Thu, 26 May 2022

Jackets ride momentum into game vs. streaking Penguins

Field Level Media
21 Jan 2022, 14:55 GMT+10

The Columbus Blue Jackets go into a game Friday against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins knowing that, for one night at least, it was mission accomplished.

The Blue Jackets got spanked 9-2 by the Florida Panthers on Saturday, then had to live with that memory until they got to play again Thursday. They responded with a much tighter game, a 2-1 road win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

"You're happy about it for a couple minutes, and then we've got another one (Friday) against Pittsburgh," Columbus center Sean Kuraly said.

Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said his club used the time between games to work out some kinks during practice.

"They owned it, and there was very little push-back," Larsen said. "They know it. They felt it. We've dealt with it. We had some good workdays. That's the positive sign from this."

Defenseman Zach Werenski went as far as to suggest that having the loss hang over the Blue Jackets for several days was something the team needed.

"To be honest, I think it could be good for our group," Werenski said. "This could be a good reset for us to review our structure."

Columbus has won two of three but is 3-5-0 this month.

With goaltender Elvis Merzlikins playing against the Flyers, it seems likely that the Blue Jackets will go with Joonas Korpisalo on Friday.

This will be the first meeting of the season between the Metropolitan Division rival Blue Jackets and Penguins.

Pittsburgh, also playing on consecutive nights Friday, has won three straight and 14 of 16 but is looking for more in terms of style and system.

On Thursday, for example, the Penguins built a four-goal lead but still had to stave off a comeback by the visiting Ottawa Senators to hold on for a 6-4 win.

"Pretty ugly game on our part," Pittsburgh center Jeff Carter told ATT Sportsnet. "We need to get our game kind of in check here. We've been slipping a little lately. We've been getting some wins, but we've got to step up a little bit."

For the third time in four games Thursday, the Penguins allowed 40 or more shots.

"Our net-front (play in the defensive end) especially has been an issue," said Pittsburgh defenseman Mike Matheson, who had two goals and an assist Thursday. "We've been giving up a lot in the slot and around our net. As defensemen, that's your No. 1 job -- to be hard in front of your net, hard to play against, good on boxouts when point shots come in so that (our goaltender) can see it and smother any rebounds."

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan noted that his team faced an expected tough night in its first game after an extended trip to the West Coast, but he also expects more moving forward.

"We've got to find a way to get locked in," Sullivan said.

The Penguins might have elected to give goaltender Louis Domingue his second start with the team on Friday after he seemingly was ready to give Casey DeSmith a push for the backup spot behind Tristan Jarry, who started Thursday.

However, Domingue, who was scheduled to be the backup Thursday, took a shot off his foot during the morning skate and wound up on injured reserve. As a result, DeSmith likely will start against Columbus.

--Field Level Media

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