin with all the hats collected over the years:
-The Blue Jackets' practice rink is adjacent to the main rink and is currently hosting a youth game:
-Mike Commodore and Derek Dorsett:
-Even Martin Brodeur Devils fans have invaded:
-Ditto James van Riemsdyk Maple Leafs:
-There are all sorts of Penguins fans here. Johan Hedberg and Olli Maatta each have one:
-All Hail Miroslav Satan:
-Even Robert Bortuzzo has a fan here:
-Normally, a Geoff Sanderson Blue jackets jersey would be Jersey of the Night:
-But we have to go with Craig Hartsburg North Stars:
-Hartsburg is currently an associate coach with the Blue Jackets.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Jeff Zatkoff.
-Their scratches are Matt D'Agostini, Chuck Kobasew and Rob Scuderi.
-The Blue Jackets' starters are Artem Anisimov, Blake Comeau, Mark Letestu, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray and Curtis McElhinney.
-Their scratches are Boone Jenner and David Savard.
-The national anthem:
19:36: A solid "Let's Go Pens" chant is combated with a spirited "Let's go Jackets!"
19:26: Jussi Jokinen tosses a wrister on net from above the right circle. McElhinney gloves it easily.
18:26: Nikita Nikitin chips a wrister from the right half wall on net. Zatkoff steers it to the near cornerc.
18:04: Crosby rips a heavy wrister from the right circle which is blocked by Nikitin.
16:41: Off some strong work down low by Foligno, R.J. Umberger jabs a little forehand attempt from the right of the cage. Zatkoff holds it out.
16:31: Deryk Engelland chips a wrister from the right wing on net. McEhlhinne knocks it dead and covers as the great Joe Vitale crashes in for a rebound.
15:55: Comeau re-directs a pass from the right point on net. Zatkoff reads it all the way and kicks it out.
13:50: Dustin Jeffrey and Engelland each force a turnover by the Blue Jackets and push the play back up ice. Engelland has had two solid shifts thus far.
13:18: During a commercial stoppage. Blue Jackets president John Davidson and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman appear on the video board to announce the 2015 All-Star Game will be coming to Columbus. The 2013 was scheduled for Columbus but was wiped out by the lockout.
10:11: Crosby flings a wrister from above the left circle. McElhinney bobbles it a bit. Ryan Murray is there to clear the rebound away.
8:20: Comeau appears to have a chance in the left circle but a strong backcheck by Jokinen breaks it up.
7:23: Martin flings a wrister from the right point. McElhinney fights it off despite traffic. Dupuis collects it and punches it back on net. McElhinney fights that off too.
6:01: Gaborik chips and chases a puck by Niskanen on the right wing. Before Gaborik can recover the puck, Zatkoff scrambles out of his crease and whacks the puck back down ice from the right circle.
5:25: Megna snaps off a wrister from the right circle which hits McElhinney in the lid. A Columbus defender whacks the rebound away.
4:31: Derek MacKenzie booms a one-timer from the right circle which Martin deflects wide to the far side with his stick.
1:25: The Penguins will get the first power play of the game. Wisniewski shoved Evgeni Malkin to the ice in the Columbus crease. That's two minutes for cross checking. Kunitz, Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Martin take the ice.
1:16: Malkin and Kunitz each have two chance in tight.
0:15: Anisimov has the makings of a two-on-one as he pushes the puck up the right wing. He forces a pass to Dubinsky trailing slightly on the left wing. Letang is position in the slot. He reads the play all the way and knocks the puck out of midair and leads a rush back up ice.
0:00: End of period. Blue Jackets 0, Penguins 0.
-That was a pretty stale period of hockey. There was very little in terms of sustained offensive pressure by either squad. Both teams played it safe.
-Zatkoff looked pretty good on the few chances he did face. He looked pretty confident and composed.
-It would be a stretch to say anyone on either squad stood out in a positive or negative sense.
-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 10-3.
-The Penguins have a 14-6 lead in attempted shots.
-Martin leads the game with two shots.
-Letang leads the game with 8:49 of ice time.
-Jack Johnson leads the Blue jackets with 7:23.
-The Penguins have a 9-7 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Crosby has a 5-1 lead in faceoffs (83 percent).
-MacKenzie is 2 for 2 (100 percent).
-Maatta leads the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will start the period with 35 seconds of power-play time on fresh ice. Crosby Malkin, Kunitz, Letang and Martin take the ice.
19:40: Letestu chase down a puck deep on the right wing an dfling si on net from a bad angle. Zatkoff boots it out.
19:25: The Wisniewski minor expires.
17:24: Dalton Prout booms a one-timer from center point which gets blocked by Brandon Sutter.
16:31: Jared Boll (6-foot-2, 219 pounds) pushes a puck up the left wing and tries to barge in on net. He tries to out-muscle Letang (5-foot-11 205 pounds) but is send sprawling to he ice by the Penguins' defenseman for his troubles. That was an impressive display of strength by Letang.
16:19: off a cross-ice feed by Crosby, Dupuis jabs a quick shot on net from the right left wing. McElHinney fights it off.
15:55: Crosby pushes a puck up the right wing and takes a tumble but is still abe to whacks a backhanded shot over the cage.
14:44: Gaborik races up the right wing, fends off Letang and deals a pass to Atkinson in the slot. Niskanen blocks a one-timer. The rebound tickles th elleft ofht ecage where Dubinsk flicks a backhander on net. Zatkof gloves it.
13:14: The misfit toys which compose the fourth line score the first goal. Dustin Jeffrey races up the right wing, curls off a checker and loses the puck. The great Joe Vitale collects it and from the right corner deals a pass to Engelland position just at the bottom of the right circle. Engelland leans down and rips a one-timer by McElhinney's glove hand on the near side. What a pretty goal by Engelland. A ton of Penguins fans on hand celebrate. Vitale and Jeffrey get assists. It's Jeffrey's first poitn of the season. Penguins 1-0.
10:00: Pushing the puck up the right wing, Anisimov uses Maatta as a screen and snaps off a wrister high of the cage.
9:53: Columbus gets a chance to tie the game. The Penguins are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Jokinen will serve the minor. Martin Orpik, Dupuis and Adams take the ice.
8:49: Fedor Tyutin whacks a one-timer from the right poitn which hits something on front.
8:25: Gaborik has a wrister from the right circle blocked and and cleared
8:10: Murray flies up the right wing and booms a slapper to the far side. Zatkoff gloves it
7:53: The Penguins' minor expires. They didn't allow much to the Blue Jackets there.
7:16: Umberger holds up Letang behind the Penguins' net. Letang responds by punching him in the chest and knocking him over. They get minors. We'll have four-on-four for two minutes.
6:19: Kunitz jabs a little wrister from a loose puck int he left circle. McElhinney eats it up.
5:35: Off a cross-ice feed by Malkin, Dupuis rockets a one-timer from the right half wall. McElhinney fights it off.
5:07: Letang pinches in deep on the right wing and deals a cross-ice feed to Maatta in t he slot. Maatta grips and rips a wrister well high of the cage.
4:29: Chasing after a puck in the right wing corner, Letang pulls up near the boards and is washed over by Boll who sends him crashing into the bards from the left side. Play is halted. A few of Letang's teammates give Boll some grief. Officials break it up and Boll is sent off for boarding. That seemed to be more of an unfortunate play than anything. Letang appears to be fine after the collision. Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Kuntiz and Martin take the ice.
3:34: Malkin lifts a wrister from the right cirlc but has it blocked by Prout.
3:21: Martin jabs a slapper from the right point. Johnson blocks it with hstick but essentially sets up Crosby with a chance to the left of the cage. Crosby pokes it on net immediately but McElhinney is able to scramble to his right and fight it off.
1:17: Prout booms a one-timer from the right point which is blocked by xxx in the slot.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Blue Jackets 0.
-Things opened up quite a bit that period for both teams. The Penguins had the bulk of opportunities but both squads had a fair amount of chances.
-We're not sure if the Penguins or the Blue Jackets are more responsible for this, but the Blue Jackets have not establish nearly the same presence around the Penguins' cage as last night.
-It would be a stretch to say Zatkoff has been tested, but he's been pretty composed all night.
-The Penguins are blocking a lot of shots and passes through the slot. They have packed things around their net pretty tight.
-How do you argue with Engelland being used as forward right now?
-The Penguins have a 22-10 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 33-23 lead in attempted shots.
-Dupuis leads the game with five shots.
-Nikitin leads the Blue Jackets with two shots.
-Johnson leads the game with 17:15 of ice time.
-Martin leads the game with 16:45 of ice time.
-The Penguins have an 18-14 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Crosby is 11 for 15 (73 percent).
-Anisimov is 3 for 4 (75 percent).
-Maatta and Anisimov each lead the game with three blocked shots.
19:13: Ouch. Chris Kunitz is credited for a goal after Comeau poked it into his own net. Kunitz pushed the puck up the right wing and jabbed a pass attempt to Crosby on the opposite side of the crease. Comeau leaned down to break up the pass but poked it into his own net. That was the last thing Columbus needed. The goal is unassisted. Penguins fans go nuts. Penguins 2-0.
16:31: After an icing call, the Blue Jackets call a timeout to get a breather.
15:59: Crosby snaps off a wrister from the right point on net. Dupuis is positioned in the right circle and appears to re-direct it a bit. McElhinney fights it off.
15:13: Prout tries whacking a one-timer from tabove the right circle. he fans a bit on the shot. The puck rolls in towards the blue paint. Zatkoff searches through a forest of legs and smothers the puck.
13:52: Atkinson grips and rips a wrister from the right circle wide on the near side.
13:07: On a delayed penalty, Niskanen cranks a slapper which is blocked. Play is halted. Atkinson is called for tripping Jayson Megna on the left wing. Crosby, Letang, Martin, Malkin and Kunitz get assists.
11:28: Battling for a puck behind the cage, Dubinsky is able to deal a pass to Prout in the slot. Prout whips a one-timer which Zatkoff smothers with his leg.s. Maatta is sent off for tripping Anisimov. We'll have four-on-four for 21 seconds.
11:07: The Atkinson minor is killed. The Blue Jackets will have a power play for 1:39.
9:45: Johansen cranks a slapper from the right half wall. It hits a body in front and is cleared down ice.
9:28: As the Maatta minor is about to expire, Dubinsky flings a wrister from the right wing.
7:01: Johnson flings a wrister from the cener point. There a battle for the rebound which Kunitz is able to clear behidn the cage.
6:48: There is a delay in the game after Zatkoff needs a moment to switch masks. Zatkoff heads to the bench and gets a replacement lid as his mask was dinged up a bit.
6:42: Nikitin booms a slapper from the right point. It hits something in front and makes a "thud." The Penguins skate it out of danger.
2:16: With an offensive zone faceoff, the Blue Jackets pull McElhinney for an extra attacker. The Penguins call a timeout to get organized.
2:10: Wisniewski booms a salpper from teh right poitn which goes wide.
1:35: Engelland is on the ice at a key moment of the game and he is able to to backhand chop the puck from his own center point out of the zone.
0:37: Malkin steals a puck off Dubinsky in the Columbus zone. Dubinsky dives to knock it off Malkin's stick. Jokinen follows up on the puck and chips it into the open net for one of us.
Malkin and Crosby get assists. Penguins 3-0.
0:29: An overwhelming "Let's Go Pens!" chant roars down on the ice.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 0.
-The difference in this game was how the Penguins managed the puck. They held onto it a lot more. In turn, that cut down on the chances the Blue Jackets had near the cage and made life fairly easy for Jeff Zatkoff in recording his first career win and shutout.
-Brooks Orpik put it best when asked to compare last night's game to tonight's:
“I think we just did a better job away from the net. I think in the neutral zone we did a better job so they had a tough time just getting to our zone. Last night, they got a lot of zone time so they established themselves in front the net. I think our puck possession was better tonight. I don’t think we gave up many odd-man rushes tonight. Last night, it was a lot of odd-man rushes and we were coming back and trying to find guys and it was kind of scrambly. Tonight, it seemed a lot more controlled for us. “
-When asked if the coaching staff stressed the team's play around the net, Orpik added:
“I think we all knew. After the second period, I don’t know how we were winning 4-1. I think we were all sharing the same feeling in the locker room. We knew we had to be a lot better coming here if we wanted to win tonight. “
-The difference in this game was pretty evident to the naked eye. The Blue Jackets had some bodies near the net, but they couldn't get pucks near the cage. The Penguins blocked plenty of shots as well as passes.
-Zatkoff earned the win and the shutout, but he wasn't tested nearly as much as Marc-Andre Fleury was last night. The Penguins made life easier for him defensively. As Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards put it:
"Their goalie, a young guy. We didn’t test him. We didn’t do nearly enough to make things difficult on him."
-How different was the puck possession? Last night, the Blue Jackets attempted 61 shots. Tonight, they were limited to 40
-It's nice to see Zatkoff finally get a win as well as a shutout. When he was tested, he looked really comfortable and really confident. He looked like he belonged at this level. He kicked out safe rebounds and was able to eat up any loose puck down low before a Columbus player got a stick on it.
-Zatkoff was asked if he thought about the win and shutout as the game wore on:
“I didn’t think about it. I think the last game against the Islanders, we were close. I think I was so worried about getting that win, I think I lost a little focus. Today, I just kept telling myself it’s a process. Minute by minute. Shift by shift. Shot by shot. Tried not to look at the clock and just focus on making saves. I don’t think I looked [at the clock] until we took that timeout the last two minutes. It was a pretty long two minutes. “
-What more do you say about Deryk Engelland as a forward? He produced the game-winning goal with a nice snipe and was even used in some key situations. With about two minutes left, he was on the ice defending the Blue Jackets' top line with Curtis McElhinney pulled. He managed to chip a puck out of the defensive zone to breakup a Columbus possession. How do you argue with what he's accomplished thus far as a forward?
-The Penguins' power play was blanked on three chances but their penalty kill was 2 for 2.
-The Penguins did get a little bit lucky with the goal credited to Chris Kunitz. Until Blake Comeau poked that puck into his own net, it was only a one-goal game. That bit of luck really changed this game early in the third period.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 27-19.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 42-40.
-Jack Johnson led the game in ice time, 26:26.
-Paul Martin led the game in ice time, 26:09.
-The Penguins had a 28-23 lead in faceoffs (55 percent).
-Sidney Crosby was 28-23 (55 percent).
-Brandon Dubinsky was 8 for 16 (50 percent).
-Olli Maatta led the game with four blocked shots.
-Dalton Prout led the Blue Jackets with three blocked shots.
-Zatkoff is the 50th goaltender to record a regular season win for the Penguins and the 32nd to record a shutout.
-Engelland recorded the second game-winning goal of his career. The first came in a 5-1 win at Colorado, March 3, 2012.
-The great Joe Vitale has has the primary assist on each of Engelland's goals this season.
-The section in front of our portion of the press box, as well as many other sections, was choked with Penguins fans: