A quick look at the Penguins’ 2-1 overtime loss to Columbus at Nationwide Arena Friday night:
*** Columbus winger Cam Atkinson scored the game-winner at 2:42 of overtime, beating goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a rebound from inside the right circle, but the dominant storyline was a cross-check Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky delivered to the back of Sidney Crosby’s neck with 80 seconds left in the second period. The league’s Dept. of Player Safety has scheduled a hearing for Dubinsky Saturday.
*** Crosby left the game, but returned after going through the league’s concussion protocol, and general manager Jim Rutherford was adamant that he believes the cross-check merited more than the two-minute penalty Dubinsky was assessed. “Those are the kind of hits a player can be hurt real bad with,” he said. “We have the player lying on the ice, and it’s only a two-minute penalty. This is what we would hope there would be a little stiffer penalty on.” Rutherford said he had not ruled out contacting the league, although the NHL reviews every incident that might merit a fine or suspension without involvement from any team.
*** Crosby obviously did not see the cross-check, since it was delivered from behind, so he really couldn’t say much about the sequence. “There was a battle in front. I guess he cross-checked me in the back of the head,” Crosby said. “He was behind me, and I felt it.” He added that, “it didn’t feel like” two minutes were sufficient punishment.
*** Penguins coach Mike Johnston, on the cross-check: “The referees, they see it like I do – live. It’s a quick reaction to whatever they see. But when you look at it again, it looked bad.”
*** Atkinson’s game-winner – set up by a pass from Dubinsky – soured a sensational night for Fleury, who made 41 saves. “[Fleury] did a great job,” Crosby said. “He kept us in the game.”
*** Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 9:15 of the third period, so the Penguins lost for the first time this season when taking a 1-0 lead. They had won the previous nine.
*** The Penguins protested that Blue Jackets winger Scott Hartnell interfered with Fleury just before Ryan Johansen scored the first Columbus goal, but their challenge was denied.
*** Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist was one of the few who didn’t think the game got especially nasty as it moved along. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Obviously, there were a lot of emotions out there and a lot of intensity. It was just a physical game.”
*** The Penguins have a man-advantage goal in each of the past five games.
*** Crosby, on the Penguins’ sluggish start: “As it went along, we seemed to get our feet under us and get settled a little bit more. We know that, especially here, they come out hard and quick. We still can do a better job of getting to our game a little earlier.”
*** The Penguins lost for the first time in five overtime games this season, while Columbus had a game go past the third period for the first time in 2015-16.
*** Defenseman Ben Lovejoy, on the Penguins’ performance: “We came out with a very poor effort. They were better in a lot of facets of the game. The score was close because [Fleury] was amazing.”
*** Johnston, on the Penguins-Blue Jackets rivalry: “Every game we’ve played them … they’re all intense battles. It’s nice to see the intensity, the rivalry, the passion in the game. That’s the way they’re going to be played.”
Goaltender Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (15-2-0-0) in a 3-0 home shutout of the Providence Bruins Friday. It was Murray’s third shutout of the season.
Left winger Kael Mouillierat had a goal and an assist for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while left winger Conor Sheary and center Dominik Simon also scored goals.
The Penguins’ next game is Saturday at home against the rival Hershey Bears, 7:05 p.m.
An overtime goal by defenseman Derrick Pouliot gave the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (14-2-0-0) a 4-3 road win against the rival Binghamton Senators Wednesday.
Left winger Kael Mouillierat, right winger Carter Rowney and center Dominik Simon each had a goal and an assist for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while left winger Conor Sheary recorded two assists. Goaltender Matt Murray made 18 saves in the victory.
The Penguins’ next game is Friday at home against the Providence Bruins, 7:05 p.m.
Goaltender Franky Palazzese made 28 saves for the Wheeling Nailers (10-6-1-0) in a 1-0 shutout at home of the Reading Royals.
Wheeling’s next game is Saturday at home against the Brampton Beast, 7:35 p.m.
A quick look at the Penguins’ 4-3 victory against St. Louis at Consol Energy Center Wednesday night:
*** Evgeni Malkin threw a backhander past St. Louis goalie Jake Allen 63 seconds into overtime to give the Penguins their third victory in the past four games. Malkin has a league-leading five game-winners this season.
*** Sidney Crosby, who did not have a goal in his previous 10 games against the Blues, scored the first two for the Penguins. They were the last opponent against which he had not scored. Crosby also tied his career high with nine shots on goal in an outstanding performance. “When Sid’s shooting the puck like that and with the determination he plays with offensively, he’s really hard to handle,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said.
*** The Penguins got an excellent game from the fourth line of Sergei Plotnikov, Matt Cullen and Eric Fehr. Plotnikov played particularly well, recording four shots on goal and three hits. “I thought that was his best game, for sure,” Cullen said. “He was all over the puck and making things happen.”
*** The Penguins have allowed three or more goals in five consecutive games and seven of the past eight.
*** Pascal Dupuis made Crosby’s first goal possible when he pressured Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson into throwing the puck to Crosby. “He put it on a tee for me there,” Crosby said. “It’s nice to put that one in. I don’t know what would have been going through my head if that didn’t go in.”
*** The Penguins snapped a streak of three consecutive home-ice losses to St. Louis.
*** St. Louis played a typically heavy game, but the Penguins weren’t knocked off their game by the hitting. “They’re a big team, physical,” Crosby said. “They came at us pretty hard and I thought we handled it really well. Our [defense] had to take a lot of hits. Our forwards, too.”
*** The Penguins are 4-0 in overtime this season.
*** Both teams got a power-play goal. St. Louis needed just seven seconds of its first try with the man-advantage to score, as Paul Stastny steered an Alexander Steen pass behind Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury just seven seconds into the man-advantage.
*** The Penguins have a man-advantage goal in four consecutive games.
*** Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy broke a 2-2 tie at 6:49 of the second, wristing a shot past Allen from high on the left side of the slot. “Very rarely do I hit where I’m aiming,” Lovejoy said. “And that was exactly where I was trying to put it.”
*** The Blues had won their previous four games against the Penguins that went to overtime.
*** Kessel has his second four-game points streak of the season.
*** The Penguins are 10-0 when leading after two periods and 10-3 in one-goal games.
A quick look at the Penguins’ 3-1 loss to San Jose at Consol Energy Center Saturday night:
*** Sharks defenseman Brent Burns scored his team’s first two goals, and reminded everyone watching of what an impact he can have. Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy called him “an absolute animal,” and center Matt Cullen was no less effusive. “He’s got it all,” Cullen said. “He shoots the puck. He handles the puck. He makes plays. To me, he is a guy who drives their team. He plays both ends of the ice well, and he’s all over the place because he skates so well. He’s definitely one of those guys who actually doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is.”
*** The Penguins threw a season-high 39 shots at Sharks goalie Martin Jones, but Phil Kessel’s power-play goal at 8:38 of the second period was the only one that eluded him. The goal was Kessel’s seventh of the season and first in six games.
*** Former Penguins defenseman Paul Martin celebrated his return to Consol Energy Center with a goal and an assist. His goal closed out the scoring, and came after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had stopped his shot from the point, only to have the puck carom off Lovejoy, who was tying up a Sharks forward near the crease. “Get [Fleury] to bank it off of [Lovejoy] and I’ll take it,” Martin said. “I guess I have to thank them for helping me out.”
*** Burns’ second goal also resulted from an inadvertent deflection, as his shot from above the right circle hit Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi near the crease before entering the net. “Stuff happens,” Fleury said.
*** The loss snapped the Penguins’ two-game winning streak and dropped their record to 12-8. San Jose has won five in a row, all on the road, and also is 12-8.
*** The first of San Jose left winger Patrick Marleau’s two assists was his 1,000th point in the NHL, making him the 83rd player in NHL history to reach that milestone. Joe Nieuwendyk, then of New Jersey, is the only other to do it against the Penguins.
*** Incredibly, Penguins center Crosby has an assist in consecutive home games for the first time this season.
*** The Penguins have scored a power-play goal in three consecutive games.
*** Lovejoy, on San Jose’s performance as a road team: “They did a good job. I thought we played well, but not our best. That San Jose team has been good for a long time, and they were good tonight.”
*** Sharks coach Pete DeBoer missed the game for personal reasons. Assistant coaches Bob Boughner, Johan Hedberg and Steve Spott shared his duties.
*** Crosby, on the Penguins’ performance: Our execution has to get a little better. We had our opportunities. It was a close game. The difference in the game was two pucks off of guys, really. That happens.”