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Penguins/Devils Game Recap: Boyle’s hat trick sinks Pittsburgh

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Another slow start and bad night for the Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

Chad Ruhwedel is getting scratched tonight, opening the door up for Juuso Riikola to get back in the lineup and, oh dear God those defense pairings.

1st period

Early in the game the Devils strike, the 4th line’s first shift Derek Grants loses a faceoff clean in the defensive zone and NJ works the puck from right to left to Will Butcher. Daniel Sprong is no where near the point man and Matt Murray’s skate appears to get caught awkwardly in the ice as he stumbles over to play the angle. He fails to get there in time and Butcher has plenty of time and space to wrist the puck into the top of the net.

Kris Letang takes a fairly weak retaliation call to send Pittsburgh short-handed soon after. Tough since Sidney Crosby might have had the puck on a 2-on-1 that got wiped out. Instead, short-handed Bryan Rust is on a 2-on-1 and rips the puck....off the post. Nothing going right early for the Pens in this one.

But that changes about mid-way through the first period, when it’s the Pens turn to win an offensive-zone faceoff and get a defenseman to score. Crosby wins the draw, Jake Guentzel tips it to Olli Maatta who makes a nice pass over to Jamie Oleksiak. Oleksiak rockets his shot from 55 feet past the glove of Keith Kinkaid for the Big Rig’s 4th goal of the season. 1-1 tie.

The Devils retake the lead with former Penguin Ben Lovejoy taking a shot from the point that Riley Sheahan tries to block but can’t, and Brian Boyle looks to have tipped ever-so-slighty to direct the puck past Murray, off the post and into the net. 2-1 New Jersey.

The Pens get their first power play and promptly give up a 140 foot breakaway to slow and old Andy Greene somehow. Greene goes to his backhand and Murray makes a big stop to keep the puck out of the net there.

Shots end up 14-11 New Jersey after 1.

2nd period

The teams change chances freely; Joey Anderson gets a breakaway but Murray shuts him down, then at the other end Sprong sets up Matt Cullen with a nice little pass but Kinkaid is there, then immediately the Penguins give up another breakaway to Jean-Sebastien Dea this time, who tries to go 5-hole on Murray but it’s not there.

Just four minutes into the period shots are 6-2 NJD in the 2nd and several of them were quality chances. The Pens continue to ask an awful lot of their goaltending.

Malkin turns the puck over in the NZ springing Miles Wood for a good chance that Murray stops but the Pens take a hooking penalty. The Devils strike quickly on it, with Boyle getting his 2nd of the night deflecting a shot between his legs that goes to the top corner of the net. No hope for Murray on that one on such a nice hand-eye play and fortunate result to have it go top shelf. 3-1.

10:16 left in the 2nd the Pens get a gift when a Jersey player takes a ticky-tack slash call. The Pens need it but they don’t do much with it, unfortunately wasting away a chance to get into the game.

Not much else going on. Lovejoy and Patric Hornqvist get into a shoving match in front of the NJD net, nice to see someone trying to show so emotion and generate a spark there, but nothing comes from it. Next shift out Hornqvist keeps going HAM, taking Sami Vatanen down cleanly with a hit but then cross-checking him in the chops which earns a penalty. Crosby must have got pissed off at Mirco Mueller along the way, as they start exchanging some gloved punches. Jack Johnson makes himself of use and piles on Mueller.

Hornqvist, Johnson and Mueller all end up in the box giving NJ a power play and they again strike quickly on it, and it’s again Brian Boyle- completing his hat trick. Boyle snaps a one-timer moving cross-ice that Murray can’t catch up with. 4-1 Devils at the second intermission.

3rd period

The Pens end Murray’s misery and put Casey DeSmith in the fire. He gives up a goal on the first shot he sees 19 seconds into the period after the Pens defense leaves Travis Zajac all alone, just further illustrating the problem isn’t the goaltending it’s the lax play of the players.

From here on out there was no more score and I imagine many of you found something else to do for the rest of the evening. I know I did.

Some Thoughts

  • The Pens were very bad again tonight. When they’re good they’re great, when they don’t want to be there they stink. Tonight it was the latter.
  • Not too much more to analyze in a no-show, liked Hornqvist at least trying to create some sort of spark and show something out there, even if it did backfire on the team. Oh well, not like they were going to do anything anyways.