Matt Cullen joins Hornqvist in the 2nd surprise injury scratch in as many games tonight, so Oskar Sundqvist makes his season debut. Carter Rowney also gets in a game for the first time since the 6th grade picnic taking the spot of the freshly suspended bonehead Tom Sestito. On the first night of the b-2-b, Marc-Andre Fleury gets the net as well.
Almost hockey time in Edmonton.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 11, 2017
Matt Cullen is out of the #Pens lineup with an injury. pic.twitter.com/PGGcVuxarR
Nicky Bones stays red hot. Coming into this game-
Bonino had 1 goal in his first 29 road games this season and 3 in his last one.— Bob Grove (@bobgrove91) March 11, 2017
Make that 4 goals in the last 2, Bob! Nice work here from Scott Wilson to collect the loose puck off a Justin Schultz shot, wheel around the net and find Nick Bonino. Not really sure what the hell Cam Talbot is doing here, not a very flattering GIF of him.
Two games, four goals.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 11, 2017
And two periods to go. pic.twitter.com/xm0dNaZfwE
Penguins push it to 2-0 on a crazy play. Evgeni Malkin blasts a slapshot that leaks through Cam Talbot. Connor McDavid tries to help by kicking at the puck away from the net, but it hits a scrambling Talbot and the puck bounces into the net. 2-0
Uh ohhh. pic.twitter.com/WGPySmzIES— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 11, 2017
Strong road period, the Penguins outshoot the Oilers 13-8, outscore them 2-0.
All Edmonton early in the 2nd and they get on the board, Kris Russel throws a long-range shot in that ends up with Zach Kassian around the net. Kassian gets it over to David Fancyname and he taps a backhand into the net. 2-1.
THE NEW GUY! #PITvsEDM pic.twitter.com/NWprMhUNko— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 11, 2017
Thankfully the only goal of the period, the Pens were on their heels pretty much the whole time getting outshot 15-6 in the 2nd stanza. Seemingly couldn't do much of anything right and the Oilers played a very strong period.
Pittsburgh doesn't come out great, McDavid makes a great pass to Leon Draistaitl but his shot rings off the post.
Leon strikes iron. #PITvsEDM pic.twitter.com/xKF7PlQYFl— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 11, 2017
Edmonton draws it to a tie. Jordan Eberle goes down awfully easy and gets a call. As the penalty ticks down, the Oil get some good luck when a point-shot bounces right to the stick of McDavid. With Fleury out challenging the shot, he's out of the net and McDavid scores in the right net this time to tie the game at 2. Turns out Rowney on McDavid isn't a good idea.
Another look at the equalizer! #PITvsEDM pic.twitter.com/F3AIH4vkxi— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 11, 2017
4 minutes left, the Oil hit yet another post, Malkin makes a desperation long pass/clear that somehow ends up in a Phil Kessel breakaway...Cam Talbot keeps up and shuts the door. Two great chances for each team but the score remains the same.
No one scores so we get free hockey.
McDavid plays a long shift and gets a breakaway. He does about a million dekes but can't get a shot off. Later Eberle shoots but Fleury kicks his leg up and stops him.
Whoa. pic.twitter.com/XmN9oYd8OC— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 11, 2017
Eberle can't catch Kessel and trips him, giving a late game power play for the Pens. Pittsburgh can't do much with it.
Fleury stops Andrej Sekera with 5 seconds left in OT and this one is shootout bound
1) Draistaitl tries some nonsense, easy save for Fleury....Malkin swings out wide and slow, tosses an uninspired shot that hits the outside of the post and doesn't score.
2) Former Penguin Mark Letestu comes in and MAF stones him....Crosby responds with a heck of a shot and a goal.
3) McDavid answers Sid with a nasty shot of his own....Kessel for the win and he nails crossbar and wraps it in and around.
It's a beautiful day for a Phil Kessel shootout goal. pic.twitter.com/9dfrJYM1od— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 11, 2017
Game. Set. Match.
- Really liking Ron Hainsey on the penalty kill. He's got great gap control, good awareness, active stick, veteran positioning and when the puck is on his stick he clears it cleanly, multiple times tonight. Strong add to that unit that really needed a good defensive defenseman,
- Lines were about optimal in the face of injuries. Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary? Yes, yes yes. Perhaps even better, the Chris Kunitz -Bonino-Wilson line were buzzing as much as anyone.
- Well, aside from Malkin. Big Gene with his 32nd of the year, a little lucky but as Billy Zane in Titanic taught us, a real man makes his own luck.
- Edmonton had a lot of push. I'm sure they must have seen this game, at this time of the year, as something of a measuring stick to compete against the defending champs and see how good their young team could be. If I were a team in the Western Conference, I wouldn't want to see this fast, strong Edmonton squad in the first round of the playoffs. Not sure if they have the defense to win a round or two but they could certainly put an upset scare as a WC or #3 division seed if they're as energized as the effort tonight.
- Fleury deserves credit for playing well and keeping the puck out of the net, but if we're going to throw stones at Murray for his rebound control last game, MAF in the 2nd period was every bit uncontrolled. A bit of chaos is his style, and hey, he got the job done, no complaints but just an observation.
- Brian Dumoulin continues to struggle in his own end at key times. On one controlled breakout starting behind his own net in the 2nd, he stalled for several seconds to have the team setup (perfectly OK). But then he made a pass with his feet standing still that turned into an instant turnover and shot against. Oy.
- He didn't get much an opportunity in a close game that was very intense but a very quiet opening night for Sundqvist. Not necessarily bad, just how it was.
- The Oilers dominated Pittsburgh in the faceoff circle, winning a comical 77% overall. No regular Penguin center was even close to 50%. Bonino was 1 for 9 at one point in the 3rd period, 2/10 total. Malkin was just 1/7. Even the normally good Crosby was a putrid 5/20 on the night. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
- McDavid is super good
Exciting game. Pens have a quick turnaround and play tomorrow night in Vancouver. After having to expend a ton of energy tonight, they're going to need to recoup a lot in a little amount of time (and travel too). Won't be an easy task, but welcome to the NHL.