NHL Hockey

Penguins aim to extend streak vs. Blue Jackets

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets, who meet Friday night in Columbus, might well have had differing thoughts on Thanksgiving.

The Penguins could have raised a glass to their latest showing of stamina and survival, while the Blue Jackets looked for ways to carve out better nights ahead.

The Penguins' 8-6 comeback win Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks, when they scored six -- count 'em, six -- goals in the third period was one that could stick with them.

"We love our resilience that this group shows," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's just a never-say-die attitude. Regardless of what the score is or what the challenge is in front of us, we just go out there and play. That's what I've really grown to admire about the group that we have this year."

The Penguins, who have won three straight and are 4-0-2 in their past six, have been socked with a long list of injuries, and that includes several key players.

At the moment, team captain Sidney Crosby is out until around the end of the calendar year after having sports hernia surgery Nov. 14. One of the players who has stepped up to fill in the gap is fellow superstar center Evgeni Malkin.

"He's one of the best players in the world," winger Jake Guentzel, normally Crosby's left winger and now playing with Malkin, said of the big Russian. "Just the way he's playing right now, it's special to see and be a part of it. You just want to give him the puck as much as you can."

Wednesday against Vancouver, Malkin had two goals and three assists. He had his turn earlier with a longer-term, undisclosed injury, but in 14 games he has six goals, 19 points.

Malkin is living up to a promise he made to come back strong from a down season in 2018-19.

"Of course, I'm not happy about what I (did) last year," Malkin, 33, said Wednesday night. "How many years left can I play pro hockey? I just enjoy every day. I know I'm a great player. I played hockey all my life. Just enjoy it. We have a couple of bad injuries right now, and I understand it's my time. I try to do my best. ... It's a fun game right now for me."

The Blue Jackets are on the opposite end of that spectrum.

After winning four of five, they sustained what they considered a self-inflicted 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers because of a string of penalties.

"It just kills you," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "It's just a focus. It's an understanding, and it's a commitment to your team, and we didn't have it from everyone. ... We lost ourselves."

Columbus sits at .500 but is beating itself up over some lost opportunities -- with Wednesday's loss the latest that is hard to swallow.

"We dumbed ourselves into a loss," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It's frustrating. I'm frustrated for them because you just don't give yourself a chance."

But in the NHL chances come frequently, and Columbus gets another Friday.

"This is not going to be the recipe for winning," Foligno said. "It's going to be a long year if we go down that road, and we'd better catch ourselves here Friday against a really good team."

--Field Level Media

Updated November 28, 2019

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