By Jason Mackey/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Another milestone achieved. Just not another emotional, overtime win for the Penguins.
Evgeni Malkin recorded his 500th NHL assist in the second period, but the Penguins dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday at Nationwide Arena.
Playing 24 hours after Sidney Crosby reached 1,000 points in his NHL career – when the Penguins were down to four healthy defensemen for more than half the game – the Penguins battled fatigued.
They were instead dropped by their biggest nemesis, which scored in the slot at 1:04 of overtime when center Brandon Dubinsky converted.
As a result, Columbus won for the second time in three meetings between these Metropolitan Division rivals this season. The fourth and final meeting will be April 4, the final home game of the season for the Penguins.
The Penguins came out with a strong push in the third. Sidney Crosby set up Jake Guentzel and Chris Kunitz.
Kunitz had a chance at a yawning cage at 10:42, but Blue Jackets defense Seth Jones got a piece of the puck.
Earlier, Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist executed a pretty give and go to give Hagelin an excellent chance. That line was money for much of the night.
Matt Murray kept the score tied at 1 with a pair of key saves in the final minute: a blocker stop on Boone Jenner and a glove save on Brandon Saad, in all alone with 37.7 seconds to go.
Columbus grabbed the momentum early in the second period, taking eight of the first nine shots on goal, and made it 1-0 at 1:33 when Ryan Murray shovelled a puck from the high slot and through a screen.
The goal came after Crosby appeared to beat Sergei Bobrovsky and even hit a post for good measure.
After Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson hit the crossbar, Ian Cole snuck a shot from the left point through traffic to tie it at 1 at 6:13.
Malkin picked up the assist, his 500th in the NHL. He’s the fourth to do it in a Penguins uniform, joining Mario Lemieux (1,033), Jaromir Jagr (640) and Crosby (633).
A crucial call kept Columbus from taking a 2-1 lead at 12:12 of the second period, the second disallowed goal for the Blue Jackets in this one.
Officials ruled the Penguins had taken possession on a delayed penalty call before right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand had scored, negating the goal.
The first period featured no goals but a ton of entertainment, including Dubinsky and Crosby exchanging a few words and shoves within the first minute.
It looked like Columbus left wing Boone Jenner might have given Columbus a 1-0 lead at 5:45, but officials correctly ruled that he made early contact with Murray.
With Olli Maatta (hand) and Justin Schultz (concussion) out, Chad Ruhwedel and Steve Oleksy were more than serviceable as their replacements.
Jaromir Jagr earned his 760th career goal as Florida scored three times in less than six minutes during the second period in a victory over Anaheim at the Honda Center.
The 45-year-old Jagr, who ranks third in NHL career goal scoring, now needs 41 to tie Hall of Famer Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky finished his Hall-of-Fame career with 894 goals. Colton Sceviour, Aaron Ekblad and Derek MacKenzie also scored for the Panthers while Andrew Cogliano scored his 12th goal for the Ducks.
Meanwhile Mikko Rantanen scored with 36.4 seconds left in overtime as Colorado snapped its five-game losing streak with a victory over Carolina.
Rantanen scored his 12th of the season, taking a feed on a 2-on-1 rush from Matt Duchene, beating Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward with a one-timer and snapping the Avalanche’s six-game skid at PNC Arena dating to February 2009. Tyson Barrie opened the scoring with his fourth of the season for the Avalanche Jeff Skinner scored his team-leading 19th for the Hurricanes.
Panthers 4 Ducks 1
Blue Jackets 2 Penguins 1
(OT)Avalanche 2 Hurricanes 1 (OT)
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