After a pretty bad collapse in the loss to the Bruins on Saturday night the Penguins were able to come back and pick up a big win against Columbus. I don't think the game was overly entertaining, in fact it was pretty boring, but they did what they had to do and that was take two points from a division opponent. I will take that every time.
The Penguins took a 2-0 lead and things looked pretty good for Marc-Andre Fleury to get his league-leading fourth shutout of the season but he finally surrendered a goal to the Blue Jackets with 56 seconds left. After that there was plenty of time for Columbus to make another run and score another goal and after Saturday it would be foolish to think that the Penguins had this one 100% in the bag. They did get the win though and without like all of the opening night defenseman I think I will take wins no matter how they come.
MAF was just so solid tonight. The game was a little boring so it might not really seem like he had a lot of work tonight but all he did was stop 32 of the 33 shots he faced and bounced back from a pretty bad end to the game on Saturday. He almost scored a goal too. With the goaltender pulled for Columbus MAF got a little bit of a seam and fired the puck down the ice as he's done many times before but this one missed by only inches. Seriously there aren't many more things I want to see happen during Penguins games than MAF scoring a goal. The celebration would be legendary. Outside of the almost goal MAF was just outstanding as he has been all year. People are still going to point to the playoffs but MAF has been one of the best in the league so far this season. Hard to deny that.
The Penguins learned they were going to be missing James Neal for five games following his kneeing on Saturday in Boston so that made the team even more thin than they already were. Thankfully the Penguins got back Evgeni Malkin and all he did was score the first goal. Oh yea, they also have the leading point scorer in the league and he deflected in the Penguins second goal. Kinda nice to have those two players.
Big kudos to the blue line, especially Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen, and Olli Maatta. Those three played some big time minutes and while Columbus isn't a great hockey team with how banged up the Penguins are on the backend they did a really nice job of keeping things at bay. Also big props to Deryk Engelland. I don't particularly like him playing over Robert Bortuzzo but he has played some pretty decent hockey over the most recent stretch and he played the third-most minutes among all defenseman.