Marc-Andre Fleury got the job done between the pipes while Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby each contributed a goal on Monday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 at Consol Energy Center.
The victory gave the Black and Gold a record of 21-10-1 and 43 points as they not only lead the Metropolitan Division, but now own the best record in the Eastern Conference. Dan Bylsma’s crew is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. The Blue Jackets are in seventh place in the Metro with a record of 12-15-3, 16 points behind the Penguins.
Following a scoreless first period that saw the Jackets control much of play, Pittsburgh’s Jussi Jokinen picked up the puck on the red line near the boards and sent a cross-ice pass to Malkin early in the second. He carried the puck to the front of the Columbus net on his backhand and switched to his forehand as he sent a wrist shot past goaltender Curtis McElhinney for his eighth goal of the season at 4:16 .
Crosby got his 16th goal of the season as he gave the Pens a 2-0 lead with 11:08 remaining in the third period after a backhand pass from left wing Pascal Dupuis deflected off the Pittsburgh captain as he and Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno came together on the net.
Fleury turned away 32 of 33 shots and came within inches of scoring his first NHL goal on an open Columbus net late in the third period. He lost the shutout seconds later when Columbus left wing Matt Calvert scored his second goal of the season as he sent a wrist shot past Fleury with 56 seconds left in the game.
The Penguins will host the New Jersey Devils (12-13-6, 30 points) on Friday, and the opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: Pittsburgh left wings James Neal and Harry Zolnierczyk along with defenseman Brian Dumoulin were the scratches…The Pens won 26 faceoffs as a team. Crosby won eight of his and center Brandon Sutter won nine of 21…The Penguins had a crowd of 18,520 at Consol Energy Center.