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Penguins vs. Bruins Highlights: Zach Aston-Reese’s 3 point night helps Pittsburgh to win

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Big night for ZAR, big night for Casey DeSmith

NHL: Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineup

Garrett Wilson is back in at the expense of Jean-Sebastien Dea (scratched). Casey DeSmith starts for the 7th straight game.

1st period

If you read the game preview here, the first period was mostly a Bruins style period. What does that mean? Generally low events, few scoring chances.

However, Brad Marchand found himself all alone in front of the net, puck on his backhand and a glorious look at the net. But a look is all he got as DeSmith makes a 10 bell save on him to keep the game scoreless.

As is Hockey Law, make a big save at one end, that team will soon score. And it’s the 4th line, no less! Wilson starts the play by making a big hit, and Matt Cullen does well to feed Derek Grant while drawing in two Bruins players. Grant has a look at the net and instead of looking 5-hole, he dips down and leans out to shove the puck far side around Penguin-nemesis Jaroslav Halak. Beauty of a goal all around.

Shots end up 11-9 Boston in the first period, but Grant has the only goal.

Second Period

After a bit of grumbles about the play of the second line, the big boys break through and score. Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin play a bit of a two-man game passing the puck around, capped off by Geno hitting Phil with a pass and Kessel quickly whipping a shot from distance past Halak. 2-0 Pens.

Boston thinks they score when DeSmith is knocked over and the puck is swatted off his stomach and into the net but after a lengthy review, no goal. Whistle might have blown thep lay dead prior to the puck going in the net, but this is the NHL so they never can make anything clear.

But then the B’s get on the board for real soon after that. Pittsburgh’s defense collapses down and the puck bounces out to Brandon Carlo. Carlo steps into hammer a slapper thaat flies by everyone and into the net. 2-1.

Guentzel takes a penalty but it’s the Pens who get on the board. Riley Sheahan and Zach Aston-Reese team up to block a shot and take the puck the other way on a 2-on-1. Sheahan dishes a nice saucer pass and ZAR makes no mistake firing it by Halak to extend the score to 3-1 in the last minute of the period.

Shots for the period end up 18-9 for Boston (they did have a 4:00 - 0 edge in power play time) but a big period for Pittsburgh.

Third period

Chris Wagner draws Boston back with in one, slapping one just before Letang can deflect it away. 3-2.

And then they quickly tie it- David Pastrnak takes down Olli Maatta and skates on in alone. Pasta hits the post and DeSmith is out of sorts so David Krejci can find the rebound and lift a backhand into the open net. 3-3 just like that.

Things were looking down, but then Sidney Crosby wins an offensive zone faceoff, Kris Letang puts a shot on goal that goes in! A masterful deflection by Guentzel for his 13th goal of the season to push the Pens back in front 4-3.

Boston turns up the heat with a bunch of shots but DeSmith stands tall. Bryan Rust blocks a ton of shots in the last minute flurry.

And then that’s it. Crosby shoulders off Torey Krug and makes a pass for Aston-Reese to tap in the empty netter with 5 seconds left. 5-3

Some Thoughts

  • Zach Aston-Reese was an interesting choice for Malkin-Kessel third wheel, but at this point what did they have to lose and who else was there to use on the left side there? Aston-Reese brought some energy and dished out 4 hits in the first period alone, several of them big impactful ones. Not sure if the two skilled vets took anything tangibly from it, but it was nice to see something added to their other wing.
  • If it didn’t benefit the big dogs, it sure did benefit ZAR to have such a great game. It was only goals #3 and #4 and assist #3 on the season for him so seeing a bit more consistency and continuation of the production will be needed, but a terrific game for the youngster.
  • Tanner Pearson, however, did not last even a full period on the Crosby line before he got shuffled down and Bryan Rust got elevated up. Not really sure what the coaches saw or might not have liked, but they sure didn’t wait long before Pearson-Crosby-Guentzel became Guentzel-Crosby-Rust. Pearson would drop down to Brassard’s line, where Rust started.
  • Pens move up to 3-1 when wearing the yellow alternate jerseys and 11-10-6 when NOT wearing the jerseys so I think the only solution is more cowbell err yellow.
  • You can learn a lot about who the coaches really like based on starts. For Boston’s second power play of the game we had the penalty called, a TV timeout to rest and then the start of the PP. So basically, everyone is fresh and ready to go. Who do the Pens like here? Riley Sheahan - Aston-Reese with their first pair defense of Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang. Sheahan and ZAR would team up to score the SHG on their second shift of that PK.
  • Second time in three games the fourth line gets on the scoreboard. Nice to see that secondary scoring pitch in.
  • DeSmith with a career-high 48 saves on the night. He was big time in this one.
  • Letang left the game in a lot of pain with a left leg injury with 4:57 left after colliding with a Bruin and clearly that matters more than the result of this game.