Taking a lead into the 3rd period of a game, especially on the road is usually a good sign of success. Before last night the Pittsburgh Penguins were 26-2-1 in such cases and had another chance to clamp onto a third period lead in San Jose against a game Sharks team.
And then the 3rd period started, the Pens were outshot 16-4, outscored 4-1 and are left to wonder where it all went wrong.
Recap over? Well, not quite, I guess we should pick apart the debacle a little further.
- Much has been made of the play of Sidney Crosby on the short-handed goal against by Patrick Marleau. First, Crosby's seam pass through the ice got intercepted and then he coasted on and didn't provide any back pressure or help for Evgeni Malkin (who, as we know is not a defenseman) and had the best view in the house for Marleau dancing Malkin and getting the goal. Consider though that Crosby was toward the end of a long shift, and in fact had played well more than half of that young 3rd period (2:49 of the 5:18). It's easy for keyboard coaches to say "backcheck a little harder, eh Sid?" but the realities of that situation aren't going to lend itself to a Herculean defensive effort.
- Crosby was a career worst -5 on the night, and that pops out, but it was just "one of those games", so to say. That can happen playing against a high powered line like Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns (who combined for 3 goals and 4 assists on the night).
- The Sharks put 47 shots on goal and fired 78 total attempts on Jeff Zatkoff, who admirably stood his ground, but ultimately couldn't stand up to the onslaught. It's understandable but I'd bet he'd want a couple of plays back- like when he couldn't freeze an easy point shot which directly led to the first goal against or Thornton's game winner which was a weak wrister from the outside. Still, give up that many pucks flying at your net and any goalie is bound to make a couple of mistakes. Not Zatkoff's fault the Pens lost.
- Injury scare after Chris Kunitz took a high hit in the second period and left the game for the remainder of the period. He'd return for the 3rd seemingly no worse for wear, thankfully.
- Unfortunately, same could not be said for Robert Bortuzzo, who only lasted seven shifts in the first period and left with the dreaded "upper body injury". We'll see what news comes out on it, but being on the west coast an injury likely means that the recently scratched Deryk Engelland will be returning to the lineup next game.
- The rest of the game overshadowed Olli Maatta, so let's go ahead and dwell on something positive. Two more goals for the rookie phenom defenseman and Bortuzzo's injury meant a high 24:38 time played as well. There weren't many bright spot takeaways from this game for Pittsburgh, but Maatta, at usual, was solid.
- New guy report: Marcel Goc had a nice play on the game's opening goal, earning an assist. He played pretty well in 11:03 in ice-time, with 2 hits and winning 54% of 13 faceoffs and taking/drawing a penalty at the same time. Not bad for a guy who didn't even step on the ice with his teammates until the game. Same for Lee Stempniak who got a little more ice-time (15:08), had a shot blocked, blocked a shot of his own, one giveaway and one takeaway. Not much to be excited about, but not much to expect for the very first day either.
The Pens long losing streak in San Jose (they haven't won since October 1997) will add another season to the list, and the team can't get out of town quickly enough. Unfortunately for them the road doesn't get any easier, as they face the mighty Ducks who have been virtually unbeatable at home this season.