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Penguins vs. Blues Recap: Sid gets 400, 401 and Murray shines bright. Pens win

Sidney Crosby scores 2 goals and Matt Murray stops 33/34 pucks in an early afternoon game and big win for the Pittsburgh Penguins over the St. Louis Blues.

Pittsburgh Pengiuns v St Louis Blues


The Penguins shuffle around some left wingers but the players are all the same as Friday night’s loss in Dallas.

And here’s the Blues starters, since that’s all they give you graphically on the tweeter machine

1st period

The Pens get an early power play after a St. Louis high stick but are unable to score. After the first TV timeout, the Blues play a video for Ryan Reaves and he receives a standing ovation for his first game back in STL as an opponent.

A bit later, Phil Kessel gets called for hooking but at least gets his money’s worth by yelling at the ref for a solid minute. Pittsburgh’s PK kills it off.

Pretty boring period, shots 10-7 Blues, scoring chances 9-4 Blues according to Natural Stat Trick. But High Danger chances were 2-1 Penguins and even that feels a little generous.

2nd period

St. Louis strikes first on the scoreboard just after 3 minutes into the 2nd period. Kris Letang pinches but the puck gets by him to create a 2-on-1 for STL. Brian Dumoulin elects to leave his feet to defend it and he deflects the bouncing puck twice on a sequence that sees it eventually end up for Kyle Brodziak to swipe into the net from right in front. 1-0 STL

The lead doesn’t last long with Sidney Crosby scoring to pull the Pens even just 0:21 later. Nice job by Crosby to step out of the corner and find a way to sneak that puck past Jake Allen. (Oh, and it’s goal #400 for Sid).

Matt Murray makes a big save on Alex Pietrangelo though the Pens are lucky the puck was bouncing and the STL dman couldn’t lift it too much.

Crosby gets slashed on the hands by Jay Bouwmeester, Pens to a second power play of the day but again it’s pretty flat.

Period ends with shots 9-6 STL in the second frame (and 19-13 overall). Even though shots were lower, some end-to-end action and better scoring chances for both teams in the 2nd period.

3rd period

In the early part of the period, Dumoulin panics a puck up the ice and it’s intercepted by Pietrangelo. He fires it to the net and it deflects off the stick of Paul Stastny and into the net. The Pens immediately object for Stastny’s stick being above the crossbar, which the refs agreed on. No goal. 1-1 still.

But not for long, Bryan Rust makes a dandy of a play to knock a centering pass from Vince Dunn out of mid air. Turns into a breakaway and Rust goes 5-hole on Allen to give the Pens their first lead of the night . err day 2-1 at just 1:05 into the 3rd.

Reaves gives his old team a gift when he takes a penalty in the offensive zone. The Pens PK does well with Murray making a couple nice saves and Rust causing havoc and helping keep the puck out of the zone.

Pietrangelo makes a mistake behind the net because of the forechecking aggressiveness of Dominik Simon, who picks the pocket of one of the best defensemen in the league and gets the puck to Riley Sheahan right in front of the net. Sheahan has a wide open net once he dekes to his forehand and tosses the puck in. 3-1 Pens.

Sequences repeat as time ticks down, Murray makes a couple of nice saves, Pietrangelo makes a mistake and Sheahan nearly scores again if not for Allen sticking with his forehand deke this time.

At 2:58 left the Blues get aggressive and pull their goalie for an o-zone faceoff (hey, why not, they’re down 2 goals)...But it backfires when Crosby wins the d-zone faceoff and Simon gets the puck in the NZ and eventually finds Crosby for an empty netter for #401 in his career to seal the deal at 4-1.

Some thoughts

  • Another game without the injured Patric Hornqvist, another goal-less outing for the league’s best power play. They visibly look to miss him in his typical spot, the top group of the PP hasn’t struck since Hornqvist’s injury 4+ games ago. He won’t be back in the immediate future and Pittsburgh needs to figure something out there.
  • Conversely though, luckily the penalty kill remains solid, which is going to be necessary without the typical special teams advantage provided by the Pittsburgh power play.
  • It only took one period for major restructuring of lines. Conor Sheary ended up with Crosby, the Malkin line was untouched, and Jake Guentzel ended up demoted to the 4th line. All kinds of mixing and matching to find a spark, which was needed after a flat opening period, on the road and with an early day game.
  • The Blues carried the day in Corsi (48-32 at 5v5), but Natural Stat Trick had High Danger Scoring chances at 9-7 STL. Murray stopping 33/34 was a huge difference maker in this one.
  • In fact, other than Reaves, no forward played less at even strength than Guentzel. He hasn’t had a great season but has never seemed in the proverbial “doghouse” much when it has come to ice time decisions. Guentzel was essentially benched in the 3rd period, only skating one shift for 0:50.
  • Through 2 periods Crosby was 12 for 17 on faceoffs, the rest of the team was just 7 for 24.
  • Remember that story of Crosby skating with a kid last month in Canada during the Pens bye week? The guy said Sid cited wanting to improve skating out of the corner with the puck and was doing drills to sharpen up his skills. That’s...exactly how he scored this goal. Greatness is not an accident, it’s earned with hard work and all those other cliches. But it’s a perfect example of what makes Sidney Crosby, Sidney Crosby.
  • Big turning point early in the 3rd with Stastny’s goal getting disallowed, which looked to be the right call and was a fairly quick review to affirm it (by NHL standards, anyways). Then next shift Rust makes it 2-1.