8:44 into the game the Canucks struck first with Brad Richardson scoring after an Olli Maatta got out-raced to a puck by Jannik Hansen and Christian Ehrhoff and Andrew Ebbett couldn't cover Richardson in the slot. Shortly thereafter the Pens had their best chance of the game, while on the power play. The puck came to a wide open Sidney Crosby who had a wide open cage to shoot at. He usually buries such chances 87 times out of 87. This time, incredibly his rushed shot flew wide and harmlessly deflected off iron before floating away.
In the second period the Canucks would strike again with Richardson stealing the puck from Simon Despres behind the net and finding Shawn Matthias free and clear in front for a bang-bang play, leaving Thomas Greiss helpless. Greiss would victimize himself a few moments later, on another Pens power play trying to play the puck behind his net. Greiss hesitated and Jannik Hansen didn't, flying in and slashing the stick out of Greiss's hands and quickly chopping the puck out to Richardson for a simple tap into the abandoned net.
From there, it was all over but the crying. A few more thoughts on the game:
- Patric Hornqvist left and didn't return after absorbing a big open ice hit from Ryan Stanton. Crosby flipped the puck up hap-hazardly, Hornqvist had his head down digging to try and leg his way up to recover it and boom, the shot was delivered. Tough one to take, hopefully the damage isn't too bad, the Penguins were down to 1 legitimate top six winger and it was Hornqvist. Losing him too for any length of time would be pretty devastating.
- Just a really off night for Crosby. That suicide pass to Hornqvist may not be 100% on him, but it's not great. In one sequence Steve Downie tried to pass Sid the puck, it was well off-target and Crosby just aimlessly kept drifted away from it. Crosby only won 7 of 20 faceoffs (35%) and his only shot on goal was a pretty weak backhander he tried to sneak in 5-hole on Eddie Lack. Didn't work. Nothing did for Crosby tonight, in a rare dud of a game.
- And, officially in the NHL scoresheet they didn't even count it as a shot. Looked more like a pass anyways but jeez, give the guy a little credit, eh? Like I said above, just not his night, or anyone's wearing a black jersey really.
- Then again, after the PH72 injury Crosby's wingers in the 3rd period were Downie and Nick Spaling. Evgeni Malkin is playing with Blake Comeau and Jayson Megna. There's "less than ideal" and then there's Downie/Spaling and Comeau/Megna as your top 6 wingers. Mercy.
- Sure sign the night went bad, the Penguins leader in shots on goal was Craig Adams with 4. Yuuup. Nice to see Ironman Adams pumping a lot of puck a lot of puck at the cage, but I don't seem to remember any of them being a realistic scoring chance.
- On one shift in the second period the Sedin twins put on a clinic of puck possession and really cranked up the heat with Andrew Ebbett and Brian Dumoulin chasing the puck around hopelessly for long stretches. Once a season we get a demonstration that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would make a bad NHL team, tonight looked like that.
- Dumoulin in his first NHL game of the year wasn't too bad overall though. He didn't play any special teams so he ended up with a defenseman low 15:08 played with no shot attempts of his own and a blocked shot. He wasn't on the ice for goal against though, so that's good.
- One big difference seemed to be the speed. And yeah, the Pens injuries probably weigh into that, but Vancouver looked like they had a different gear from top to bottom out there. They're a good, strong, fast, deep team and as we saw pretty clearly, a team doesn't have a chance if they can't match it.
- Downie's vaunted 5 game streak without a penalty ended with him going to the box twice.
- Only 21 shots for Lack to turn away, including a second period that took 12 minutes to even get a shot on net. Not a very challenging night for him to earn the shutout, but it will count just the same.