Carter and Smith score late as Penguins pull away from Blue Jackets 5-3 to end 3-game skid

Tue, Mar 5, 2024
NHL News (AP)

Carter and Smith score late as Penguins pull away from Blue Jackets 5-3 to end 3-game skid

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jeff Carter and Reilly Smith scored just over a minute apart midway through the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 on Tuesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Blue Jackets tied it earlier in the period on a short-handed goal by Jack Roslovic before Carter and Smith beat rookie goaltender Jet Greaves to give the Penguins some breathing room.

Rickard Rakell turned a fluky redirect for his ninth goal of the season, Evgeni Malkin collected his 18th and Jesse Puljujarvi added his first for the Penguins. Ryan Graves had two assists. Smith added a pair of assists to cross the career 500-point mark.

Tristan Jarry stopped 34 shots as Pittsburgh bounced back from a nightmarish western road trip by improving to 10-0-1 in its last 11 meetings with Columbus.

Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Peeke scored 57 seconds apart in the second period to briefly erase a two-goal deficit. Greaves finished with 26 saves in his fourth career start.

The Penguins limped in having seen whatever slim playoff chances they had likely evaporate following road losses to Seattle, Calgary and Edmonton. The last two were particularly painful, with Pittsburgh squandering a two-goal third period lead against the Flames to lose in regulation and then getting blown out by the Oilers the next day.

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While captain Sidney Crosby among others has stressed he's not ready to give up, with the Penguins entering Tuesday as close to the last-place Blue Jackets as a playoff spot, first-year general manager/director of hockey operations Kyle Dubas will likely be a seller before Friday's trade deadline.

Star forward Jake Guentzel - currently out with an upper-body injury but eligible to come off injured reserve as early as Sunday - could be gone by the weekend. So could Smith, who has cooled off considerably following a hot start after being acquired in a trade with Las Vegas last summer.

The Penguins found their legs quickly, converting turnovers into first-period goals by Puljujarvi and Malkin, who has now scored in consecutive games for the first time since December.

Columbus evened the game briefly in the second before one of the flukier goals of the season put the Penguins back in front. Pittsburgh was on the power play when Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson attempted a clear from behind the Columbus net. The puck instead hit Rakell's skate and made its way by a surprised Greaves.

Roslovic tied it 8:04 into the third but the Penguins - who have struggled to maintain third-period leads of late, one of the reasons they're in danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight season - responded by continuing their mastery over the Blue Jackets.

UP NEXT

Blue Jackets: Host Edmonton on Thursday night.

Penguins: Host Alex Ovechkin and Washington on Thursday night.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com.hub/NHL

WILL GRAVES Graves is a national writer for The Associated Press, based in Pittsburgh. He covers the NFL, MLB, NHL, the Olympics and major college sports. twitter facebook mailto "
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