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Penguins vs. Devils Recap: Crosby, Kessel get going in Pens win

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With injuries mounting, the Penguins top two players in the lineup (Sid Crosby and Phil Kessel) combine for 3 goals and Pittsburgh downs New Jersey 6-4

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Not gonna lie, mainly highlight driven recap today as your boy was out on a whiskey infused night last night.

Pregame

Welcome back to the NHL Derrick Pouliot! Thanks to injuries (and to show he's totally not a goon called up for just one game, totally!) the Penguins also dress Tom Sestito, fresh off a 4 game suspension.

1st period

The Devils strike for the first goal of the game just 5 minutes in on a perfectly executed breakout rush from behind the net that stretched the Pens like crazy. Not sure what Pouliot is doing here as Kyle Palmieri outskates him fairly easily and very decisively to get a clean path to the net.

In a shakeup move, the Pens put Kessel on the left wing, a position he's never really played in Pittsburgh. That pays off with Kessel coming down the left side and snapping a shot past Keith Kinkaid. For Kessel it's his first goal in 14 games very soon after the first goal to answer Jersey and make it 1-1.

The Pens take the lead when Brian Dumoulin's point shot is blocked but ends up in traffic and Jake Guentzel finds the loose puck before anyone else in front of the net and puts in home to make it 2-1 good guys.

The Devils equalize though with a pass through Ian Cole and Stefan Noesen all alone in front with Pouliot apparently getting lost in coverage and not rolling to the front of the net when Cole got pulled to the corner. 2-2 game.

With time almost out on the first period, the Pens finally strike on a 5v3 powerplay. Excellent pass from Mark Streit right on the stick of Sidney Crosby. Crosby fires his 36th goal of the year home and gives PIttsburgh a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes.

Shots 17-13 in favor of Pittsburgh, goals 3-2. Holy cow, most Devils games don't even end 3-2, let alone a single period.

2nd period

The game settles down but Nick Bonino strikes to make it 4-2 with 4 minutes left in the period. Nice passing by Tom Kuhnhackl and Carter Rowney here and nice to see Bonino finishing more of these lately.

Beau Bennett of all people answer that goal. NJD takes an outside shot that Matt Murray leaves a rebound in a really bad spot that Pouliot kinda swats at, doesn't get and Bennett is able to snap it in the net. 4-3 lead for Pittsburgh.

Late in the period Kessel's speed earns a penalty shot but Kinkaid makes a save.

Shots 32-26 for Pittsburgh after 2.

3rd period

Early in the period on a 4v4 sequence Murray makes about 4 saves in close on great chances, with an assist to Streit blocking a shot that's probably saving a goal as well. Important stops to not allow the game to be tied.

And then the lead gets extended. Carter Rowney scores his first career NHL goal later, nice little pass by Kuhnhackl and really good patience for Rowney to out-wait the sprawling goalie and then shoot when there's basically a full net to shoot at. 5-3 Pens.

The Devs get it back on a powerplay, rough look for Ian Cole who falls apart and turns the puck over behind his own goal-line and yeah that never ends well. 5-4. Sullivan challenges for goalie interference but it rightly was upheld as a good goal.

The Pens salt the game away on an empty netter for Crosby, but take note of the great effort made by Sheary to gain control of this puck, really what makes the easy goal possible is the hustle of Sheary.

6-4 what a game!

Some Thoughts

  • Conor Sheary got hit by a puck in the face while sitting on the bench in the 2nd period and had to leave but would luckily return. Is there nowhere safe or sacred for this team to avoid getting hurt?
  • With Evgeni Malkin out, the other stars needed to step up. Crosby (2g+1a) and Kessel (1g+ penalty shot) were impact players as they needed to be.
  • Tough game for Pouliot. Can't be easy to be on the yo-yo but injuries earned him another NHL shot and he did not make the most of it. Basically got benched after being on the ice for his 3rd goal against, playing only 2 shifts for 1:17 total in the 3rd period.
  • Ian Cole had a rough go too, and again played a ton (a time-high 23:43, all of it ES or PK except 2 seconds). They have no choice but to put a ton on his plate and it's easy to see he's getting fatigued and making more mistakes later in games. Ideally this can be addressed and minutes limited to something more reasonable, but again, there isn't much of a choice in a tight game than to play the best players left.
  • Mark Streit kicked some ass in the Corsi department on ice for 19 attempts for and just 8 against. No one could have foreseen this many injuries but it's sure looking wise to have picked him up at the trade deadline.
  • 10 of the 12 forwards recorded at least a point, as you would expect on a 6 goal night. Good times had by all.
  • Lots of players had one assist on the night, only 1 player on the Pens had 2 assists. That would be Kuhnhackl. Some nice passing out there too for him.
  • Nice to see Hornqvist return after 2 weeks out with a concussion. He got an assist on the Kessel goal and was credited with 5 hits so I'd assume it's safe to say he hit the ground running in his usual, typical great style.
  • If you wish to read more about this game, a strong recommendation for the All About the Jersey recap from our NJD blog. Always love their perspective and take on the games.

Apologies again for the late recap, I only saw highlights of this one so feel free to point out any context or developments I may have missed. Next game in Sunday at 1:00 against Florida.