Early in, Kris Letang holds the blueline and passes down to Evgeni Malkin. Malkin makes an unreal play with vision and touch to lay the puck right into space for Bryan Rust to catch up to. Rust snaps a shot past Craig Anderson 5-hole to put the Penguins on the board.
71 → 17 → pic.twitter.com/ISowilLx2E— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 6, 2016
The Senators strike back soon, with Kyle Turris slipping past the Penguins defense and Brian Dumoulin whiffing on the centering pass. Breakaway chance and Turris beats Marc-Andre Fleury 5-hole himself. The Pens challenged the goal hoping to catch Turris offside but review couldn't overturn the close play and the goal stands.
On the very next shift though, the Sidney Crosby goal scoring machine kicked into gear with his 17th goal of the season (in his 20th game) on a 2-on-1. Nice pass by Conor Sheary to spring Sid.
Ottawa doesn't stay down long, their best player makes a good play when Erik Karlsson takes a cross-ice pass from Mark Stone and puts a hard shot right under the leg pad Fleury. MAF immediately tipped his head back, showing frustration to know he should have had that one.
Pittsburgh put 21 shots on net in the first period, had a couple of power plays in there but bombarded the net. Entertaining, wide-open hockey, but unfortunately for all that effort the period ends with a 2-2 tie.
Ottawa gets their first power play and first power play goal, Stone makes a really nice play waiting for a falling puck to get under the crossbar and he knocks it into the net to make it 3-2 Sens and their first lead of the game.
Crosby gets a great scoring chance but can't put in a wraparound chance. Ottawa gets their second PP chance and goal, a nice play by Karlsson and Fleury looks like he loses vision of where the puck is going, which was problematic since it was going to Mike Hoffman and the talented player quickly one-times the puck into the net to make it 4-2.
Fleury is pulled after allowing 4 goals on 16 shots and Matt Murray enters the game.
The Pens take a penalty soon after and the situation looks dire, but Matt Cullen gets a short-handed breakaway and scores with a nice move on the backhand on one of his former teams to close the gap to 4-3. Still some great wheels on Cullen at age 40.
Matt Cullen with a great move on a shorty breakaway to score! pic.twitter.com/pqjbvVulgj— NHL 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 6, 2016
Pittsburgh ties the game at 4, Phil Kessel scores an NHL17 type goal with a long wrist-shot high to the blocker side from deep out. Heck of a shot but one you don't see scored in the real NHL very often.
Vintage Phil Kessel. pic.twitter.com/MQdHwlO6Bf— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 6, 2016
Just 24 seconds later, the Pens strike again to take a 5-4 lead with Justin Schultz stepping up in a big way defensively, then regaining the puck in the o-zone and shooting confidently for his 3rd goal of the season, all coming in the last 4 games.
Evgeni Malkin blows the doors off Mark Borowiecki and somehow sneaks a backhand shot by Anderson to make it 6-4. Wow, wow, wow. As Pens twitter says below, it does remind one of the Mario statue goal out in front of the arena.
We're seeing shades of Mario. pic.twitter.com/rKEsemg0bj— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 6, 2016
Ottawa gets up to 3/4 on the night on the power play with a wild scramble in front of Murray that Dion Phaeuf gets the last stick on to make it 6-5 Pens with still some time left for more..
And the more comes shortly, as it has been all game. Bryan Rust earns a breakaway with an interception and his speed but gets slashed and awarded a penalty shot. Beauty of a backhand move for his 2nd goal of the night and to make a score a ridiculous 7-5.
GIF: Rust's penalty shot goal puts the Pens up 7-5! pic.twitter.com/bjMF5CFBME— Benstonium (@Benstonium) December 6, 2016
Rust opened the scoring just 1:45 into the game, and he'll close the scoring 2:28 left with an empty net goal to finish out the 8-5 win.
- Great play by Malkin on the opening goal. How he knew right where Rust would be was a thing of beauty. In the bigger picture, that goal was the culmination of a minute long shift for Malkin who was buzzing all around the offensive zone.
- The Pens traded Mike Condon to Ottawa last month, and he got a shutout in Ottawa's last game...But not the start tonight as the Sens elected to play their normal starter in Anderson.
- A bit of a curious challenge just 8 minutes into the game, costing the Pens their timeout and a chance for challenges later.
- Ironic trivia note: Ryan Dzingel (the player who made the nice pass to Turris on the breakaway for Ottawa's first goal) is a 7th round pick (204th overall) from 2011 that Ottawa received in the 2011 trade that sent Alex Kovalev to the Pens. Dzingel is off to a great start this season with 14 points in 26 games, a huge bucking of the odds. But, then again Pittsburgh doesn't have to feel too bad, they had pick 210 that year and found a diamond in the rough that late in the draft in Scott Wilson .
- 3 straight healthy scratches for Jake Guentzel after tonight. Now that Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist are healthy (and there's production lately from Rust and Sheary) it sure does seem like there's no room for Guentzel right now. Wouldn't be too surprising to see him sent back to the AHL for a place to be able to play for now.
- Fleury got the early hook, Fleury's play on the 2nd goal was one he should have stopped and though Ottawa did generate some scoring chances, he couldn't keep the puck out of the net, allowing 4 goals on 16 shots in less than half a game. One didn't get a sense MAF would stop the next high danger scoring chance, and Murray did stop 2 breakaways in the 2nd after coming in cold, so that move appeared to have immediately paid off.
- One of the most engaged games for Malkin this season who had the ridiculous goal, plus 2 assists, team high 6 shots on goal and a takeaway. Dion Phaneuf (who Malkin often battles dating back to Dion's Toronto days) got in Geno's face early, but that backfired as Malkin stayed focused, didn't take any penalties and was very good with the puck all night long.
- Few are less complimentary of Karlsson's defensive efforts at times than I am, so only fair to give the devil his due and point out a great play he made to use his stick to stop Crosby from scoring on an empty net in the 2nd period. And he was great, as always, in the offensive zone with a 4 point night (1g+3a).
- Crosby's first period goal was his 965th career NHL point, tying him with all-time great Maurice "The Rocket" Richard for 90th place all-time. History making stuff. Fitting that Sid ties The Rocket on a play the Habs great would have recognized, flying down the ice and ripping a goal on the rush.
- Brian Dumoulin hit Curtis Lazar along the boards in the 2nd period, and Lazar wouldn't return. The hit look like it was from the side/back-ish so I guess we'll see if there's any supplemental discipline but given that the NHL barely suspends for egregious hits, this one probably was under their threshold for further action.
- Two more points apiece for the super-hot pair of Ian Cole (2 assists tonight) and Schultz (1g+1a). Who knows how long they will stay this productive (especially Cole, since at least Schultz should be able to generate shots and goals with his skill) but the Pens will definitely take it while it lasts.
- Aside from the Cullen goal, the penalty kill was dreadful giving up 3 goals in 5 chances. They couldn't buy a clear and seem to collapse too much, not covering particularly anyone and not actually dispossessing the puck either.
- Rust's first NHL hat-trick and he scored 3 different ways (ES, penalty shot, empty net). Still a PPG and SHG away from the Mario 5 goals, 5 ways, but not a bad night at all for Rust to double his goals on the season from 3 to 6.
- 46 SOG for the Pens tonight, dominant effort. Just a wide-open, old school throwback game.
Really wild game, but they're always more fun coming out with the win. The Penguins get a 2 day break, and they better make that rest count, because they're starting a 6-game in 10 day stretch, starting Thursday night in Sunrise, FL.