The Columbus Blue Jackets were looking for revenge on Tuesday night when they faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Jackets played the first game of the season against the Penguins back in October. Going into the third period, they were tied at three apiece when they let in three straight goals to lose that contest in heartbreaking fashion.
Columbus started strong out of the gate as they notched the first goal of the match just one minute in. They took that lead into the second period where they were outscored 3-0, thus opening the final frame down two scores.
The Penguins added an empty net goal in the third to win it 4-1.
The injuries continued to take their toll on the Blue Jackets as two more players made their NHL debuts for Columbus. Both skaters were selected by the team in the 2018 NHL Draft. Defenseman Tim Berni was selected in the sixth round while forward Kirill Marchenko was selected with the 49th overall pick in the second round.
Berni is now the second rookie on the CBJ's blue line, joining Marcus Bjork who was playing in his eleventh career game. Berni, like Bjork, is a low-profile player whose debut won't make any headlines. However, he will look to mirror the success of his fellow rookie defender as he tries to solidify his place on the club's roster.
Marchenko's debut was much anticipated as he finally made his way to North America this season and spent the first couple of months with the team's AHL Affiliate, Cleveland Monsters. The Russian left winger tore it up with the Monsters as he tallied 19 points in 16 games, the second-highest total amongst rookies in the AHL. He showed the ability to put the puck in the net with regularity as he notched eight goals.
Neither player was able to make a huge impact in this game, but both acquitted themselves well and gained valuable NHL experience.
Gaudreau Shines Again
Another look at that Johnny goal pic.twitter.com/6wfhxIXAR3— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 7, 2022
The result was not ideal for Columbus, however, their prized offseason acquisition continued to impress as he scored yet another goal. That makes nine goals and 27 total points on the season for him. He currently leads the team in points and is on pace for 92 this season, which would be a franchise record.
Elvis Merzlikins returned to the lineup for the first time in three weeks, following his injury. He would've liked to have a different result for his first game back, but he was able to turn away 30 shots. He finished with a .882 sv%, but that is a little misleading as the final goal he let in was more of an empty netter.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis [Merzlikins] was just about to leave the building... pic.twitter.com/itSi3w1de8— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 7, 2022
The Columbus Blue Jackets head back home to face the Buffalo Sabres at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday. The puck Drop is at 7:30 p.m. EST.