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Pens/Ducks Recap: Pittsburgh’s rally falls short

The Penguins rally back in the 3rd period but fall short and lose to the Anaheim Ducks

Pittsburgh Penguins v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

By period this season the Pittsburgh Penguins have given up 45 goals in the 1st period of games. And 40 in the 3rd period of games. In the second period? 58 goals against.

Last night against the Anaheim Ducks was another house of horrors in the second period, as they touched the Penguins up for 4 unanswered goals and used that as the difference of the game to beat the Pens 5-3 (tacking on an empty netter in the game’s last second).

Things started well for the Pens for their first game on this road trip, after a buzzsaw-like offensive zone shift for the Sidney Crosby line, a change was made and Evgeni Malkin’s group got on the ice and converted with Malkin scoring his 20th goal of the season to open the scoring in the first period.

Pittsburgh looked to be in pretty good shape, but then the disastrous 2nd period happened. Goal 1 against was a point-shot that took a double deflection off a pair of Ducks and into the net. No chance for poor Tristan Jarry on that.

On Goal 2, Jake Guentzel (still acting as a center) lost his man and fellow center Adam Henrique near the net, and Henrique was able to dart behind the net and wraparound on Jarry to the far post.

Goal 3, the back-breaker was a short-handed breakaway by Chris Wagner. Like we said in the game preview- both these penalty kills were awesome and would be a factor in this game.

The Pens had a chance to minimize the bleeding, but bad luck intervened. A shot hits the right post, Carl Hagelin lunges at the totally open net but his effort goes off the left post.

The Pens couldn’t escape the period only down 3-1, with about 1:30 left the Ducks would strike again when an Olli Maatta point shot gets blocked by Ondrej Kase and he’s able to go the other way on a breakaway and beat Jarry with a backhand.

At this points, score effects kicked in with Pittsburgh outshooting Anaheim 12-5 in the 3rd period, getting a few power plays and a few goals too. Phil Kessel narrowed the lead to 4-2 with his team leading 21st goal of the season on what else but a laser of a shot over the glove of John Gibson.

The Pens would allow another breakaway (#4 on the night) but Jarry was able to make the save and keep them somewhat in the game. With just under 6 minutes left, Jake Guentzel scored a power play goal to bring it within one.

..But that’s where the Pens ran out of time in their comeback effort. A nice try but they dug their hole a little too deep in the 2nd period and couldn’t get all the way out of it.

Closing Thoughts

  • The lack of a 3rd line center is hindering the Pens now. Guentzel only took 2 faceoffs all game. It’s not that big of a deal for the Pens to lean on Crosby and Riley Sheahan for extra draws, but it is indicative of how this team isn’t constructed very well at the moment. Guentzel losing coverage on Henrique is more evidence that try as they may, the coaches can’t totally shield him from playing defense.
  • Was there a “Want to” difference? Anaheim blocked 17 shots. Pittsburgh, only 9.
  • Pittsburgh did fire and get 33 shots on net, with all skaters (save Dominik Simon and Brian Dumoulin) recording at least 1 SOG.
  • Random, useless bit of interesting trivia: Kessel was on the ice for 6 of the game’s 8 goals.
  • Conor Sheary giveth (a game high 3 giveaways) and Conor Sheary taketh (a game high 3 takeaways).
  • Needless to say, don’t take a bathroom break or run to the fridge when the Pens get a man-advantage. They were on the PP for 5:09 of the game and in that stretch they scored twice and allowed a goal. There were only 4 other goals scored in the game’s other 53 minutes where a goalie was in the net.
  • Closing thought: “We just made big mistakes in the second period, and give up that many goals and that many breakaways in a short period of time you’re putting yourself in a tough spot. We didn’t help ourselves.” —Sidney Crosby

No rest for the weary as the Pens are back at it tonight against the LA Kings. Not much travel involved but we’ll see how they bounce back against a rested opponent.