Penguins 2, Blue Jackets 1

Vince Comunale, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


PITTSBURGH -- Receiving goals from the NHL's two leading scorers, centers Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins skated past the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 at Consol Energy Center on Monday night.
The Penguins and Blue Jackets are now rivals in the new Metropolitan Division, but the story remains the same for the Blue Jackets. Pittsburgh improved to 8-1-1 its past 10 games against Columbus, including 3-0 this season.
The lineups that the Penguins and Blue Jackets put on the ice bore little resemblance to the opening-night rosters. In fact, the teams were without players making more than $46.6 million due to injury or suspension.
For Pittsburgh some of the notable names missing were left winger James Neal, suspended for five games, and defenseman Brooks Orpik, placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. For Columbus, right winger Marian Gaborik and last year's Vezina Trophy winner as top goaltender in the NHL, Sergei Bobrovsky, will be missing for at least the next four weeks.
After a scoreless first period, Malkin took matters into his own hands early in the second by scoring a video-game-like goal. After corralling a cross-ice pass from left winger Jussi Jokinen in the neutral zone, Malkin busted down the right wing with speed, muscled his way around Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin, put the puck on his backhand, avoided the pokecheck of goaltender Curtis McElhinney, then stuffed the puck into the left side of the net to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
The goal came at 4:16 and gave Malkin at least one point in seven career games against Columbus. Malkin missed the Penguins' previous two games due to a lower-body injury.
The Penguins' second goal was far less spectacular. Left winger Pascal Dupuis, positioned near the goal line, threw a shot wildly toward the net that hit off of the backside of Crosby and deflected into the net at 8:52 of the third.
Less than 30 seconds after Crosby's goal, a scrum ensued that saw coincidental roughing calls to Pittsburgh defenseman Simon Despres and Columbus center Derek MacKenzie, as well as 10-minute misconducts to Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky and Pittsburgh defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. Dubinsky also received a game misconduct for something he said to the officials.
The Blue Jackets finally solved Marc-Andre Fleury with less than a minute left in the game and shortly after Fleury narrowly missed an attempt at shooting into the empty net. Left winger Matt Calvert took a pass from center Marc Letestu and easily tapped it past Fleury from in tight, but it proved to be too little, too late.
Fleury made 32 saves to earn his 17th win, while McElhinney turned aside 28 Pittsburgh shots in defeat.
NOTES: The Penguins recalled D Brian Dumoulin from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. ... The Blue Jackets recalled D Tim Erixon from AHL Springfield. ... The NHL announced Monday that Pittsburgh LW James Neal was suspended five games without pay for kneeing Boston Bruins F Brad Marchand on Dec. 7. ... Going into Monday's action, Columbus had allowed the fewest giveaways (165) in the Eastern Conference. ... Scratches for the Penguins were Neal (suspended), Dumoulin and LW Harry Zolnierczyk. Scratches for the Blue Jackets were RW Jack Skille, D Tim Erixon and D James Wisniewski (upper-body injury). ... Pittsburgh is next in action on Friday when it hosts the New Jersey Devils. Columbus will host New Jersey on Tuesday. ... The official attendance was 18,520.