McCann scores twice, Penguins beat Blue Jackets 5-2
By MITCH STACY
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 26
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — After the Columbus Blue Jackets beefed up their roster at the NHL trade deadline for a Metropolitan Division playoff run, the injury-plagued Pittsburgh Penguins came to town looking more vulnerable than usual.
Missing some top defensemen, the Penguins jumped out to a three-goal lead anyway and then held off the new-look Blue Jackets, cruising to a 5-2 win Tuesday night in a game marked by monster hits and scuffles.
Jared McCann scored twice and Matt Murray made 21 saves as Pittsburgh — which began the day tied for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference — snapped a two-game skid.
The Penguins were without blue-liners Kris Letang (upper body) and Brian Dumoulin (concussion), who were hurt in the outdoor game Saturday at Philadelphia. Pittsburgh defenseman Ollie Maata was already on injured reserve with a separated shoulder.
But the Penguins held Columbus in check, even after another defenseman, Chad Ruhwedel, went out after a big hit from Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno. Ruhwedel and wing Bryan Rust, injured in a violent collision with Columbus newcomer Adam McQuaid, will be evaluated Wednesday, coach Mike Sullivan said.
Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby also scored for Pittsburgh.
“We’ve got nothing but character in here, for sure,” Murray said. “It’s tough seeing teammates go down, they were important guys for us, so we had a job to do and tonight everybody stepped up, so it was awesome to see.”
Oliver Bjorkstrand and Cam Atkinson scored and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 22 shots for the Blue Jackets, who lost after posting back-to-back shutouts last week and making a flurry of moves before Monday’s trade deadline. Columbus started the day in third place in the division.
Columbus added center Matt Duchene, wing Ryan Dzingel, defenseman McQuaid and goalie Keith Kinkaid. All but Kinkaid played on Tuesday night, with Dzingel, a former star at Ohio State, picking up an assist for his new team.
Crosby sent a centering pass from the left corner to Guentzel in the slot and he went top shelf on Bobrovsky with 6:15 left in the first period to open the scoring.
McCann made it 2-0 late in the period when he rifled one in with the unwitting assistance of Columbus defender David Savard, who appeared to keep Bobrovsky from seeing the puck until it was past him. Malkin extended it to 3-0 early in the second with a long, rising shot from the left point.
“They’re an opportunistic team,” Foligno said. “They’re quick-strike, they don’t need many chances to score goals. Disappointing that we didn’t show up in the first (period). We can’t get in a hole like that.”
Bjorkstrand got Columbus on the board when he charged in and shot over Murray’s glove later in the second, and Atkinson scored his team-leading 35th goal on a power play when Artemi Panarin’s hard shot deflected right to him in the right circle.
But the Blue Jackets couldn’t tie it.
McCann banged a wrist shot past Bobrovsky with 6:33 left in the game, and Crosby scored an empty-net goal with five seconds remaining, giving the Penguins superstar a goal and an assist on the evening. He has 27 goals and 50 assists this season.
“We came out hard, kind of let up there in the second but had to find a way to get two points,” Murray said.
NOTES: Columbus forward Boone Jenner played in his 400th game with the Blue Jackets. … D Erik Gudbranson, obtained Monday from Vancouver, didn’t play for Pittsburgh because he’s going through the immigration process.
Penguins: At the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
Blue Jackets: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
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NHL Trade Roundup
Mark Stone was considered the best player available as the NHL trade deadline approached, a 26-year-old forward who consistently has 60 points a season.
The Vegas Golden Knights made a calculated gamble to acquire him Monday in the boldest move around the league simply because of the steep price paid in their bid to win the Stanley Cup. Vegas gave up 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom, a prized prospect, a 2020 second-round pick and seldom-used forward Oscar Lindberg.
“This type of player doesn’t come available very often,” Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said. “We believe he is one of the best all-around players in the NHL.”
Columbus, meanwhile, bolstered depth by adding defenseman Adam McQuaid from the New York Rangers and goaltender Keith Kinkaid from New Jersey after previously picking up forwards Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene.
“I feel we have a really good team and this gives us an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.
The Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets made one big deal, acquiring forward Kevin Hayes, and a series of smaller ones to keep pace with Western Conference contenders such as Pacific Division-leading Calgary, San Jose, Nashville and Vegas.
“It’s an exciting time for lots of franchises around the league that were able to add players,” said Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who traded forward Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Nick Jensen to San Jose and Washington. “Lots of teams added lots of good players, so it’s shaping up for an exciting Stanley Cup playoff.”
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Columbus chose not to deal star forward Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky along with their expiring contracts for high picks and promising prospects. The 26-year-old Dzingel is perhaps the most significant addition, putting a player with a career-high 44 points in the lineup.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils got the dealing started early on NHL trade deadline day. Columbus acquired goaltender Keith Kinkaid from New Jersey for a 2022 fifth-round pick. Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen says his team is strong in goal with Sergei Bobrovsky and Joonas Korpisalo but that Kinkaid provides some depth. This is the Blue Jackets’ third trade in the past four days after acquiring forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel in separate deals with the Ottawa Senators.
In a subtle move for a team with solid playoff positioning, forward Marcus Johansson was acquired from the New Jersey Devils for a second-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick next year. Johansson has 27 points this season and is capable of more, producing a career-high 58 points with Washington two years ago.
The NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning stood pat, appearing to be content with a double-digit lead over the rest of the league with a stacked team from front to back. And the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders did not make a trade in the NHL’s only division that has five teams with 70-plus points.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The slumping team should get a quick return on its investment in Stone. He has 62 points — two short of his career high this season — and 311 points in 366 career games.
“You hope it brings something,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “Obviously the players know who Mark Stone is, they know he’s a great player. One of the top players in the league and he should definitely bring a lot of energy to our room.”
It appears to be a move for short- and long-term goals, because Stone said on Canada’s TSN he agreed to a long-term contract extension with the second-year franchise.
“We would not have done a rental,” McPhee said. “Too much risk in that.”
Nashville got stronger up front, acquiring wingers Mikael Granlund (Minnesota) and Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia). Granlund, who has 49 points, averaged 68 points the previous two years. If he can do that again, it may be enough to help the Predators outlast the Jets in the division.
Hayes was perhaps the second-best player available, averaging 43-plus points over five seasons with the New York Rangers, and it cost a package that included a first-round pick to get him.
“You have to be comfortable with the acquisition price,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said.
Winnipeg advanced in the playoffs last year for the first time since moving from Atlanta in 2011 and knows it needs all the help it to top last year’s run that ended against Vegas in the conference finals. The Jets made six trades on deadline day.
The Western Conference leaders added only Oscar Fantenberg from the Los Angeles Kings because they don’t need much help. Fantenberg, a defenseman with three points in 46 games this season, does provide insurance on the blue line in case of injuries.