Elvis Merzlikins thought he would be getting tonight's record-setting game off. He was wrong.
Just 6:26 into the game, Marcus Pettersson gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead. That was all Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen needed to see, as he inserted Merzlikins into the game, replacing tonight's starter, Jean-François Bérubé. Opening the scoring for Pittsburgh was Evgeni Malkin, who was denied on his first shot from the front of the net, but was able to bury the rebound just 3:51 into the game. Just 100 seconds later, Evan Rodrigues doubled Pittsburgh's lead when he beat Berube five-hole from the edge of the right circle. And just 55 seconds after that, Petterson scored on the final shot Bérubé would see before being replaced.
The Jackets finished the final 1:16 of the first period with momentum, as they generated multiple chances on their second power-play of the game. However, like the first power-play, they were unsuccessful. Pittsburgh ended the period with a 3-0 lead and a 15-11 advantage in the shots-on-goal department.
Columbus was unable to score on its 44-second man-advantage to start the second period. Shortly after the Blue Jackets' power-play expired, they committed a penalty of their own. This was the first time Columbus was shorthanded, but they controlled the game during those two minutes. The first big chance for the Jackets came from Eric Robinson, who raced down the left-wing side on a shorthanded two on one, but was denied by the glove of Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith. Later in the Penguins' power-play, Justin Danforth and Robinson were able to generate another opportunity but were unable to score.
With 15:09 remaining in the period, the Jackets went on the power-play for the third time, but again were unable to score and did not generate a great deal of offense.
The Jackets were finally able to get on the board with 9:35 left in the period when Danforth finished off a Gabriel Carlsson shot that trickled through DeSmith. The goal is Danforth's 10th of the year and Carlsson picked up his seventh helper of the season. Columbus deserved a goal, as its play drastically improved in the second period.
Come forth, Danny pic.twitter.com/Q2KdSLTusN— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 30, 2022
With around five minutes remaining in the period, Pittsburgh countered with multiple high danger chances highlighted by a backhand attempt by Sidney Crosby, Merzlikins stopped every shot and kept the Columbus deficit at two.
But, with 3:30 to go in the period, Pittsburgh finally beat Merzlikins as Kris Letang found the back of the net from the right circle after receiving a cross-ice feed from Danton Heinen. They extended their lead to 5-1 with 1:06 to go when a Pettersson shot deflected off of Brian Boyle's body and in.
With 13:29 remaining in regulation, a hit by Carson Meyer on Teddy Blueger sparked a scrum after Blueger swung his stick and connected with Meyer's midsection. Multiple players from each team got involved, with Meyer going to the box for boarding along with Pittsburgh's Blueger and Rodrigues. This resulted in a Blue Jackets power-play.
With 13:02 remaining in regulation, the Jackets would convert on the man-advantage for the first time tonight as Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his 28th goal of the season and his fourth goal in as many games. Gustav Nyquist and Jakub Voracek picked up their 35th and 55th assists of the season, respectively. Nyquist picked up his 400th career point with that assist.
That goal was significant, and not only because it cut the Pittsburgh lead to 5-2, but it was also the 257th goal Columbus has scored this year, which marks a team single-season record.
Oliver Bjorkstrand makes it a 5-2 game with his team-leading 28th goal of the campaign. He's scored a goal in 4-straight while #CBJ has now scored a PPG in 6-straight. The Jackets score their 257th goal of the season, setting a new franchise record for goals in a campaign.— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) April 30, 2022
The Jackets would score on their next power-play as Nyquist scored his 18th goal of the season with 7:54 in regulation to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 5-3. Voracek and Jake Bean picked up their 56th and 18th helpers of the season, respectively.
That Voracek assist was his second of the night, bringing him to 800 career points. His 56 assists in a season are the second most in the franchise, trailing only Artemi Panarin, who posted 59 helpers in 2018-19.
With two assists tonight, Jakub Voracek has reached 800 career points. He's also picked up 56 assists this season, posting the 2nd-most assists in a single campaign in #CBJ history (Panarin, 59 in 2018-19). https://t.co/BBQBdCT41C— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) April 30, 2022
Neither team scored again. Columbus finished its regular season falling 5-3 to the Penguins.
- Shots on Goal: 50-36 PIT
- Face-off %: 63.9 % PIT - 36.1% CBJ
- PP: CBJ 2/5, PIT 0/3
- Hits: 18-16 PIT
- 3 stars: Evan Rodrigues (3), Evgeni Malkin (2), Marcus Pettersson (1).
Zach Werenski and Nick Blankenburg each missed their second consecutive game tonight with upper-body injuries. Patrik Laine, Boone Jenner, Adam Boqvist, Sean Kuraly, and Joonas Korpisalo were also unavailable for Columbus tonight.
Tonight was the final game of the 2021-22 season for the Columbus Blue Jackets. They finished with a record of 37-38-7, posting 81 standings points.