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Penguins vs. Winnipeg Jets Recap: Sidney Crosby does it all! Pens win in OT

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Sidney Crosby scores his 1,000 (and 1,001st and 1,002nd) career point but the Pittsburgh Penguins lose 2 defensemen to injury in the game that Crosby wins in OT.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Eric Fehr gets a sweater and 4RW spot from Josh Archibald (healthy scratch) but otherwise the same lineup as Tuesday's shutout win, with one major exception. Matt Murray gets a night off, Marc-Andre Fleury is in the crease - probably with considerations to get Murray in fresh against Columbus tomorrow night.

1st period

Early on, nice play by the Pens 2nd line to get the 1st goal, 0:59 into the game. Patric Hornqvist backhands a puck on goal after goalie Connor Hellebuyck can't control a Trevor Daley flip on him. Scott Wilson neatly is able to chip the rebound back to Evgeni Malkin who isn't going to miss that much open net. 24th of the season and it's 1-0 Pens early.

Sidney Crosby gets career point 1000 (more on that here) in classic Sid fashion - outbattling a much bigger player and making a great pass. 2-0 Pens.

Shots 17-10 Pittsburgh after 1. Fleury makes a few nice glove saves later in the period.

2nd period

Justin Schultz gets boarded by Dustin Byfuglien and goes face-first into the glass, stays down for a while and leaves the ice looking shaky. Not the most egregious hit ever, but it's clearly from behind and Big Buff definitely pushes off both hands into the back of a defenseless player, resulting in obvious injury. In a perfect league that's suspendable, in the NHL who the hell knows. A penalty for boarding could have been a nice place to start to, but alas.

Maatta would then leave after getting run over by Lowry after releasing the puck. Maatta was seen, glove off flexing his lefr hand on the bench, dropping the Penguins down to 4 defensemen. And you can see he got dumped pretty hard on that hand too.

The Jets get on the board with 2:50 remaining, sensational rookie Patrick Laine finishes off a nice passing play that pulled Dumoulin and Letang away and Fleury out of the net. 2-1.

Shots suddenly tied at 27 a piece, after Winnipeg flips the script and outshoots the Pens 17-10 in the 2nd.

3rd period

Fleury kicks a rebound of a bad-angle shot out to the point where defenseman Paul Postma knuckle-pucks it through the traffic and in. Yuck. 2-2.

Double yuck, Byfuglien circles the net unimpeded and throws a relatively harmless low wraparound that sneaks under Fleury. 3-2 Jets.

After the 3 questionable hits against, Malkin boils over, leaves his feet and crushes Wheeler in the head late. No excuse for this either, but after everything that went against Pittsburgh (and uncalled too), easy to understand the frustration. Still can't head hunt on guys like this unless you've got a time machine to 1999 and have a Scott Stevens jersey on.

Malkin gets a double minor for that (and the ensuing scrum, which there was 1 WIN penalty as well). Wheeler would return to the game shortly.

After the Pens kill that, they get a penalty and Phil Kessel comes through with a nice shot past Hellebuyck's glove and a great screen by Patric Hornqvist too. Ties the game at 3.

That's enough to send the game to OT, shots flaring up to 43-35 Jets in thanks to all their PP time, plus Pittsburgh down to 4 defensemen.

Overtime

Pens give up a more than clean breakaway to Nikolaj Ehlers - who lucky was at the end of a shift and dog-tired so he just tried to shoot after looking back for help that wasn't coming. A lucky break and also a big stop for the Flower.

Late in OT the 2-headed monster comes through. Malkin dekes and dips, passes over to Crosby, drives to the net....Game.

Some Thoughts

  • Milestone night! Career game 600 for Kris Letang
  • And, of course the big 1,000th for Sid.
  • It's old hat at this point, but still so special. Malkin makes a play, Pens score. Crosby makes a play, Pens score. First period over, team up 2-0 thanks to the stars shining bright. In lieu of celebrating the 1,000, it's never a bad time to celebrate just how special and awesome it is to have 71 and 87 on the same team at the same time.
  • Goals in 4 straight games for Kessel, too. He's a little under the radar with the other stars but in the top 10 in scoring in the league and having a fine, fine season.
  • Celebrations aside, the loss of Schultz could be very, very costly if he feels serious effects. Luckily the trade deadline hasn't happened yet, but the Penguins aren't going to be able to replace a RHD who can put up points like Schultz on the trade market right now.
  • Carter Rowney would also leave the game in the 2nd period after a big (but clean) hit from Jacob Trouba. Also in the 2nd period Adam Lowry ran over Olli Maatta well after he released the puck. The Jets were certainly dedicated to their hitting game. Fortunately for Pittsburgh they weren't nearly as effective in the "actually playing the puck hockey" game.
  • With all that physicality (and Columbus next game, and Philly looming in the outdoor game) and considering the majority of the Penguins remaining season is against teams out of the playoffs, it might be time for Tom Sestito to come back up to the NHL in the 12/13th forward role. Sestito (15p in 26 games) isn't playing poorly in the AHL, and he certainly wouldn't deter anyone getting hit, but it took Malkin to lay a check on Lowry to stand up for the guys. Would much rather see Sestito out there for that, especially with the schedule suggesting Pittsburgh should be taking a lot of leads in remaining games and may need some extra size/muscle in their corner if/when other teams want to take liberties to at least have a fitting response.
  • Malkin's hit was bad and worthy of suspension discussion, but Wheeler came back and played so who knows if he'll face discipline with the way the NHL works. The refs certainly lost control of the game after the 3 big and borderline hits, all by WIN players (Buff on Schultz, Trouba on Rowney, Lowry on Maatta) so what can you do. Not a great game by the zebras.
  • Fleury was good early making several great saves but then a bad rebound generates a goal to tie the game, followed closely by one a goalie just has to stop on the wraparound. He made a ton of total stops but boy, needed to get that one that got away.
  • Interesting to see the OT start of Crosby - Jake Guentzel - Letang. A sign of how regarded Guentzel is to leave Malkin and Kessel on the bench for the beginning of the stanza.
  • As expected with 2 D out, Kris Letang with 28:38 played after regulation, 31:07 overall. Beastly game but nothing new there
  • Pens streak of 62-0-0 while leading after 2 periods since start of 15-16 season was in jeopardy since they blew a 3rd period lead, but nothing Sid can't overcome.

No rest for the weary, Pittsburgh travels tonight to play in Columbus tomorrow for a critical Metropolitan division matchup. Hopefully some healthy defensemen