Blue Jackets Beat Penguins, Take over Metropolitan Division Lead in NHL
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets faced off in an important NHL game on December 22nd in Columbus, with first place in the Metropolitan Division at stake. Columbus, the hottest team in the league with 10 straight victories, was trying to take over the division league from the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
Sidney Crosby got things going for Pittsburgh, scoring his league leading 23rd goal at 2:39 of the first period. After that, it was all Columbus. Cam Atkinson tied it with a goal at 13:01 of the first, and the teams entered the intermission tied at 1-1. The Blue Jackets added two in the second period, and four in the third, three of which were scored between the 2:44 and 3:35 marks, to win going away 7-1.
Scott Hartnell had a hat trick for the Blue Jackets, and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his league leading 20th win with a 25 save performance. Columbus improved to 22-5-4 (48 points), while Pittsburgh fell to 21-8-5 (47 points). The Penguins were tied with the New York Rangers for second in the division at the close of play on December 22nd. Columbus has little time to savor the win, however, as they host the Montreal Canadiens on December 23rd. Montreal is in first place in the Atlantic Division. Also on the 23rd, Pittsburgh returns home to take on the New Jersey Devils, while the New York Rangers will host the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are the next hottest team in the league, with nine straight wins. Minnesota trails Chicago in the Central Division by four points. So there are some premier matchups for hockey fans before the league takes the weekend off for Christmas.
Update: The Blue Jackets beat Montreal 2-1 for their 12th straight win on the 23rd to improve to 23-5-4 and are the first team to reach 50 points. Pittsburgh beat New Jersey 4-1 to stay a point behind. Minnesota won its 10th straight, beating the New York Rangers 7-4.