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PIT-ANA RECAP: Ducks Blank Dreadful Penguins, Win 4-0

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Following a heated shootout win over the Blue Jackets, the Penguins played host to the Anaheim Ducks in a Christmas Eve Eve showdown.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

The Penguins (18-15-3) faced off against the Anaheim Ducks (15-13-8) in a game on Festivus day. A fierce and physical win against the Blue Jackets on Thursday had the Penguins reenergized with the hopes of some nice home cooking.

As Bob Grove notes, depth scoring has been, uh, not good:

With all that said, the Penguins came into the game with this lineup:

And the Ducks started out like this:

1st Period

Three minutes in, a combination of Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin turned the puck over at the Penguins’ blue line to allow the Ducks to score and take an early lead on the quick breakaway. Ondrej Kase was the goalscorer.

At the halfway point of the period, Rickard Rakell took the puck away from Carter Rowney after what looked like a failed clear and took a shot at Murray, the puck trickled past the goalie, over the line, and the Ducks were out in front with a 2-0 lead.

Both teams would trade a few chances here and there, but the period would end with the Ducks taking a two-goal lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes.

2nd Period

Three minutes into the period, Hampus Lindholm was caught clearly boarding Ryan Reaves, and this gave the Penguins the game’s first power-play.

And seconds into the power-play there was a goal... for the Ducks. The puck took a bounce off of the wall, out of the zone, and Andrew Cogliano would bury a very easy shorthanded goal. Murray would subsequently be pulled for Tristan Jarry.

With nine minutes left in the period, Jake Guentzel was interfered with by Ryan Getzlaf, giving Pittsburgh another chance to get on the score sheet. This power-play would be killed as well.

Near the 19-minute mark, Brian Dumoulin was called for holding Anaheim’s Kase.

With 3.4 seconds left, Cam Fowler effectively put the final nail in the coffin with an Anaheim PP goal:

3rd Period

Six minutes into the period, Bryan Rust and Hampus Lindholm were both called for holding, giving both teams some time with 4v4 action.

This period was played in a very quick fashion, as the officials were not keen on prolonging the inevitable.

With four minutes to go in regulation, Patric Hornqvist was called for tripping. The Penguins would eventually kill this.

Time would soon wind down and the Penguins would be shut out by a score of 4-0. This was the first time the Penguins were shutout since Steve Mason and the Flyers did it on March 15, 2017 in another 4-0 loss.

Final Thoughts

  • Turnovers galore for the Penguins tonight. These were the main reason for the Penguins’ demise.
  • Historically, John Gibson and his .859 career save percentage against the Penguins has been the Ducks’ Achilles heel, but tonight he was fantastic, making many big saves.
  • The roster freeze ends on December 28 at 12:01 a.m. and judging by this and other recent performances, GMJR may be itching to make a second-half shakeup. Only time will tell.
  • The Penguins will be back in action on December 27 when they host the Blue Jackets once again.