Unfortunately, hockey games are still 60 minutes.
Detroit scored twice in those last three minutes to erase a 3-1 Penguins lead, and then again with less than a minute left in OT to leave the Penguins losers for the second time in as many nights.
The Pens came out the gates strong- Pascal Dupuis and Olli Maatta scored first period goals to open the game. Maatta's goal, where he took the puck in the corner, eluded Pavel Datsyuk and moved to the backhand was exceptionally sweet. Detroit wouldn't stay down, where later in the first period Niklas Krownall made an equally sweet juke on Patric Hornqvist and shot the puck by a screened Thomas Greiss to plant a theme that would repeat- the Detroit comeback.
Chris Kunitz gave the Pens a 3-1 lead in the second, and they would carry that lead all the way to the closing moments of the game when coach Mike Babcock pulled his goalie and saw some magic be worked by Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to tie the game in regulation. Then Justin Abdelkader (who earlier in the game took a Zetterberg shot to the chops) scored in OT when the puck went off Paul Martin 's stick, happened to click off who else but Zetterberg's stick and straight to a wide open Abdelkader in the slot. Game over.
A few more thoughts on the game:
- Interestingly, assistant coach Rick Tocchet pulled the first PP unit after about 45 seconds at a whistle in the 3rd period. The players body language didn't look too happy about that, but outside of their first chance early in the game, they didn't really get much going. Still, with an offensive zone draw, what are the odds the varsity team gets at least a scoring chance (if not a goal)? Didn't seem that big since the score was 3-1, but looking back on it now, prime opportunity to second guess.
- Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist combined for nine shots on goal, but didn't score. Crosby had a great chance on Jimmy Howard when he got out of the box, got the puck with speed and put a good shot on, but Howard answered.It was 3-1 then, so it didn't loom so large, but again looking back on that moment now, it was huge for Howard to deny Crosby.
- In the third and final installment of Hindsight Theatre, Kris Letang had a chance to score on the empty net (even though he did have a Red Wing trying to block the shot) and failed. He also could have pulled the trigger on a shot in OT, but decided to make the dreaded extra pass. Stuff happens, and that's the game, but man. So close to ending it.
- Along the lines of the PP distribution of time from note one, the first team PP (14, 58, 71, 72, 87) played between 2:30 - 3:45 tonight- mostly about 3:10 or so. The second PP unit (3, 9, 10, 16, 23) had 2:08 - 2:56. There was some instances where the 2nd unit started after the Crosby line took their shift and drew a call, but when Steve Downie (2:23) plays almost as much as Hornqvist (2:37), things are out of whack. And it's amplified by neither unit scoring a goal.
- The Simon Despres "games without a minor penalty" tracker resets from 4 to 0. Congrats, Simon! Despres also was credited with 6 of the Pens 19 hits for the night.
- Party for Zach Sill, who registered his first shot on goal of the year tonight in the 6th game of the season. Needless to say, it did not go in. I don't even remember it, the game tracker says it was in the 3rd period and was 61 feet away, which makes it just inside the blueline by about 3 feet.
- Evgeni Malkin was smartly moved back to center for this game, with Dupuis and Blake Comeau as wingers. Comeau had a great game with 2 assists, +1, 2 shots on goal, 3 hits, 2 takeaways. He's probably not an every game 2nd line winger, but was serviceable at it tonight.
- The other benefit was Brandon Sutter moving back into his more traditional checking line role with Steve Downie and Nick Spaling in what could be a pretty decent checking line.
- Not sure we learned too much about Griess. The Pens were outshot 22-10 from the 2nd period on and died on the table late in the game. Greiss does seem to like his poke check, I wonder once all these Eastern teams get the new video on him if they will preach quicker shots on him. For tonight, goal one he was screened, goal two Danny Dekeyser hit a streaking Zetterberg who flew by the team and unleashed a great shot, goal three saw Zetterberg and then Datsyuk make sublime passes (and his defense standing around) and goal 4 was a freak thing where the puck lands on the stick of a wide open player in the slot. Greiss made a few nice saves early, but couldn't plug the dam when it all went downhill.
Now it's on to a third game in 4 nights on Saturday in Nashville. Where, what do you know, old friend James Neal broke out of an early season slump and scored a hat-trick tonight for the Predators. I wonder if this nugget will be mentioned by anyone a time or two before game-time.