The first period shot the Pens ahead.
The Penguins didn’t waste any time getting on the board. Evgeni Malkin scored his twentieth of the season just 3:51 into the period.
Less than two minutes later, it was Evan Rodrigues’s turn to take the monkey off his back and score his nineteenth of the year. Hopefully Erod can use this as momentum for the playoffs to go on another scoring spree as he did in the first half of the season.
Marcus Pettersson didn’t want to be left out and scored less than a minute later, putting the Penguins up by a controlling three-goal lead.
As they have done all year, Columbus didn’t go away, putting on their hardhats and digging deep to try and score on a flaming hot Casey DeSmith, who shut the door.
Sloppy turnover gives Columbus life heading into 3rd period.
Of course, just as I say how well DeSmith is playing, he mishandles the puck after a dump-in, leading to a goal from Justin Danforth.
This would prove to be a momentum swinger for the Blue Jackets, even though they gave up two goals within the last 3:30 of the second period.
Penalty trouble for Pens gives Columbus two goals.
The Pens shot themselves in the foot in the third period, taking two penalties late in the game.
Pens now turn to Rangers for first round of 2022 playoffs.
After capping off the regular season with a shaky win over Columbus, the Pens now need to retreat and regroup in the coming days before they kick off the playoffs in Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have had the Pens number all season, winning three of the four meetings between the two clubs.
In the sole win against the Rangers, the Pens only notched one goal.
If the Pens want to win this series, they need all four lines rolling and the defense to control the blue line to manage the Rangers transition game.
Hopefully this three day break is enough rest to energize the Pens and get back to the dominant level of play they had through January.
Could that fateful March of the Penguins prove to be too much of a toll taken on this team to go deep in playoffs?
We’ll find out in the next two weeks.