Penguins shoot themselves with penalties
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A gluttony of Penguins penalties turned into a gaggle of goals for the Blue Jackets on Sunday night at Nationwide Arena.
The Penguins didn’t have a lot of their regulars because of playing back-to-back games against Columbus, but that doesn’t excuse the sloppy play that resulted in 46 penalty minutes and four power-play goals in a 5-3 drubbing by the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets (4-2-0) took a 3-0 after the first period behind a staggering shot differential of 18-3. Columbus led 5-0 before the Penguins (2-2-1) scored three goals, including two in the final seven minutes.
“You can’t blame the referees, the rules are the rules,” Penguins coach Rick Kehoe said. “We put ourselves in a hole in the first two periods. We were short-handed for 20 minutes, so we worked on our penalty killing a lot tonight.”
In trying to get rid of the holding that has slowed down the game, the NHL plans to call more penalties to open up play, and referees are doing so in the preseason.
“They’ve obviously been told to call anything they see, especially in preseason they want to send a message,” said Penguins center Randy Robitaille, who had an assist yesterday. “I don’t think it’s going to be that crazy in the regular season.”
The new style of play is a learning process for every team, especially in this game as both teams received penalties of the variety (holding, interference, hooking) that the league is trying to diminish.
“You just have to work harder,” Robitaille said. “Most of the penalties they are cracking down are lazy penalties, hooking and obstruction. You have to skate. I think that’s what they are trying to do with these new rules.”
At the 12:52 mark of the first period, Penguins defenseman Hans Jonsson made a bad situation worse when his high-sticking penalty resulted in a four-minute double minor penalty with the Penguins already down two men. Jonsson’s infraction continued an unsettling trend in the first period, as the Penguins had 16 penalty minutes.
The Penguins finally paid for their penalties when Columbus defenseman Jaroslav Spacek stuffed back a rebound off a shot by Geoff Sanderson on a two-man advantage at 14:33 of the first period.
It didn’t take long for the Penguins to commit more infractions, actually less than a minute, when winger Eric Meloche received an unsportsmanlike penalty and defenseman Dick Tarnstrom got one for tripping at 15:32 of the first period.
The Blue Jackets’ power play continued to click, as Geoff Sanderson scored off a feed from Ray Whitney on the two-man advantage less than 50 seconds after the penalties by Meloche and Tarnstrom to make the score 3-0.
Lost in the barrage of power plays and offense was the play of Penguins goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin, who made several quality saves.
“You try to keep it together no matter what the score was,” said Aubin, who had 30 saves. “You try to keep going hard and making the good saves. You try to keep in the moment and go from there.”
The Blue Jackets added two more power play goals just 24 seconds apart in the second period.
“I don’t feel like I had a bad game,” Aubin said. “I felt I was mentally strong and that’s all I was looking for tonight. You got to look at the goals you gave up. If you don’t feel like you gave up bad goals, that’s all that matters.”
In all, Aubin faced 12 power plays, including eight in the first period.
“He kept us in it,” Kehoe said. “They could have had a couple more power play goals.”