McCann, Second-Period Burst Leads Penguins past Blue Jackets

PITTSBURGH — Jared McCann scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguins had five goals in the second period to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 on Saturday night.

Pittsburgh scored five goals on 14 second-period shots. The last time Pittsburgh scored five goals in a period came on Jan. 16, 2017 against Washington.

The Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin left in the second period and did not return with an undisclosed injury. He ran into D Kris Letang near centre ice and awkwardly fell into the boards. Malkin, the 2012 NHL MVP, scored a power-play goal in the season-opening loss Thursday against Buffalo.

McCann tied a career high with three points. The other time came as a member of the Florida Panthers when he had a goal and two assists on March 20, 2018. McCann scored two goals once with Pittsburgh on March 23 last season against Dallas.

Penguins center Jared McCann
Penguins center Jared McCann (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Letang had a power-play goal, while Teddy Blueger and Marcus Pettersson also scored for Pittsburgh. Alex Galchenyuk, acquired from Arizona in a trade for Phil Kessel, recorded two assists for his first two points with Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby also had two assists.

Matt Murray made 28 saves and is now two wins from 100 in his NHL career.

Gustav Nyquist scored his first goal for Columbus and Zach Werenski scored for the Blue Jackets, who lost their second game in as many days. Columbus lost its season-opener 4-1 to Toronto at home. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 31 shots in his NHL debut.

Pittsburgh opened the scoring at 1:45 of the second when Hornqvist tipped Jack Johnson’s point shot past Merzlikins. The Penguins took a 2-0 lead 2:29 later when Pettersson’s shot from the top of the left circle caromed off Merzlikins’ glove and behind the line.

Not long after Pittsburgh’s second goal, Werenski was left alone at the right side of the crease and cut the Blue Jackets’ deficit in half.

But the Penguins regained their two-goal cushion, 3-1, two minutes later when McCann sent a blocker-side wrist shot behind Merzlikins during a two-on-one.

Columbus Blue Jackets Elvis Merzlikins
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

McCann scored his second of the game 14 seconds after a fighting major to Crosby. McCann took a backhand pass from Galchenyuk at the blueline and sent another blocker-side wrist shot past Merzlikins.

Letang scored Pittsburgh’s fifth goal of the second period with 1.2 seconds to play. He beat Merzlikins with a slap shot from the right faceoff dot.


Crosby passed Larry Murphy for sole possession of 42nd-place on the NHL’s all-time points list with 1,218. … Werenski, with 39 goals, is two from the Blue Jackets’ record for most by a defenceman. … Murray has nine wins in 12 games all-time against Columbus. … Pittsburgh has won eight straight home games against Columbus and 16 of 20 all-time. … The Penguins have won eight of their last 10 games against Columbus. … Brandon Tanev and Dominik Kahun, acquired in the off-season, recorded their first points with Pittsburgh.

Up Next

Blue Jackets: Host Buffalo on Monday

Penguins: Continue a season-opening four-game homestand Tuesday against Winnipeg.

Dan Scifo, The Associated Press