Penguins' wild shootout win vs. Blue Jackets 'best' of season
The storyline was familiar.
A Pittsburgh team had a potentially game-winning score wiped out by video replay in a December matchup against a hated rival.
The finish was different.
The Penguins shook off a waved-off Sidney Crosby overtime goal to finish off an improbable 5-4 comeback victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shootout Wednesday night.
Evgeni Malkin and Crosby converted their chances in the tiebreaking round, Matt Murray stopped both attempts he faced and the Penguins recorded their second shootout win over Columbus in a week.
"This is for sure the best win we've had the whole season," winger Patric Hornqvist said. "This is exactly what we need at this point. We haven't played our best. We all know it. This is something to build on and we will build on this."
The controversial call came 23 seconds into overtime.
Brian Dumoulin took a pass from Jake Guentzel as he drove to the net but couldn't steer a puck past Sergei Bobrovsky. After a brief review, referees ruled Dumoulin interfered with the goalie before Crosby swooped in and buried the rebound.
Crosby was surprised the goal was nullified.
"I thought it was going to stand. It didn't. Nothing you can do about it now," he said. "I'm glad we got the two points."
To Columbus coach John Tortorella, the call was obvious.
"Once you saw the replay, I don't know what the hell they were arguing about after," he said. "It's a goalie interference."
Dumoulin's argument was he did everything he could to avoid contact.
"He was the one kind of tied up with me," Dumoulin said. "I was trying to get out of there."
Regardless, the overturned goal wasn't the only adversity the Penguins faced in overtime. About a minute later, Jake Guentzel was whistled for high-sticking, giving Columbus a four-on-three advantage for two minutes.
The Penguins penalty kill allowed only one shot.
"There's a lot of time and space out there," Crosby said. "You've got to get in lanes and block shots. That's not easy to do, especially against that group. They did a great job for us."
The Penguins, who had lost five of their previous seven games coming in, did not look rejuvenated early coming off a three-day Christmas break.
They fell behind 2-0 on goals by Sonny Milano and Boone Jenner, playing a generally uninspired first 20 minutes.
The comeback began in the second. The Penguins had a 16-7 advantage in shots and 32-12 edge in shot attempts and scored their first goal on a Conor Sheary wrister from the right wing on a three-on-two break.
Still, the Penguins found themselves behind by two twice in the third period thanks to the skill of dynamic winger Artemi Panarin, who scored a pair of potentially back-breaking goals, one late in the second and one with about 10 minutes left in regulation.
The Penguins scored twice on the power play to pull within one. Phil Kessel connected off the rush from the left wing to make it 3-2, and Malkin shoved in the rebound of a Kessel shot to make it 4-3.
The tying goal came with less than two minutes to go. Hornqvist tried a wraparound at the left post, and the puck rolled off his stick right to Guentzel at the opposite post for a clutch goal.
"It was a real character win," Sullivan said. "I thought it was the most resilient that this group has been all year long. Just kind of a never-say-die attitude."
Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel left in the second period and winger Bryan Rust in the third period because of injury. Sullivan said he did not have an update on their conditions after the game.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.