Some much needed reinforcements trickle in with Jake Guentzel back (and back to a 1st line role) and Ron Hainsey getting in too. They replace Sundqvist+Gaunce from the last game, which not to pile on but that suddenly makes the team all the deeper and better just like that.
Welcome back Guentzel and Hainsey! pic.twitter.com/sjvHXaEzRN— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 31, 2017
Game starts fairly quietly. The Rangers carry play early but then a nice shift from Sid and the Kids shifts momentum.
Graphical depiction of a Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary shift pic.twitter.com/pvIH5ud4Nv— Jonathan Bombulie (@BombulieTrib) March 31, 2017
No score in the period but the Pens get a couple of power plays and end up with a 15-8 shot advantage. Henrik Lundqvist had to make a couple of really good stops on Chris Kunitz from in close.
Bob Grove with a foreshadowing tweet before the game:
Crosby has gone 6 straight games without an assist. Never in his career has he gone 7 games without one.— Bob Grove (@bobgrove91) March 31, 2017
Sidney Crosby still won't go 7 games without an assist with this easy tap-in to feed Guentzel in front. Also, don't discount the sauce pass by Phil Kessel to get the puck to Crosby over and through the Rangers defense. Sublime skill to make it 1-0 on the power play for the Penguins.
Sid looks happy his bud is back, doesn't he?
no offence but this is the cutest shit pic.twitter.com/1tSG5rRrvj— kate ️ (@conorshears) April 1, 2017
Crosby then torments Lundqvist, just for fun- taking a shot from behind the goal line that somehow hits the goalie in the head and banks into the net. No one but Sid scores that goal, which is his league leading 43rd of the season.
Ridiculous goals from behind the goal line. ™ pic.twitter.com/yqtUmqgEG9— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 1, 2017
But the Pens don't escape the period unscathed, Chad Ruhwedel fails to clear the zone on a weak clearing effort and Nick Holden takes a point shot that Tom Kuhnhackl tries to block but only gets a piece of and ends up knuckling it by Matt Murray to get NYR on the board. 2-1 after 2.
Rangers goal. Credited to Holden, not sure if Buchnevich redirected it pic.twitter.com/7IFPO4v5TY— steph (@myregularface) April 1, 2017
Shots were 12-9 Rangers in the 2nd period (24-20 overall for the Pens in the game). Goals were 2-1 in the period and 2-1 in the game.
Bryan Rust exploits Lundqvist's 5-hole to make it 3-1. Really nice pass to find Rust in space and somehow he has a ton of open room in the o-zone to pick his spot.
Pens Points (thus far) →— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 1, 2017
Cole 1A pic.twitter.com/BawpxzKVVw
NYR fights back though. J.T Millers gets way too easy a zone entrance and Justin Schultz deflects his effort but unfortunately the puck flutters down across the ice right to Rick Nash and he bangs it in for a goal to make it 3-2.
In the game's dying seconds the Rangers tie it up. Murray can't control a rebound and Chris Kreider finds it and scores. High drama ending 3-3.
Kreider game-tying goal pic.twitter.com/Vp5C0GPQEb— steph (@myregularface) April 1, 2017
Shots 32-30 Pittsburgh in the game.
Wild OT. Guentzel goes balls to the wall and gets tripped as he flies into Lundqvist. Luckily everyone was OK after this one.
(this is actually what happened) pic.twitter.com/Tl9tSF5BU3— steph (@myregularface) April 1, 2017
Then somehow the Rangers get a 3 on 0 rush at first but Murray makes a big save
somehow this was not a goal pic.twitter.com/yIvSaKs0ky— steph (@myregularface) April 1, 2017
some replays of that murray save pic.twitter.com/rggYTfZKvH— steph (@myregularface) April 1, 2017
No one scores in OT so it's shootout time
Mika Zibanejad goes first, no dice. Kessel goes for the Pens and he hits pay-dirt with a deke..Sick shoulder shake here to open up Lundqvist
Kess-GOAL in the shootout. pic.twitter.com/GMGlA17Pgg— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 1, 2017
Mats Zucarello comes in with speed, can't get a shot on goal. Crosby is the hangman coming down from the gallows and Lundqvist doesn't have very long.
We're running out of things to say about Sidney Crosby. Wow. pic.twitter.com/cmoxmOlNSu— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 1, 2017
- Nice to see Guentzel back less than 2 weeks from a concussion. Sure, all he had to do was have his stick on the ice for his goal, but he had to be in the right position and angle for the pass to find him and he did well to do just that.
- Kessel hasn't scored many goals lately, and still looks a bit gunshy at times when it comes to firing shots, but he had a good game. His pass to Crosby on the aforementioned Guentzel goal was a thing of beauty. And his shootout move was pure skill. Hopefully a good sign that he can breakout soon, but even if not he found ways to help the team tonight.
- Even so, Kessel did have 6 shot attempts on the night (2 SOG, 3 blocked, 1 missed) so even if not firing optimally he's still not adverse to look at the net.
- Crosby's game tonight was unreal. The goal he scored just shouldn't happen. As usual, his passes were sublime. Tremendous stuff.
- The Pens need Kessel and Crosby to be good if they want to win these days, and they were.
- Nice to see Hainsey back. He got an assist on the Sid goal and also made a great little backhand shot from in front in OT. Didn't score but added some in the d-zone still, logging 22:05 too. Wasn't eased back in at all and did his part.
- The Cole-Schultz pair still looks stretched to the breaking point. They can probably handle 2nd pair minutes but Schultz played almost 28 minutes and Cole notched 21+. Just a little too much but there's no other choice right now.
- By virtue of the win, Pittsburgh is almost statistically guaranteed to be in the 2/3 matchup for the first round of the playoffs. NYR can max out with 106 points if they win all 4 of their remaining games. The Pens have 105 after tonight with 5 games remaining. Mathematically that's all but wrapped up.
- Murray had a couple of adventurous moments. Was hit in the head/neck with a puck while scrambling that stung him in the 2nd period. He also coulda/shoulda controlled the rebound on the last goal to win in regulation, but didn't. He bounced back in OT and stopped 30/33 to get the win.
Big win to break a 4 game winless streak, Pittsburgh goes back home to meet a red-hot Carolina team on Sunday.