Johnny Gaudreau's overtime goal lifts Blue Jackets to 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins
As soon as Adam Boqvist's pass landed on Johnny Gaudreau's stick, it was obvious what was going to happen next.
Just under a minute into overtime between the Blue Jackets and the Penguins at Nationwide Arena on Thursday, Gaudreau raced up the ice with a clear lane toward the net. From the other end of the ice, Boqvist spotted Gaudreau as he skated through the neutral zone, and he fired a stretch pass ahead to Gaudreau.
Gaudreau skated in on Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry, deked to his right and slipped a backhand shot underneath a sprawling Jarry. The goal gave the Blue Jackets a 3-2 win in overtime, their first against Pittsburgh this season and their second straight game with at least one point.
With the win, the Blue Jackets are now 25-47-9 on the season and sit 30th in the NHL standings with 59 points heading into Friday's season finale against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Penguins had their string of 16 straight playoff berths snapped on Wednesday, and thus entered Thursday's game — their final game of the season — lacking the intensity that characterizes most matchups between the two Metropolitan Division rivals.
Though the Blue Jackets had four players making their NHL debuts, and dressed 11 total players with fewer than 100 games of NHL experience, they emerged with the upper hand.
"It was different," Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. "You could tell. (The Penguins) weren’t at their best. They were low on energy. You can understand. Sixteen straight years. It was a different feel, for sure. I mean, we had — look at the lineup we had. We had a lot of kids in there. They provided us with some energy.
"It wasn’t your typical, in-your-face type of game. The players play. They go out and they compete. That’s what they do. They found a way tonight."
One of four players making their NHL debut on Thursday, defenseman Stanislav Svozil was sent to the penalty box for holding just over four minutes into the first period. Sixteen seconds into the ensuing penalty, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead on a shot from defenseman Kris Letang at the right point that found its way past goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
Early in the second period, defenseman Andrew Peeke tied the game with a shot from distance that sailed through the offensive zone and over Jarry's shoulder. Center Hunter McKown won a faceoff straight back to Peeke, and Peeke wasted no time in unleashing the shot.
The Blue Jackets went on the power play midway through the second period, looking to take the lead, but they didn't generate a shot on goal during the man advantage and spent most of the power play defending in their own zone.
To begin the third period, forward Mikael Pyyhtia tripped Penguins forward Jason Zucker, giving Pittsburgh its second power play of the game. As they did the first time, the Penguins quickly scored, this time taking a 2-1 lead at the 3:53 mark of the third period.
The Blue Jackets failed to score on two more power plays in the third period, but they went back on the man advantage with just over five minutes left to play. The first unit struggled, as it had throughout the game, but the second unit, manned by Svozil, created the game-tying goal.
As Svozil dragged a defender with him toward the boards, he slid the puck across the ice to Pyyhtia above the right circle. Pyyhtia spotted forward Emil Bemstrom with space in the left circle, and he fired a pass across to Bemstrom for a one-timer.
Bemstrom's goal was enough to send the game to overtime, and in overtime, though the Penguins had control of the puck for the first 45 seconds, the Blue Jackets secured the win on Gaudreau's breakaway goal.
"Feels good to beat them every single time," Peeke said. "Haven’t beat them this year, so it’s always nice to, in a year like this, get a win at home in front of our fans."
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Blue Jackets beat Penguins in overtime on Johnny Gaudreau goal