Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel are stone-cold killers. The goal that they teamed up to score late in the second period of last night's Game 3 in Tampa shows how quickly a game, or even a series, can be turned upside down. With about 18 seconds left on the clock, Tampa Bay turns the puck over. Eight seconds later, before they can even realize what went wrong, Carl Hagelin puts the puck in the back of the net. Speed. Speed. Speed.
Let's take a look at what happened here and what the Penguins did to take the lead.
Jonathan Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning were entering the offensive zone with time running out in the second period. A fatal mistake followed. The puck should have been put on net, or played to the corner. Instead, Drouin opted to circle back to the half-wall and back around.
Seriously, why would you not shoot the puck here? What an awful decision. This decision might be worth sending Drouin back to the AHL.
Phil Kessel executed a flawless backcheck, cutting down Drouin's passing lane, and maybe even baiting him to try and get it through.
Drouin tried anyway, and failed. Kessel immediately was heads-up, moving forward, with the puck headed into Tampa's zone. The two keys here that compounded the failure for Tampa Bay were that Drouin was just kinda puck-watching. Inexcusable. The other thing: Phil Kessel caught Victor Hedman flat footed for JUST a split-second. It was long enough to get a step on him.
After Kessel got outside positioning, Hagelin joined the rush, beating Braydon Coburn inside, and eventually getting outside for a rebound.
In the blink of an eye, Tampa Bay goes from having both of their defenders ahead of the play, to be being beat.
When you look at where Hedman and Coburn were, in respect to the positioning of Kessel and Hagelin, they appear to be set up to break things up. The problem for them is that Kessel and Hagelin were too fast for them.
After Kessel streaked down the wing, he knew Victor Hedman would try and get good stick positioning, and he almost did.
Kessel was able to elevate the puck over Hedman's trailing stick, and put a perfect pass off of the pads for a Hagelin rebound.
Carl Hagelin did a great job here to sneak outside around Coburn, while he was watching Kessel's shot/pass. He found a way to work the angles getting both outside position and then inside position to knock home the rebound.
In the blink of an eye, the Penguins went from entering the second intermission being potentially frustrated by being unable to get one past Andrei Vasilevskiy, to having a lead, and that changed everything. The Penguins came back out to play the 3rd period with a swagger, and they finished the game off in a fashion that we know they are capable of doing.
The play can be seen below in its entirety here:
Ultimately, an inexcusable play by Jonathan Drouin set this up for the Penguins, but it did require an excellent display of speed and skill from Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin. If only Drouin had exercised some of that elite work ethic that we have heard so much about, maybe things would have turned out better for him.