A bit of a surprise- Patric Hornqvist is a scratch late due to a previously unknown injury, so old Tommy Stacks gets his spot in the lineup with bumping anyone else.
Patric Hornqvist is out of tonight's lineup due to an injury. Coach Sullivan will have an update after the game. pic.twitter.com/1t94YUTWv0— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 9, 2017
Also Marc-Andre Fleury probably owes Phil Kessel a buck.
After his big hit on Blake Wheeler last meeting, Evgeni Malkin evens up and gives a fight. Never fun seeing a superstar swinging those hands around (though Malkin seems pretty restrained) and also catching a few on the back of his head.
And, the natural retribution for fighting of a star is for Tom Sestito to challenge Jets tough guy Chris Thorburn to a fight just afterwards.
Now it's finally time to play some hockey and Winnipeg seems inspired. Ron Hainsey gets pulled out of position on a WPG rush and some nifty passes sends in Shawn Matthias is able to score to open the scoring.
But the lead doesn't last long as Nick Bonino brings the Penguins back just 25 seconds later. 1-1
Winnipeg appears to score after a scrum in front of the net, but Matt Murray is shoved into the net, along with the puck. No goal still 1-1.
Hmmmmm . . . pic.twitter.com/ZcLfJjgz3e— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) March 9, 2017
Not for long though, Nikolaj Ehlers uses Justin Schultz as screen and rips a hard high shot. Murray's barely hanging on at this point. 2-1 Jets.
If you know anything about the Penguins you know an emotionally invested Evgeni Malkin is probably the best hockey player alive. Yeah, he's fired up now. 2-2.
Malkin’s goal gives him at least 30 goals for the fifth time in his career. pic.twitter.com/yiSQrLOJ6l— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 9, 2017
Tom Sestito hits Toby Enstrom from behind into the boards, taking a 5-and-a-game for it. See ya Tom!
Sestito hit on Enstrom https://t.co/Jsml5mlKOK— Cassie (@abstracthalo) March 9, 2017
Murray is very shaky at this point with no semblance of rebound control. It costs another goal when he leaves a rebound right in front that Dustin Byfuglien is able to pop home after only the slightest hint of resistance from Ian Cole.
What a goat rodeo of a period! A goalie who is tumbling out of control, a goon who took 3 shits (below), a superstar fighting. A quote from Jackass comes to mind..."That was fun. Let's never do that again"
A total of 3 shifts on the eve for Sestito:— Pensburgh (@Pensburgh) March 9, 2017
1st: Immediate fight
2nd: On ice w Malkin-Kessel, Geno scores
3rd: Boarding major+a misconduct
The Jets give the Penguins a 5-on-3 power play and it turns the game. First Justin Schultz absolutely wires one top-shelf to tie the game at 3.
Excuse us while we catch up on goal GIFs... Here's the 5-on-3 tally from Schultz. pic.twitter.com/PEOtOH3H95— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 9, 2017
Then 20 seconds later Bonino gets his second goal of the night and pushes the Pens out to a 4-3 lead.
Make no Bones about it. That one's in! pic.twitter.com/nkNVTrzn5b— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 9, 2017
Shift after that, Malkin humbles Mark Schiefle and wooo boy Connor Hellebuyck. 3 goals in less than a game minute and it's showers for Hellebuyck at this point.
Geno Scores, Part Two. pic.twitter.com/F47lHQzecS— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 9, 2017
The Jets take another penalty and Pittsburgh makes them pay again. Who else but Nick Bonino, with a regular hat trick! 6-3 Pens.
Shots 25-22 after 40 in favor of Winnipeg. Goals 6-3 Pittsburgh after a 4-0 2nd period. Just a bonkers game here.
Game slows in the 3rd, mercifully. Adam Lowry, apparently needing a diaper change, takes a needless run at Malkin after the whistle late in the game and gets a misconduct.
Later in the game, Jake Guentzel tips a Chad Ruhwedel shot in the net to make it 7-3, because why not? The Jets suck and deserve bad things to happen to them. After the goal, for unknown reasons, a Winnipeg player tries to attack Conor Sheary.
Marko Dano scores a goal with just over a minute left, because why not? 7-4.
- On one hand, easy to respect Malkin for wanting to be a stand-up guy and giving Wheeler a fight to make up for a bad hit. On the other more important hand, Malkin had a lot to potentially lose with a broken hand or concussion or any number of bad things that could have resulted from engaging in a fight. Luckily the worst was avoided.
- Tom Sestito almost sure to be suspended for his hit on Tobias Enstrom. Can't say much more, flagrantly bad to put a guy from behind through the boards like that.
- Murray's been uncharacteristically shaky, obviously fighting the puck and not looking comfortable. His defense isn't making life any easier. A quick look at Murray's stats on the season (particularly high danger save %) shows he's been one of the best in the league at masking breakdowns. He didn't do that tonight and the Pens are playing a dangerous game with his confidence. They need to be stout from the net out and defend better.
- Like Sullivan's move not pulling Murray, even though he was struggling and even though it's rare to see him so shaky. It's March, he's got to figure it out. Pulling Murray last game worked, but the team and goalie can't always count on getting bailed out and rallying every time. Playoffs are soon, and sometimes the best way out is through. Gotta play through it. I'm not sure Murray was much better in the 2nd and then it was a relatively easy 3rd but big picture it could be a positive. And he did stop, what the last 20 pucks he saw until some cheesy one late. By hook or crook, shutting the door over the last 40 minutes is something to takeo of this.
- Watch out for that Sestito-Malkin-Kessel line tho, unreal GF/60.
- Nice see to Bonino get it in gear. I think it's largely forgotten (or at least glossed over) that he wasn't all that good last year from Oct - Feb either. If he's able to heat up in this spring like he was last, it would obviously be very welcomed.
- PK went 5-for-5, an added plus on a crazy night. They were helped since Winnipeg took multiple penalties when they could have taken advantage on the 5-minute major on Sestito.
- Add that perfect PK to a very effective power play night (3 for 5, including 2 Bonino goals) and that's usually a pretty good recipe for success when it comes winning the game.
- Fun to watch Guentzel-Sid-Sheary get to play together in the 3rd. Game was pretty much over and Winnipeg obviously isn't great defensively but fun to see that talent get some time out there together.
Crazy, crazy game, Pens get the win and hopefully emerge injury free and move on for Friday's night big time showdown against the Oilers.