The Penguins are expected to start Brent Johnson in goal tonight at Columbus.
By Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
While no one is suggesting that he is the answer on the power play while center Evgeni Malkin sits out to let his shoulder heal, enforcer Eric Godard got a sniff there late in the Penguins' 6-1 win Wednesday against Montreal.
"It's always fun to get a chance to do that," the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Godard said yesterday of being sent out on the power play. "It seems when we get up [in a game] quite a bit, they'll give me a shot to try to get a goal."
In this case, Godard got his large frame in front of the net. He was on the power play for a healthy 1:04 and got off a shot that Canadiens goaltender Cary Price stopped.
"I like it out there. It's fun," Godard said.
Sidney Crosby, a fixture at one of the forward spots on the top power-play unit, smiled when asked about Godard's unusual assignment.
"He looked good in there, controlled the puck in there, got a great chance," Crosby said. "Hopefully, we'll see him there a little more often."
If nothing else, that would mean the Penguins are blowing out more opponents.
Increasing the pressure
Columbus, which plays host to the Penguins tonight, is chugging along at 6-5, but the Blue Jackets are 1-4 since they started the season 5-1.
Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock is putting pressure on several of his top offensive players to pick things up.
"You have to work to score in the league. Bottom line, you have to work," Hitchcock told reporters Wednesday after a 4-1 loss to Phoenix. "Lines that score are based on second and third efforts. The goalies are good and the defensemen are good. You need second and third efforts to score and we are not getting it."
Hitchcock called second-year winger Jake Voracek "our best player so far this season," something of a slap to established forwards Rick Nash, Antoine Vermette, Kristian Huselius and Plum native R.J. Umberger.
Voracek is fourth on the team with eight points.
The other four, however, have produced through the 1-4 slide. In that stretch, Nash has three goals, five points and a plus-minus rating of minus-5; Vermette has two goals, six points and is plus-3; Huselius has three goals, four points and is even, and Umberger has three assists and is minus-5.
Hitchcock said they are not creating scoring chances as consistently as Voracek is.
"This whole team is in a slump," Huselius told the Columbus Dispatch.
A day after his first career four-point night and his first goal of the season, Penguins winger Chris Kunitz was given a "maintenance" day off from practice. ... Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said backup goaltender Brent Johnson will make his third start tonight. ... The Penguins will wear their alternate blue uniforms tonight, the first time they will have worn the alternate jerseys away from Mellon Arena since the jerseys were first worn in the 2008 Winter Classic at Buffalo.