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Penguins vs. Senators Recap: Just the tip! Pens deflect way to 3-1 win

The Pens take care of business on the road with a 3-1 win thanks to nice work from Matt Murray and 2 deflection goals.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports


Penguins are basically the same as last game, which is good in the sense that it must have been tempting to put Conor Sheary and Patric Hornqvist (goal scorers last game) up with Sidney Crosby, they will stick with Riley Sheahan to start. Carl Hagelin still with Malkin-Kessel because hey someone has to not score there.

1st period

Not too much going on. Pittsburgh gets two power plays, one they don’t score on, and one they end when Evgeni Malkin takes an offensive zone penalty. Welp.

No worries though, Matt Murray is at it again

Shots end up 10-8 for the Senators. Not terrible for the Pens, though they did get hemmed in their own end for a while. Matt Duchene was awesome and looking great in his first game in Ottawa in a Sens jersey with 5 SOG himself early.

2nd period

Ian Cole takes his second minor penalty of the game but the Pens kill it off confidently. Shortly after it’s killed, Hagelin is in all alone on a breakaway, yadda yadda, still a 0-0 game.

Shots were 8-2 Pens in the period at even prior to the Sens power play so nice to see them bounce back from a sluggish start.

Pittsburgh finally breaks the scoreless tie with a little less than 4 minutes left in the period, the Pens go low-to-high with Conor Sheary finding Olli Maatta on the point, Maatta walks the line and unleashes as shot. Riley Sheahan and Patric Hornqvist are both in front of the net but the puck deflects off (who else) but Hornqvist’s stick and past Craig Anderson to make it 1-0 Pens.

Then just 9 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh strikes again, and again with a point-generated shot! Brian Dumoulin unleashes one and Jake Guentzel in front got a piece of it.

Shots 12-7 for the Pens in the period and 20-17 Pens overall in the game. 2-0 where it counts.

3rd period

Time keeps on ticking and that’s just fine for the Pens. Then, it’s not when Matt Dzingel makes a great pass to Jean-Gabriel Pageau who uses his speed to get past the defense and puts a great shot over Murray to halve the lead to make it 2-1 Pens.

(No GIF found because no one likes the Senators)

Bryan Rust gets a Kris Letang pass and a great chance from right in front but shoots the puck back into the goalie. As this happens Chris Wideman is trying to defend and his legs do something weird when Malkin happens to fall on him. Looked like a bad injury.

Pittsburgh finishes it off with a SHEAHAN GOAL! Ok, so it was an empty net and Sidney Crosby put a beauty of a pass for him but still, goal is a goal.

3-1 is your final.

Some Thoughts

  • Olli Maatta was doing some great PK work, deflecting 3 cross-ice passes headed for a Senator looking for a backdoor play. Quiet plays like that are difficult to quantify but something that was noticed.
  • The other day in practice Mike Sullivan made a concerted effort to get his defenseman to shoot more (as we mentioned in the last recap, where the defensemen had almost 30 shot attempts last game). That mentality paid off big time tonight with Maatta and Dumoulin sending shots to the net for forwards to tip in. Especially against a good goalie, going low-to-high with offense is a great way to generate chances. More, please!
  • And one more thought from the point above, nice to see something Sullivan stresses gets implemented well by the team in the game and it works. A nice sign he’s still pushing the right buttons, the players are responding appropriately and it’s working! Happy, happy, right? Figured to throw that in since some have dared to float the seemingly ridiculous question about Sullivan’s coaching at this point.
  • Sensational game for Murray, he only made 21 saves but several of them were tough ones. Luckily the team didn’t have any real defensive breakdowns and Murray did the rest.
  • Sheahan gets his first as a Penguin and yeah empty netter, but nice to get him off the schnide. More important, as usual, is the non-goal attributes that Sheahan contributes; 22 faceoffs (Crosby had 23, next highest on the team was Malkin’s 9) and again with Sheary-Hornqvist was the best Fenwick line of the team (all at over 62%). And he’s out there in the last minute of a one-goal game. Good all around night for the 3rd line center even without the cherry on top.
  • Speaking of the fanciest of stats: per Natural Stat Trick: Dumoulin was on ice for 12 5v5 shots for, just 4 against. His partner Letang was 13/4 to the good. Dominant night for the Pens top pair.
  • This was already road game #14 of the season for Pittsburgh and 21st game overall, which is league-high and tied for league-high, respectively.

But, the nice thing is a brief reprieve is coming. The Pens only have 2 games in the next week and they’re both at home! Saturday against the dreaded Blackhawks (feels like they always beat the Pens at least 5-1, doesn’t it?) then next Wednesday Thanksgiving eve against Vancouver.