The biggest part of the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 win Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers might have happened before the game. Forward Pascal Dupuis - who developed blood clots after a December 2013 knee injury and had a re-occurrence in November 2014 that forced him to miss the final 66 games of last season - was taken to the hospital for "precautionary reasons". Ever vague, the Penguins said it "may or may not" have been regarding his previous condition, but it seems pretty clear that scare was somehow rooted in the trip.
Fortunately (seemingly), the story has a somewhat happy ending as currently all tests are negative and though Dupuis won't play Saturday in Calgary, he'll get re-evaluated next week in Pittsburgh and we'll see what information comes from there.
Oh, and I guess there was a hockey game played. But with the Dupuis situation combined with the Connor McDavid clavicle injury from earlier this week, it took a lot of wind and emotion out of the sails of this game.
The first goal that counted was Oskar Klefbom 15 seconds into the second period. Looked like this might have ramped in off of Ben Lovejoy 's stick to me.
The Pens would tie the game with Daniel Sprong 's second goal of the season. Nice play by all three members of the 4th line- first Sergei Plotnikov does well along the boards in a puck battle, then Matt Cullen opportunistically sees a chance to pounce and does, finding Sprong. Sprong exhibits a quick release and goal scorer's touch on the finish.
Been a LONG time since the Pens had a 4th line that could pull off a goal like this.
Sprong goal, tie game in Edmonton pic.twitter.com/zor1Rn91PF— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 7, 2015
Phil Kessel would score what would be the game winner on the power play after an Oiler tried in vain to block it and just deflected it in.
A few thoughts
- Edmonton hit 4 posts on Jeff Zatkoff. But hey, they pay him to cover the net and not one bit more, so good on him.
- It was also pretty classy of Zatkoff in his post-game interview when asked about his night to seamlessly transition into praising the job Marc-Andre Fleury has done this year. Easy to see that Zatkoff is a great teammate and has a stellar attitude and personality. That's all well and good, but what really matters is he's gotten very limited minutes for game-time, and been sharp in both games. Good on him.
- After I railed against the "off-side goal review call that has nothing to do with the eventual goal" review earlier this season, it comes back to bite the Pens in the first. Yes, there's no doubt Patric Hornqvist was off-side and the linesman viewed it. But that's the human element of the game, and had no influence on the goal scored many seconds later. The correct call was eventually made, but one that seems unnecessary.
- Pens power play is looking a little better these days. Hornqvist's goal would have been on the PP. Kessel's was. The Pens are showing more movement (especially Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both of whom can get stationary at times). They're also feeding Kessel for shots more. This is very good.
- Dupuis' absence opened up a LW spot on the first line, and one that Eric Fehr jumped in. The right-hander is a natural right winger, but adjusted to center in recent years. Will LW be his next ask, or will the Pens look somewhere else?
Ian Cole's rough go continues with a delay of game penalty late in the 3rd period. Hasn't been all that great in a very difficult 1st pair role, but the Pens don't have any other options. Tonight was also only Cole's 200th NHL game, with the old coach's cliche that it takes 300 NHL games for a defenseman to really settle in and be comfortable at his craft. Cole doesn't look all that comfortable right now in a big role.
- Pens PK does the deed again, another game with no goals against. For a unit with a lot of turnover (and Dupuis out hurts too) they've steadily kept clicking along.
- Nail Yakupov looks about 100 times better than he did in previous seasons. Looks like the former #1 pick has figured a lot out as to how to succeed in the NHL.
- Zatkoff saved the day on a bad angle shot by Benoit Pouliot very late in the game that almost skittered through and over the line, but was stopped. Nice way for him to seal the win with one last difficult stop.
The Pens move to 6 straight wins, and 9 out of their last 10. It's a bit overshadowed with the Dupuis news, but at least he's out of the hospital and all tests went well, for now. Pittsburgh looks to complete a sweep of the Canadian prairies with a game tomorrow night in Calgary.