Penguins open early lead but lose on road to Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a game which featured little offense, the Penguins’ got their lone goal from an unlikely source.
Reserve defenseman Juuso Riikola accounted for the Penguins’ lone goal in a 3-1 preseason loss to the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.
Taking a pass at the left point, Riikola chopped a one-timer at the cage. As forward Thomas Di Pauli provided a screen, the puck sailed past goaltender Joonas Korpisalo’s glove for the score only 2 minutes, 3 seconds into regulation. Assists went to forward Andrew Agozzino and defenseman John Marino.
“A goal feels good always,” said Riikola, who experienced that feeling only two times as a rookie in the NHL last season.
“He’s real good on the offensive blue line,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s got a great shot. And he can use his mobility there as well.”
The Penguins failed to display much of a threat for the remainder of the contest despite outshooting the Blue Jackets, 25-22.
A power-play goal made it a 1-1 contest at 15:24 of the first. Digging a puck off the left-wing wall, Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois snapped a pass to forward Cam Atkinson who was wide open in the right circle. With minimal resistance, Atkinson had ample time to snipe the puck past goaltender Casey DeSmith’s glove.
After a scoreless second period, Columbus took the lead at 2:12 of the third. Collecting a loose puck on the left half wall, Blue Jackets forward Eric Robinson whacked it wide on the near side. The puck deflected off Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson’s left knee then caromed off DeSmith’s right shoulder and into the cage.
“I could have tracked that one a little bit better,” DeSmith said. “Off Gudbranson, he was behind the goal line I think. Then off my back and in. That was probably one of the weirder ones. You could probably try that a couple hundred thousand times and it wouldn’t happen again.”
An empty-net goal by Columbus forward Josh Anderson at with 36 seconds remaining in regulation capped off the scoring.
DeSmith finished with 20 saves.
The Penguins are 1-1-1 in the preseason and play the Detroit Red Wings at 5 p.m. Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect player scoring Columbus’ empty-net goal.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .