Kessel Keys Penguins Win in Metro Showdown
It's a common sight in alleged non-traditional hockey markets.
Opposing teams' fans often commandeer the arena, with the atmosphere replicating their own arena.
Nashville's gone so far as to attempt bans on Blackhawks'
Until recently, that'd only take a van pool heading to Columbus.
Frequent visitors to central Ohio have been Pittsburgh Penguins fans, in droves.
However, if they wanted a ticket last month, it would've cost them. That's when the Blue Jackets were on a roll, which included a 7-1 smashing of the reigning Cup holders that officially vaulted them into the Metropolitan Division lead.
Washington's since passed them both, but there was still enough on the table -- revenge, home-ice in playoffs, etc -- to make tonight's rematch in the 'Burgh a tense affair.
The shocker was someone other than a PR hack calling this a rivalry.
And it was a player, no less. Patric Hornqvist actually said it before the game:
|[It] does not feel good to lose 7-1 to one of our big rivals.|
So there it was. Sorta like a self-gauntlet.
True, Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky have created an interesting dynamic lately.
OK. It's a start.
The irony tonight, then, was the hero who emerged.
Phil Kessel's better at doing the weasel thing in close quarters, as John Scott would attest.
Dude was probably suspended for his own protection.
Anyway, Scott's retired, and the Pens needed Kessel for his wrists:
Columbus had one for the highlight reel, as well.
And what a game for Sergei Bobrovsky to forget it's slippery out there.
It did put Hornqvist back in the limelight, though:
Still, Columbus fought back with a pair in the third to send this tilt into overtime.
That's when Kessel showed once again that he's a better player when his stick's on the ice:
Damn. 800. Not counting the suspension, of course.
Pittsburgh clearly needed the points ...
... because it could well be this rivalry will be for home ice in the Cup's first round this spring.