Recap: Pens outshot, but find a way to get two points in Anaheim

Harry How

The Pittsburgh Penguins get outshot, but find a way to hang on in Anaheim and eventually take a 3-2 shootout win.

The Pittsburgh Penguins struggled to get shots on net against the Anaheim Ducks last night, but found a way to hang on until the shootout, where they'd ultimately prevail.

It wasn't a pretty picture on the advanced stats, to be sure. Halfway through the game shots were 19-3, and ended up with a 23-7 edge for Anaheim after two periods.

However, shots can be a little misleading- Pittsburgh actually had more scoring chances in the 2nd period than the Ducks did, by a 5-4 margin. The issue was most of Pittsburgh's chances (like Evgeni Malkin hitting a post, or Matt Niskanen firing just wide) didn't actually end up as recorded shots on goal.

What did matter was pucks that actually ended up in the net, and Corey Perry started it by collecting a rebound from a Ryan Getzlaf shot from right at the crease and tapped home a goal. It would be the first of two goals that Perry scored from that spot on Marc-Andre Fleury 's doorstep, sandwiched in between a Deryk Engelland tally.

The Pens would tie the game up on the power play when Evgeni Malkin found space and a James Neal pass and blew the puck by Jonas Hiller. Pittsburgh out-shot Anaheim 10-8 in the 3rd and OT, and took some momentum into the shootout, where Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Brandon Sutter scored goals to help the Pens win the extra point in the standings.

A few more thoughts before we wrap up the last west coast road trip of the season:

  • Former Penguin and current Duck Ben Lovejoy was interviewed for TV after the second intermission and noted the Ducks shot advantage and Pens sluggish play was likely due to the toll that playing a good team like San Jose would take out of the Pens. And that can't be argued, it's been a tough and extended week-plus long road trip for Pittsburgh.
  • A day after getting roasted for his defensive focus, Sidney Crosby played the most even strength and overall minutes of any forward in the game and generally looked engaged all over the ice. He was mostly quiet offensively, but did have a breakaway in OT that Hiller was able to stop. Crosby, like the rest of the team, will do well to get back to the East Coast and get a couple days off.
  • New guy Marcel Goc continuing to be strong as advertised- winning 10 of 13 faceoffs on the night, best on either side.
  • The Penguins defense combined for 18 hits and 10 blocked shots on the night. They had to hang on for dear life, especially against the offensive skill of the Getzlaf/Perry line, but mostly did a good job just doing that.
  • Lee Stempniak got his first extended chance to play on the Pens top line and systematically looked like a fit. With a better frame and skill-set to fit Kunitz/Crosby with having the strength and size to cycle the puck down low than the healthy scratched Brian Gibbons, Stempniak helped the Pens top line look like the Pens top line for the first time in a long time.
  • Chris Kunitz attempted seven shots on the night, 5 of them Ducks players blocked, the other two were off target. Sort of summed up the night for the Pens in the offensive zone. Anaheim was excellent in stacking the blue-line with bodies to slow the Pens entries and then had layers of defense ready and able to deny any sort of shots on goal.

And like that, the Penguins get two points out of California, which this year is no small feat. Thankfully, it's time to return home and set our sights on "hate week" of two games with Washington followed by two games with Philly. But, be sure to check out our friends at Anaheim Calling to get their perspective on how the game went.

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