After a fairly boring first 25 minutes (welcome to your 2015 NHL!) the Pittsburgh Penguins struck in bunches with 2 goals 0:17 apart to jump out to a 2-0 lead over St. Louis. First Blake Comeau shot home a great pass over from Daniel Winnik to open the scoring. Then Nick Spaling stepped up and intercepted a pass and sent the puck down to an open Steve Downie who put it behind Jake Allen to make it 2-0 just like that.
However, it would be a pair of ex-Penguins who got the Blues tied. About six minutes after the Pens flurry, Robert Bortuzzo got to a loose puck after a scramble and was able to fire one by Marc-Andre Fleury. Then a few minutes later, Marcel Goc scored to tie the game after a couple of nice scoring chances for the Blues 4th line.
That would be it for the scoring until overtime when Michalek found Alex Steen for his 24th goal of the season that would go as the game winner.
A few more thoughts to wrap the game up:
- The Pens PP continued to struggle, going 0 for 3 on a night that they got the first 3 power play chances. On each of the opening offensive zone faceoffs, Sidney Crosby lost cleanly the draw, resulting in St. Louis clearing the puck and a lot of time coming off the man-advantage. We've harped on this before and hate to pile on the senseless Sid bashing, but this has been a real issue all year. Can't score on the PP when you're not in the zone.
- Hitting the net was a problem- David Perron had a couple of glorious chances but couldn't hit the target.
- Christian Ehrhoff left the game early after a big collision that sent him flying into the boards shoulder first, with some head whipping as well. Ehrhoff almost stumbled over when he was walking back to the locker-room, looking like another type of head injury for him. Shame that he's been hurt so much lately, but being as he's gotten re-injured before, the question of why he played in this game again has to be asked.
- Speaking of questions: after Downie scored to make the game 2-0, Craig Adams got in a staged looking fight right off the draw with Steve Ott. Why? What was the purpose? The Pens had a ton of momentum and had no reason to really fight. Plus, the Pens had only dressed 11 forwards on the night, risking injury and taking a 5 minute penalty wasn't Harvard-level smart.
- With only those 11 skaters, Crosby's ice-time was ratcheted up to 23:45. Two of his 3 highest TOI's this season have come in the last 2 games. Hopefully Evgeni Malkin can return soon and the Pens can get back to managing Sid's minutes a little better.
- Alex Pietrangelo was shadowing Crosby all night effectively too. His name seems lost in the shuffle a little bit when it comes to the premier all-around defensemen in the league, but he certainly belongs right in that conversation.
- Player I wish was in the East so I could see more of him: Vladimir Tarasenko.
- Coach I'm happy is in the West so that I don't have to see a lot of: Ken Hitchcock.
- Winnik seems to get a little better in each game as a Penguin. As we've said before in this space, he definitely is everything advertised as a solid forward who does a ton of little things to help a team win. And some big things too, like when he jumped out of the box, zoomed around Zbynek Michalek and put a pass right on for Comeau to score.
- Chris Kunitz was generously given 8 hits on the game, but was having a lot of problems getting around on the ice. At one point when the puck came to him in the offensive zone he simply fell over, for no reason at all. As bad as his legs look, his hands looked even slower. Definitely didn't look that strong, but there's always next game to turn the page to, right?
Important game, as this was Pittsburgh's "game in hand" on the inactive Capitals tonight, and now push to 3 points ahead of them in the standings. From now, the Pens at least have a fairly easy schedule on paper with their next 6 opponents on the outside looking in for playoff positions.