Casey DeSmith hasn’t made too many mistakes this season, but he flubs a routine play leading to a goal against just 28 seconds into the game. A routine shot from the point comes in, DeSmith extends his glove to smother it, misses it somehow and has about three chances to control it. Can’t which is bad because Travis Zajac gets there and fires it into the empty net. 1-0 New Jersey early.
The Pens get off to a slow start, NJ takes 7 of the first 8 shots in the game and they get the first power play too with Evgeni Malkin going to the box for hooking. The Pittsburgh PK has been strong of late and kill the 10th out of their last 11 man-advantages against here.
Pittsburgh later gets a power play and the newly reunited big boys come through. Evgeni Malkin to Sidney Crosby, Crosby measures the defense and rifles a pass down to Phil Kessel for the goal right in front of Ben Lovejoy and goalie Keith Kinkaid. 1-1 game with 6 minutes left in the 1st.
Just an unreal feed from Sid here.
Pittsburgh gets a second power play but don’t score. Period ends 1-1.
Shots are 15-11 NJD after one period.
After a great shift by the Carl Hagelin - Malkin - Patric Hornqvist line to keep a lot of pressure and zone time, Lovejoy is tired and fires a puck over the glass, drawing a 3rd power play for Pittsburgh. They get a couple good looks on the net but don’t score.
It’s NJ who makes it 2-1. Kris Letang tries to reverse the puck to Jack Johnson, but Johnson has already abandoned his position. The Pens chase in the zone a bit and the puck makes its way back to Johnson in the slot who quickly punches it to the corner. It’s not out of danger though and seconds later Taylor Hall has it behind the net with time and space. Bad combo. Hall passes out to Damon Severson who wires a one-time shot in the net.
Then a crazy sequence with John Slaney or some no name guy getting into a fight with Phil Kessel, now I’ve seen it all! To make matters worse for the Devs, they had a breakaway that got whistled dead because Slaney kept getting tangled up with Kessel. Phil picks up an extra minor penalty for some reason but Pittsburgh gets the best chance of the next two minutes while shorthanded with Matt Cullen setting Bryan Rust up for a chance that hits the post but does not go in.
Shots in the 2nd period are 16-10 Devils, 31-21 NJD overall
Four minutes in Crosby comes charging down the right side to the net, receives a shove in the back from Blake Coleman and Crosby and Kinkaid collide. The puck is sitting for Jake Guentzel to punch into the free net 2-2.
The Devils challenge it for Crosby interference, but it is deemed by the refs that Coleman is the reason for the contact, so the goal stands.
NJ gets the lead back though, after a Pittsburgh offensive draw. Letang pinched in, no problem, but then Kessel and Brian Dumoulin both stepped up to Zajac. Neither got him which was a real problem because MVP Taylor Hall was behind all of the Pens. Zajac feeds Hall the puck, and he dekes and goes 5-hole on DeSmith to make it 3-2.
Late in the game Hall earns his 4th point of the night on an empty net goal.
- Casey DeSmith hasn’t really looked like a backup, but what a terrible mistake just 28 seconds in. Not that the team were world-beaters in front of him, but digging an immediate hole doesn’t set a great tone.
- Bryan Rust can’t buy a goal right now. Great short handed chance and shot just didn’t go in. Tough but not much else to say about that one.
- A bit of a mixed bag in the 3rd, Pens don’t allow a shot for the first 8+ minutes of the period, then a bit later it comes crashing down. Would have liked to see Dumoulin back off a bit knowing that Letang had already stepped up and the puck got by him, but he was aggressive and it bit back.
- The sooner the Garrett Wilson experiment is over, the better. Not the reason they’re losing for sure, but just isn’t adding much of anything.
- Olli Maatta played the most of any Pens defenseman not named Letang and it was quietly a pretty solid night for Maatta with 2 shots on goal, 2 more shots missing the net, 2 hits, 1 takeaway and 2 blocked shots.
- Good game for Crosby to get 2 primary assists. Phil at 1+1 had a nice night too. Everyone else? Yawn.
The Pens were behind the 8-ball from the beginning on this one, and though they made it 1-1 and later 2-2, they never could get ahead of the game here and dropped it. On to the next one Thursday night at home against Tampa.