Brian Dumoulin is back after missing the last few games with a concussion. Which means, despite playing well and being the Penguins go-to guy while on the penalty kill, Ian Cole is back to healthy scratch land because.....Well, not really sure what the logical reasoning is behind that at this point.
Opposing Boston has brought the following lineup to Pittsburgh
Right from the start, the Bruins as visitors put on the Patrice Bergeron line. Mike Sullivan counters with Evgeni Malkin and not the Sidney Crosby line, which probably starts 95% of periods and games.
Anyways, matchups aside, Ryan Spooner causes Jamie Oleksiak to lose possession of the puck, the B’s hold the blueline and throw a point-shot on net that Jake Guentzel partially blocks, but unfortunately doesn’t get all of it as the puck floats back to Spooner in front of the net who changes the angle on Tristan Jarry and flings the puck by him just 1:51 into the game.
Just 2:02 later the Pens would get the goal back. Pretty routine puck movement from low-to-high than point-to-point and Oleksiak unleashes a normal looking shot from 59 feet that Tuukka Rask had a sight line on but somehow the puck eludes his glove and it’s 1-1 just like that.
The Pens take a penalty but kill it off then Boston takes a penalty and their #2 ranked PK meets Pittsburgh’s #1 ranked power play and something has to give.
Nice pass by Crosby to Phil Kessel who coolly slides to the middle of the ice and his stick sees a lot of net and it hits top shelf. 2-1 Pittsburgh.
KING OF THE POWER PLAY!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 8, 2018
Kessel’s 27 power-play points are most in the NHL. Crosby and Malkin tally the assists. pic.twitter.com/FtCKRhmPdf
A great shift by the Hagelin-Malkin-Hornqvist line leads to an icing and the Pens have all the momentum. Crosby wins a faceoff back to Kris Letang at the point who one-times it from about 55 feet and again Rask is out to lunch and can’t make a fairly routine save on a long-range shot. 3-1 Pens.
LETANGERANG! That's two big goals from Penguins defensemen so far in the 1st period. Crosby with the faceoff win and the assist. pic.twitter.com/azDfmXUvpd— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 8, 2018
That’s the end of the period, a pretty good one for the Pens in terms of buzzing around the net, even though shots were 9-7 Boston. Helped that Rask gave up a couple of softies.
Boston is on the comeback trail with 2 quick goals. First Brad Marchand snipes Jarry after a faceoff about 7 minutes into the 2nd period to make it 3-2.
Marchand CLEAN off the face-off pic.twitter.com/ZsTNzV2bRZ— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 8, 2018
Then 1 minute later, Brandon Carlo steps up in the offensive zone and send a high puck in on net that Noel Acciari accidentally enough redirects into the net for 3-3.
Then David Pastranak got the puck and I thought “boy he’s been pretty quiet for being such a good player” and he decided to change that, stepping around Dumoulin, circling the net and throwing a shot past Jarry short-side to give Boston back the lead at 4-3.
Bring it arounnnnd townnnn, David Pastrnak pic.twitter.com/vl4hTR7t9S— NBCSN (@NBCSN) January 8, 2018
Boston adds their 4th straight goal of the period when David Backes looks like he’s just throwing a puck on the net and somehow it gets by Jarry, whose night is now over. 5-3 B’s.
For a period that started out with a 3-1 lead, it’s tough to imagine emerging much worse than in a 5-3 hole 20 minutes later. So at least our sweet Evgeni Malkin can score a power play goal to make it 5-4, after a sublime pass from Crosby to find him all alone, and don’t discount the board play (!!!) by Kessel and Hornqvist to keep things alive.
The Pens start off really well with a forceful shift by the Sheary-Guentzel-Kessel line in the offensive zone. This parlays into a line change and Riley Sheahan jumping in the zone, finding space and seeing Rask totally off his angle he throws the puck in the net short-side. 5-5 tie game!
Game continues, at one point there’s 7:02 left in the 3rd and I’ve noticed shots are 16-4 in the 3rd in favor of the Pens, yet we’re still tied.
Then with a little over a minute left, Marchand is sprung on a breakaway and Oleksiak slashes his hands. He’s awarded a penalty shot on Matt Murray who closes up the 5-hole and makes a huge save to keep the game at 5-5.
Tie game. Penalty shot. Marchand on Murray.— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 8, 2018
That save ensures we will have...
Some great puck possession by the Pens on the first shift and Letang hits Crosby for a pass down low but a nice poke-check by Rask prevents a goal.
More work, Boston ices the puck and their tired players are pinned back in the defensive zone. Crosby- Jake Guentzel - Letang go to work and the B’s are absolutely gassed. The Pens even change and get Malkin/Kessel on the ice, but Boston gets lucky when the puck leaves the zone. 2 of them go to change, which is a bad idea since that opens up a lot of room for Kessel and Malkin to give-and-go and Geno puts the puck in the net for the game winner.
Kessel → Malkin → Kessel → Malkin → pic.twitter.com/FbedFZ2vUo— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 8, 2018
Wow what a game.
- It was a nice job by Jarry to bounce back after the early goal against to make 11 save on 12 shots in the first period, including to help kill off two penalties....The second period meltdown...not so much. First two goals of that period were goalie helpless enough, but to stay down and get beat by Pasta wasn’t a good one to give up at that point, and then a bad angle shot to Backes just isn’t a goal to concede and play winning hockey.
- Seems like the Pens give up their fair share of goals too when Dumoulin falls down trying to defend and his man gets plenty of time and space to make a play. Just an observation since it feels like a lot of his mistakes aren’t critiqued, picked apart and mentioned for months at a time like other Pittsburgh defensemen (Maatta..Letang..)
- Crosby and Daniel Sprong were involved in another 2-on-1 in the second period. No goal this time due to a nice defensive play on Crosby’s attempted pass but it’s nice to see Sprong display the instincts now to get in position to take off with Sid on those breaks. Can’t remember too many of his wingers keeping up like that and being in great offensive positioning too often this season.
- Also nice to see Crosby with his passes looking crisp, his skating with the puck looking really good and seemingly looking to shoot more as well. It seems odd to think that a player as skilled and accomplished as Sid needs some confidence, but it always helps to feel like good things are happening within your game.
- For as good as the Pens have made opposing goalies look all season long, Rask was really, really bad. Pittsburgh fans have big fears about him still lingering due to the 2013 playoff series (which, tough to blame) but he hasn’t been that goalie in quite some time.
- Really liked the hustle and energy brought by Tom Kuhnhackl in this one. 3 shots on goal (4 attempts), team high 5 hits, a blocked shot and a takeaway in 9:21 of time. That’s the type of effort the Pens need from the 4th line, and a guy like Kuhnhackl has to realize with 2 young forwards up from the minors and on the 1st line that when some injured guys return his spot in the lineup could be in jeopardy. More of that type of desperation is needed up and down the lineup.
- Interestingly the Pens start the 3v3 OT with Crosby-Conor Sheary - Letang. A bit eyebrow raising to see Sheary get that prime spot, but he certainly does have some experience, is a good player in space and ought to have offensive ability.
- Guentzel seemed a bit lost in the shuffle in his new 3rd line center role with only 12:05 played at even strength. Only the 4th line and Sheary played less there. Probably need to get him in a more featured scoring line role stat. (Especially when arguably the top 2 line LWs in Dominik Simon and Carl Hagelin are not really offering much consistently).
- Murray only had to make 6 saves in 25 minutes in relief, which isn’t much at all...But that penalty shot save with 1 minute in regulation kept the game at 5-5. If that goes in, we’re likely talking about a regulation loss. Instead, the Pens would find a way to win. Big swing there, and things haven’t been going great for Murray but a nice note for him to have here.
Well, it’s almost a shame the Penguins enter their “bye week” now, being as they’re playing pretty well and winning some games...But the team could probably use a reset and get ready for the stretch run. It’s going to have to be better than most of what we’ve seen so far, but tonight was a good start.