Recap & Observations: Blue Jackets Beat Penguins 5-1 in Preseason Home-opener

By Coby Maeir on September 25, 2022 at 8:36 pm
Patrik Laine & Kent Johnson
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Total domination.


The Jackets opened their preseason home schedule with a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the back half of a split-squad doubleheader Sunday night.

Elvis Merzlikins passed an early test, saving back-to-back point-blank shots just over six minutes into the game.

The Jackets would open the scoring as Justin Danforth deflected a Jake Christiansen left-point shot past Penguins goalie Dustin Tokarski with 12:45 to go in the first period. Christiansen and Jakub Voracek picked up the assists.

  1 2 3 F
PENGUINS 0 0 1 1

The Jackets entered the first intermission with a 1-0 lead but trailed in the shots on goal department 13-7.

Columbus doubled its lead 8:03 into the period when Andrew Peeke's pass from the right circle to the left circle found Patrik Laine who one-timed it home. Johnny Gaudreau picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

That goal was just the beginning of Columbus' offensive outburst in the second period. Just 64 seconds after Laine scored, the Jackets scored on the power-play when Jakub Voracek stuffed home a rebound from a Justin Danforth shot. Gaudreau picked up his second secondary assist of the night.

With 6:28 remaining in the second period, Gustav Nyquist scored from a tough angle following a net mouth scramble that was preceded by Justin Danforth hitting the post. Voracek picked up the primary helper for his second assist of the night and Samuel Knazko picked up the secondary assist.

After two periods, the Jackets had a 4-0 lead and a 23-20 edge in shots on goal. 

Jet Greaves replaced Merzlikins in net after two periods and stopped several grade-A chances through the first eight minutes of the third frame.

But, with 11:51 to play in regulation, Justin Frasca got Pittsburgh on the board on the man-advantage to cut the Jackets' lead to 4-1. Danton Heinen and Jack St. Ivany picked up the assists. 

With 5:37 in regulation, Danforth scored his second goal of the night on the power-play. He one-timed a slap-shot from the bumper spot after receiving a feed from Gaudreau, who picked up his third assist of the night. Adam Boqvist recorded the secondary assist.

That 5-1 score would hold and the Blue Jackets picked up their first win of the preseason in dominant fashion.

Final Stats:

  • SOG: 34-32 PIT
  • PP: CBJ 2/3, PIT 0/5
  • Hits: 19-18 CBJ

Injury Update

Defenseman Ben Harpur suffered an injury during a fight in the game at Pittsburgh earlier Sunday. The Athletic's Aaron Portzline reported that he traveled back to Columbus with the club.



  • Merzlikins was magnificent. He stopped all 20 shots he faced including several high-danger chances (the Penguins had six high-danger chances through two periods according to Greaves was also great, making three high-danger saves (via NST). 
  • The Gaudreau-Johnson-Laine line dominated. The trio combined for eight scoring chances (via NST) at 5v5. 
  • The Nyquist-Danforth-Voracek line was great, too. They combined for two goals and four points at 5v5 in addition to five scoring chances, three of which were of the high-danger variety (via NST). 
  • Tough night for Erik Gudbranson. He had two giveaways that I saw, one that led to a breakaway, and one that led to a Blue Jackets penalty. 
  • Power-play unit: Zach Werenski at the point, Laine at the left-wing, Gaudreau at the right-wing, Danforth at the bumper, and Voracek in front of the net.

Sound bites

  • Pascal Vincent was pleased with Johnson's play tonight. "We talked about d-zone coverage and neutral zone forecheck and that's where my eyes were," Vincent said. "That's what I was watching, especially [with] a young player like him, and I thought he did really well."
  • Voracek on playing net-front on the power-play tonight: "It's good. You get a lot of garbage."

Next Up

The Jackets host the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. ET at Nationwide Arena. The game will be broadcast live on, the CBJ app, and on 97.1FM The Fan.

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