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Pens/Rangers Recap: Lady luck not a Pens fan tonight. NYR wins

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The Penguins catch some bad breaks, and can’t make the most of opportunities and fall 4-3 to the New York Rangers

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

No changes from recent games for the Penguins. A bit of a gameday surprise for the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist has the flu (the “Pittsburgh flu”???) and won’t play so backup Ondrej Pavelec gets his first game since late October.

1st period

First shift Kevin Hayes somehow gets behind the defense and gets a breakaway on Tristan Jarry. Cool as the other side of the pillow, Jarry stays with the feints and feigns and stops Hayes with the blocker.

Nothing much going on early, about the most interesting chance is when Justin Schultz springs Ryan Reaves on a breakaway and Reaves actually gets a pretty good wrist shot that clinks on the far-side of the post.

After the Rangers get the better of the scoring chances, it’s Pittsburgh who strikes first with a 1st line goal. Patric Hornqvist makes a beauty of a backhand pass through the crease to Conor Sheary who quickly fires the puck through a maze of sticks and bodies and into the net to make it 1-0 Pens.

The Rangers get it back though fairly quickly with a real life person name Boo (tough to take seriously) scoring a wrist shot 5-hole on a screened Jarry. 1-1 game.

NYR gets a power play but per their tradition don’t do much with it.

Period ends and shots are 10-4 NYR, which does show that the Rangers had more zone time, Natural Stat Trick had scoring chances 1-0 NYR, which is a bit odd being as the Penguins actually scored a goal but we digress.

2nd period

The Pens must have gotten the memo that Ondrej freaking Pavelec is in the net because the finally start shooting from all over the ice and he shakily looks like he’s just flinging himself all over the place and racking up some scoring chances. The 2nd line comes through with a goal, Jake Guentzel from behind the net feeds Phil Kessel who quickly throws a puck on net and in the net. 2-1 Pens.

Pittsburgh gets their first power play of the game later on, some good zone time but too many passes and only 1 SOG. Evgeni Malkin does shoot the puck off the post again.

The Rangers tie the game on an odd-man rush with Jesper Fast swatting in a rebound to make it 2-2.

The Pens 3rd line draws a power play but the top group is again too fancy. Olli Maatta does ring a third Pittsburgh shot off the post on the night. The Rangers would make them pay for not scoring. JT Miller throws a home run pass to Mats Zuccarello who snuck behind the Pens defense and again shoots 5-hole on Jarry. 3-2 NY.

Shots are a whopping 23-8 in favor of Pittsburgh in the period, however goals are 2-1 NYR in the period and 3-2 in the game with only 20 minutes left.

3rd period

The teams trade minor penalties early and the Pens end up with a brief power play. And it only takes a brief time for Malkin to take his turn for a long lead-pass that hits Hornqvist in stride. The Swede makes no mistake with a hard wrist shot by Pavelec to tie the game at 3.

The Pens get some huge zone-time following this, but then bad luck strikes when the play finally goes the other way. Pavel Buchnevich tries to center a pass but it hits Kris Letang’s skate and quickly flies top-shelf into the net. 4-3 NYR on a crazy bounce.

The Pens keep pouring it on with incredible pressure, shots, chances and zone time. Malkin hits his 2nd post of the night with less than 3 minutes left. The play is flowing with very few whistles which seems good since it feels like a goal is inevitable but also a disadvantage since the clock is quickly running out.

Pens pull the goalie, keep the effort up but can’t beat the clock.

Some thoughts

  • Scary play in the first period on the play where Ian Cole got a penalty for taking down Rick Nash - Nash ended up sliding into the back of Justin Schultz and almost rolling him up on his legs. Schultz would leave for the locker room a little gingerly, return for a brief time in the 2nd but then leave the game again for good.
  • Doesn’t it seem like more often than not the Pens have to finish games against the Rangers with only 5 defensemen?
  • On Kessel’s goal, it was a nice job by Phil who falls back to cover the point for a defenseman who pinched in, then he sees the puck is turned over and he jumps into open space. Great example of Kessel very plugged in and playing an excellent all-around game right now.
  • Kessel’s play was followed up by Malkin as well, he looked very engaged and full of energy all over the ice. Those two talents look especially motivated now that they actually have not only a competent left winger but a great offensive one in Guentzel. It’s a line that should hopefully be kept together because they’re making good things happen all over the ice.
  • So too does the first line look like it’s clicking, Hornqvist is playing as well overall as any winger in the league in the past 2 weeks or so, and producing like it too.
  • Be it coincidence or just following success or noticing a trend, it seemed like the Rangers were shooting low and for the 5-hole often on Jarry. Will be interesting to see if this is something that’s carried on for the future. The league learns quickly these days and 2 goals were surrendered 5-hole tonight.
  • Per Natural Stat trick Olli Maatta was on ice for 32 Corsi Events for and just 7 against. Big time game for him.
  • 4 goal posts hit by Pittsburgh, NYR gets a 3rd period goal to break the tie on a lucky bounce. Momma said there’d be days like this.

Entertaining, hard-fought game but the 4-game winning streak is over. The home stand continues on Thursday night with a visit by the other NY team, the Islanders.