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Recap: Pittsburgh is the lion in the jungle as they smack down the Islanders

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Kris Letang and Phil Kessel each score 2 goals in a big win for the Pens

NHL: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

Dominik Simon is out from getting hurt last game, welcome back to the lineup Garrett Wilson. Everything else is the same.

1st period

The Penguins get on the board first, and Kris Letang doing the honors. Derick Brassard feeds Letang with a pass and #58 one-t’s it over the glove side on Thomas Greiss to open things up 8:34 in.

Never a great sign when a 4th liner takes a slashing penalty in the offensive zone. Take a bow, Derek Grant. Luckily the Islanders can’t do much with the game’s first power play.

Soon after, Evgeni Malkin draws a penalty, the defense almost expected Geno to dish off to Phil Kessel on the wall, but Malkin kept the puck and drove to the net, forcing them to hook him. But it’s also an uneventful power play for Pittsburgh.

The Pens get another power play when Mat Barzal high sticks Jack Johnson and the problems of giving up a goal while on the PP continue. 8th time this season. Just poor play all around- Jamie Oleksiak loses the puck to a Tom Kuhnhackl (!!) stick check. Olli Maatta converges on the puck and doesn’t get there. Tanner Pearson isn’t covering a man. Casey DeSmith misses with a poke check and his 5-hole is wide open for Brock Nelson to easily slide a backhanded shot in. Unreal.

But Letang puts the Pens up again just 28 seconds before intermission. Letang’s closer to the blueline and again goes glove side with a slap shot for his 7th of the season.

Shots are 8-7 Pens for the period.

2nd period

Patric Hornqvist doesn’t return from the locker room for the 2nd period. Riley Sheahan leads the committee to replace him on the Malkin line.

Marcus Pettersson goes to the box for a holding call 3:07 into the period but the Pens PK does the job again to keep NYI off the board.

Then Sheahan strikes up on that Malkin line to push the score to 3-1. An impressive job by him to give some hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of mid-air. Looked close to being over the cross-bar and too high for a good goalie, but after a brief video review officials confirmed it would stand.

Johnson gets grabbed and the Pens get another power play, and for all the consternation they give, and troubles they create and drama and bad feelings....Sometimes you remember the captivating, memorizing skill and ability these guys have. Tic-tac-toe in the net, as if each player is already acting before he even gets the puck. Just a thing of beauty to push Pittsburgh up 4-1 on the back of this Phil Kessel tally.

The Pens keep pouring it on, with the rare Crosby-Kessel even strength shift. It pays off as they both merge in to the net and Sid hits Phil with an easy, slam dunk goal to make it 5-1.

Shots in the 2nd period are 13-3 Pittsburgh! 3 goals for the Pens too, in what has to be one of the most complete and best periods they’ve had all season.

3rd period

Early on NYI gets one back with Anders Lee scoring a goal to make it 5-2 on the backhand.

Time slips away and just for fun Sidney Crosby picks the corner from a sharp angle to take it to 6-2 for his 15th goal of the season.

Score effects lead for a 10-7 shot advantage for New York in the 3rd, but it ends 28-21 Pittsburgh for the night overall.

Some Thoughts

  • Jack Johnson got trifled with twice and drew two power plays, his biggest impact on the game. Happy days!
  • Already feel heartburn after Hornqvist left early, just a few games after coming back from a concussion. Hopefully it’s not too bad, whatever it is, this time around.
  • But the Hornqvist injury led to some interesting combos. Putting Sheahan on Malkin’s wing seemed “weird flex, but ok” as the kids say, however it paid off instantly with Sheahan scoring a huge goal to push the lead to 3-1, and in hindsight the Pens would never really look back from that point.
  • We also got to see a Brassard-Crosby-Kessel line coming out of a commercial break for an o-zone draw. The Pens under Mike Sullivan have been a lot of things, but creative and mixing things up in an unorthodox way every once in a while....Probably not so much. So it’s cool to see some unusual twists involved, even if it’s born directly from only having 11 forwards.
  • As said above, arguably the best effort and game this team has had since....the 9-1 win in Calgary? The Pens were great, limited NYI to just 11 shots through 40 minutes. Scored 5 goals of their own, just putting a total stamp on this game. Can’t ask for much more.
  • Two goals generated in a hurry by Sid and Phil at even strength later on in the game. Not sure the styles make that a long term match made in heaven, but for now- why mess with what’s working?
  • A fairly quiet 3 assist game for Jake Guentzel, but come summer time when it’s contract time it will look great all the same.
  • Pens improve to 5-2-2 in the last 9 games, starting to get a little bit back on track here.

And now the boys hit the road for a 3 game road trip starting Saturday night in Ottawa. Join us here and we’ll have you covered for it all.