A great game for hockey fans, but a tough one for Pens fans.
It seemed like a game in Winnipeg would be good for the Pens who, after a solid two-game road trip to start the season, came back to Pittsburgh to play a wishy washy opener. The MTS Centre is easily the best atmosphere to watch a hockey game, even if you're the opposition. We all know how the Pens typically play in loud arenas that sprinkle a Crosby serenade amidst their jeers.
Not the case.
Sidney Crosby shot out of a cannon at the start of the game, putting up two goals in the first period. One of the few pluses of this game is his steady return to form. Crosby, typically a slow-starter, is finding his feet and while he isn't back to his 2010 domination form, he's getting there.
From that point on, it was all Winnipeg. They maintained control of the game and (literally) gave the Pens no room in the offensive zone. They crashed the net and sacrificed everything to make sure no shots made it to Ondrej Pavelec.
This is where the frustration settled in. There was some good pressure starting the last ten minutes of the third period, but it wasn't enough. Props to the Jets for playing smart hockey to seal the deal.
And props to the Jets fans who create an atmosphere many Pens fans wish they called their own.
More random thoughts:
- Before the game, Hooks tweeted Pavelec's numbers against the Pens: 1-10-0, 4.81 GAA, .858 sv %. Looks like Pavelec's got his second-career win against the Pens now.
- Tomas Vokoun received his second start in a Pens jersey. In a bizarre sequence, he got away with grabbing Andrew Ladd's stick while making a save with 45 seconds left in the first. Seems like no one has seen that happen before, but I guess nothing will get in Vokoun's way.
- Speaking of Vokoun, he had a great game tonight. My only concern is his rebound control. The save of the game came when one of his rebounds found Evander Kane's stick. Half of the net was open but Vokoun was more than a yard outside of the crease to make the save. As long as he can make those saves, then I can't complain.
- Not Matt Cooke's best game. His errant breakout pass was stopped at the blue line and Kane wasted no time netting the Jets' first of the game. And that's why puck management...
- ...was the reason the Pens lost the game. Pens had unlimited issues getting the puck out of their zone and if they did, it wasn't on their sticks for long. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Pens aren't winning anything if they can't hold on to the puck.
- That Kane rebound chance I mentioned? How did that happen, you ask? Crosby's drop pass to Chris Kunitz in the offensive zone hit the boards, missing Kunitz, and the Jets were off to the races.
- Another positive was Tyler Kennedy (who would've thought we'd be saying that). Bylsma moved him to Evgeni Malkin's and James Neal's line and it worked well. That line had 15 of the Pens 34 shots. We might be on to something here.
- This game was Crosby's 50th two-goal game in his career and on top of that, he passed Ron Francis and stands alone as the fourth all-time in points in Penguins history. He's also only 22 points behind third-place Rick Kehoe.
- Ben Lovejoy made his season debut with the Pens but it might be best to forget what happened. He looked lost, especially on Ladd's goal. We might be seeing Mark Eaton pretty soon.
- Only three penalties call between both teams, the first one appearing halfway through the game. Pens were on that power play for 1:10 before Malkin took a hooking penalty. That was the only power play time the Pens saw in the game. That was a huge difference-maker, especially since the Pens had five power play goals in the first three games.
2-2-0 isn't where we want to be but there's still eleven twelfths of the season to be played. Regroup; it always gets better.
Ottawa on Sunday.