During the first shift of Friday’s Penguins – Blue Jackets game, Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky battled it out. Dubinsky ended up getting the last laugh with a brilliant overtime game-winner in a thrilling 2-1 overtime win for Columbus.
If you love to dismiss scoring worries by saying that a 2-1 game can be exciting, you might want to bookmark this one.
For one thing, there was that physicality that makes this rivalry something that can build into the disdain between Ohio and Pennsylvania sports teams. There was also some drama, including at least one goal that maybe shouldn’t have been whistled off. Evgeni Malkin also collected his 500th assist while Matt Murray made a brilliant late third period save on Brandon Saad to at least salvage a point for the Penguins.
The two teams combined for almost 80 shots on goal, with a ton of chances coming in regulation. Here’s a pretty, video-game-like way of depicting the action:
Dubinsky’s overtime game-winner ended up being the decisive blow in a game that very well might serve as an enticing appetizer for a first-round series of conference finals quality.
Tremendous stuff. For fans of the Penguins and Blue Jackets, a first-round matchup would be less than welcome. If a series was anything like tonight’s game, it would be must-see TV for the rest of us.
Here’s an updated look at the Metro’s races for the second and third spots:
2. Penguins – 80 points in 57 games (36 wins, 34 ROW)
3. Blue Jackets – 79 points in 57 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)
Rangers – 75 points in 57 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)
The Capitals aren’t totally bulletproof for the division crown, even with 84 standings points, a game in hand and a six-game winning streak in mind. Still, at least tonight, it was tough to shake the mental picture of a possible battle between the Blue Jackets and the Penguins.