The Blue Jackets’ latest pre-season tune-up looked like the real deal.

It helped that it was against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning, are the Blue Jackets’ biggest rivals. There were Penguins fans who showed up in impressive numbers, a throng of Blue Jackets fans for the team’s final show and together they created the biggest pre-season audience at the Nationwide Arena. .

It was a welcome soundtrack for a game that saw some intense moments and a comeback for the Penguins after a two-goal deficit in the third period to win 4-3 in overtime.

Jason Zucker finished with a power play goal on a rebound at 1:18 in overtime for the Penguins, who scored goals from Chad Ruhwedel, Bryan Rust and Teddy Bleuger in regulation time. Rust and Bleuger scored 2:15 apart in the third to tie 3-3 and force overtime.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sean Kuraly and Max Domi scored for the Blue Jackets (4-3-1), who start the regular season Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.

Domi returned to a game well ahead of his scheduled schedule after surgery on June 4 to repair the labrum in his right shoulder. He played 13:12, had his shoulder tested on a good hit from Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and scored a receiving shot on goal to give the Jackets a 3-1 lead early in the third.

Kuraly’s goal was his first since signing with his hometown team as a free agent in July. He broke a 1-1 tie in the second period and made him smile, although that won’t officially count in his career stats.

“I’m glad I didn’t celebrate this goal too much, but I really wanted to,” said Kuraly, from Dublin. “I held on. I didn’t want to hear it from our guys or the rest of the other team. It was good to have a goal, but you start to feel that rink and you feel that you are on the safe side now with these fans behind us. Good performance tonight for a preseason game on a Saturday night. We’re starting to get the impression that hockey is just around the corner, which it is.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Sean Kuraly (7) kneels on the ground after being hit by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman (52) during the NHL game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday 9 October 2021.

Kuraly was also involved in a scuffle around the Penguins’ net in the first period.

After cutting Jarry while the goalie was out of his crease, Kuraly was stabbed in the mid section by Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman, then crossed on the ice, from behind, by Sam Lafferty. Kuraly stayed on the ground for a few moments before getting up and skating to the penalty bench to serve a minor interference with the goalie. Lafferty was assessed as a minor by cross-checking. Friedman was fined a major harpooning penalty and misconduct in the game, while supporters of both teams immediately stood up.

“To be honest, that really surprised me,” Kuraly said of Friedman piercing him. “I didn’t intentionally hit the goalkeeper. I didn’t want to have a penalty. I saw the replay. I ran into him. It was a penalty. He was outside of his fold, which didn’t matter, but I don’t think it was malicious or anything. I mean, they had a power play until they did.

It set the tone at the start of a physical game that gave each team a strong start to the regular season.

“It was great,” said Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen. “I thought it was a perfect way to end the preseason there. I thought both teams were skating hard. I really enjoyed what we did tonight.

Three stars

First of all

Teddy Blueger, Penguins, striker

Blueger scored an equalizer that forced OT and finished with two runs on a goal and an assist.


Max Domi, Blue Jackets, right winger

Domi returned to action after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason and added a goal while skating on the third line


Tristan Jarry, Penguins, goalkeeper

Jarry made 26 saves, including two against high-risk chances to prevent the Blue Jackets from increasing their lead.


The Penguins recovered with Rust’s third goal, which brought his team back to a 3-2 striking distance with 9:38 to go. The veteran forward intercepted a clearing attempt by Blue Jackets defenseman Mikko Lehtonen in the neutral zone, then beat three Columbus defensemen to the net for goal.

Blueger tied 3-3 just 2:15 later, defenseman Jake Bean committed a high-stick minor double with 4:07 left and Pittsburgh was suddenly in the driver’s seat.

Saving the game

Facing a reckless run with time running out at the end of the first period, Jarry made a dazzling save on Jack Roslovic to keep the score 1-1 with 17 seconds left. Roslovic was at full speed and fired a shot through a wide opening on the right side of the net, but Jarry slid and stacked the pads to make the save.

The puck rebounds into the net after Columbus Blue Jackets right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) scored in the NHL game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

Distribution of objectives

First period

CBJ – Bjorkstrand (Jake Bean, GustavNyquist) 1-0 at 6:33

The Blue Jackets scored the first goal for the sixth time in eight exhibition games, taking a 1-0 lead over Bjorkstrand’s fifth goal of the preseason. After recovering Nyquist’s puck, Bean spotted Bjorkstrand uncovered in the low lunge and sent him a pass from the left wing. Bjorkstrand did the rest, landing a wrist shot at Jarry’s glove at 6:33 of the match.

PIT – Ruhwedel (Brock McGinn, Teddy Blueger) 1-1 at 5:05 pm

Carrying the puck to the left wing, Ruhwedel stopped in the face-off circle and fired a laser with a wrist shot over Merzlikins shoulder and under the crossbar with 2:55 to do in the period. The shot helped the Penguins return in a game the Blue Jackets controlled for most of the first 20 minutes.

Second period

CBJ – Kuraly (Eric Robinson, Vladislav Gavrikov) 2-1 at 1:25 p.m.

The Blue Jackets’ fourth line made the Penguins pay for not leaving their own zone cleanly. Gavrikov broke it and handed the puck to Robinson along the wall on the left wing. Spotting Kuraly making his way to the net, he slipped a quick backhand for an undisputed scoring chance from the left circle.

Kuraly put his shot under the crossbar to score with 6:35 left in the period. It was his first goal of the preseason and the first since signing with his hometown team in July as an unrestricted free agent.

Third period

CBJ – Domi (Cole Sillinger) 3-1 at 2:08

Sillinger played one of his best overall games of the preseason, centering the Jackets’ third line with Boone Jenner and Domi as wingers. On it, the 18-year-old pivot forced a turnaround into the Penguins’ zone and quickly found Domi’s opener for a receiving shot from the lunge. He got it all and Jarry had no chance to stop him.

PIT – Rust (unassisted) 3-2 at 10:22

Columbus paid the price for a stray out pass from defenseman Mikko Lehtonen, whose backhand chip in the neutral zone was picked up by Rust and brought back across the Blue Jackets’ blue line. Rust skated around three Blue Jackets, cut sharply in front of the net and slid the puck between Merzlikins’ pads for the goal.

PIT – Blueger (Dominik Simon, Kris Letang) 3-3 at 12:37

Minutes after Rust’s goal, a failed assignment to the Blue Jackets’ zone led to the tying goal that ultimately sent the game into overtime. Blueger was credited with it after his long top wrist shot in the right circle beat Merzlkins past the glove side. The puck appeared to have been redirected by one of his teammates in the enclave, but Blueger received the goal. Either way, it tied the game and gave Pittsburgh a boost.

Over time

PIT – Zucker (Jeff Carter, Letang) PPG 4-3 at 1:18

After committing an unnecessary penalty that nullified the second half of a four-minute power play in the final four minutes of the third, Zucker made amends by scoring the winner. Diving towards the right post, he recovered Jeff Carter’s shot from the net and sent him home to end the game.


“It was obviously something that I was looking to put under my feet and it was good to be back with the boys. I think that was the most important thing. When you’ve been on your own for so long, it’s nice to come back with your buddies. – Domi is back in action after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason on June 4.

“I felt more comfortable as the game progressed, especially playing with Domi and (Boone) Jenner. They’re two veterans of this league and they just let me play my game tonight and been a great support on the games and everything, very talkative there, and I think we built some chemistry over there. as the match progressed. Cole Sillinger on playing in the Jackets preseason final as an 18-year-old rookie center.

“Tonight was kind of like the first real NHL game, which is a good thing for our team. We have a lead. I think throughout the preseason we’ve shown we can put pucks in the net so we’re scoring enough. We just need to learn from tonight, be smart when you take the lead, and we’ll take some teaching points out of that. “- The Blue Jackets center Sean Kuraly on the intensity level of the preseason finale.

“You want to win the game, but I’m glad we found ourselves in this situation. Now is the time to go through it and it’s disappointing that we lost. I want them to feel that way. If it goes easily, it can be a little scary at times. It was certainly not easy, but I would say there was a lot to love tonight. I’ll put it that way. – Larsen on losing a two-goal lead and falling into overtime to end the preseason.

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