Earlier today before the Pittsburgh Penguins first game, Dan Bylsma half-jokingly said, "don't expect a masterpiece".
Well, I take it back, maybe he wasn't joking at all. The Pens dropped a 6-5 shootout decision to the Montreal Canadiens that's probably better forgotten sooner than later.
The Penguins and Canadiens traded goals like they were going out of style. First it was 1-0 MTL, then Pittsburgh struck twice in the first period with goals by James Neal and Deryk Engelland. In the second period Les Habs tied it up and then Olli Maatta and Max Pacioretty traded power play goals in quick order to knot the score at three after 40 minutes.
Brandon Sutter scored on a short-handed breakaway to give the Pens another lead, but it'd be short-lived when the Pens surrendered another goal less than a minute after taking that lead. Sidney Crosby would give Pittsburgh yet another lead, but then for a final time Montreal would tie it on a very questionable five minute power play.
Overtime was dominated by the Canadiens to the tune of 5-0 in shots, and then in the shootout they'd outscore the Pens 1-0 to earn the extra point.
A few more thoughts before we move on from this mess:
- Many were wondering how Evgeni Malkin would respond, one game back after his huge disappointment and frustration that was the Sochi Olympics. He was very good, especially early in the game, showing a lot of jump in his skating. He'd finish the night with two assists, a +1, a shot on goal (with 4 more attempts), a giveaway, a takeaway and 57% faceoff wins on his 14 draws. There also was a frustration penalty behind the play when Geno got enticed into slashing PK Subban 's legs, but all in all a very solid game for Malkin.
- As mentioned above, the game turned late in the 3rd period when the refs hit Tanner Glass with a 5 minute major penalty for elbowing and a 10-minute misconduct to kick him out of the game. Upon further review (which the refs don't have access to) it appeared that Glass's arm didn't even hit Alexei Emelin, it was a stick that came up and caused him to snap his head back. But, alas, the major penalty was done and it really damned the Pens cause. It should have been a penalty, but not of the major variety.
- Sidney Crosby and Brian Gibbons each drew three penalties against Montreal players.
- Crosby was also very good in his Sochi+1 game. His six shots on goal led the Pens, he had a 3rd period goal and added an assist too.
- Defensively, it was obvious it had been almost three weeks since a game. Very sloppy all over the place, but of the five goals they gave up, two were on the power play, and another happened two seconds after Malkin got out of the box. I wondered what would happened when Fleury's league leading PK save % would regress a little, and this was a night where it did.
- Chuck Kobasew, a player with limited skills and who's brought almost nothing to the table, played 1:01 tonight on the power play. May it be the last 1:01 he sees in a Penguins jersey on the PP. Surely there must be a better option somewhere along the line, even with Paul Martin and Kris Letang out.
- Daniel Briere wins the efficiency award; 2 goals, 1 assist and 4 shots on goal all in just 9:06 of ice-time.
And so that will do it. The Penguins get 1 point in the standings, but more importantly they knock the rust off and get some badly needed game action to get the machine back into gear as they head to Chicago for the Stadium Series prime time game on Saturday.