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Penguins vs. Maple Leafs Recap: Ain’t no fun (if the refs can’t have none). Pens lose

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The Penguins fall behind early and can’t overcome a tough call from the officials and fall 4-2 in Toronto.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

The Penguins welcome back Carter Rowney from the land of healthy scratch and Josh Jooris for his Pittsburgh debut. Both subbing in for injured players in Dominik Simon and Bryan Rust. Tristan Jarry gets the nod in net looking for his (and the team’s) 4th straight win.

1st period

The Penguins get off to a great early start jumping out to a 6-0 shot on goal edge early. And then to make matters better Leo Komarov takes an offensive zone hooking penalty to send Pittsburgh to the power play. But the Maple Leafs PK holds tough early and there’s no score here.

And it’s Toronto who strikes first later at even. The Pens can’t clear the defensive zone and Josh Leivo and Tyler Bozak both make a couple of nice passes and all of a sudden Kasperi Kapanen is posted up with a wide open net and a puck coming to his stick. He’s wide open in part because Brian Dumoulin drifts way far away from the net. 1-0 TOR.

Sidney Crosby leads a 2-on-1 but his pass attempt is broken up by Ron Hainsey. Later Toronto sets up a similar play as their first goal but Olli Maatta deflects the final centering pass away. Toronto then takes another minor penalty but again their PK is good, and more worryingly the Pens power play isn’t looking strong.

Last minute goals are killer and Pittsburgh concedes one to go down 2-0. Nazem Kadri outraces Chad Ruhwedel to beat an icing and then Ruhwedel abandons position to go cover up high for some reason. So Kadri is all alone to deflect in a point-shot for his 25th goal of the season to give Toronto a 2-0 lead late in the first.

Shots are 11-8 Penguins overall, but considering Pittsburgh got off to a great start AND had a 2-0 PP edge, the fact they’re down 2-0 after 20 is tough to swallow.

2nd period

Much like the first period the Penguins get an early power play. Unfortunately much like the first period the Penguins can’t score. Much like the first period shots early are 5-0 PIT again.

Now since PP’s are 4-0 we reach the point of the game where multiple Toronto players like Kadri and James van Riemsdyk start yelling at the ref any time touched by a white jersey. They get a call with Jamie Oleksiak breaking his stick then grabbing onto a TML player. Kadri strikes again for his 2nd goal of the game when Jarry kicks out a big rebound right to him early in the power play. 3-0.

Evgeni Malkin gets frustrated and spars with Roman Polak and both go to the box. Usually a bad trade, you would think, compounded with Justin Schultz turning the puck over behind the net for a Travis Dermott shot from the slot which Jarry makes a nice save on.

Then Brian Dumoulin (of all people) makes a power move to the net and Hainsey throws a left hand in Dumo’s back as he skates by him. Dumoulin’s hip hits Frederik Andersen as he passes and the puck goes in the net....

But it’s ruled no goal. AND Dumoulin is sent to the penalty box for goalie interference.

Quickly on the ensuing power play Mitch Marner scores to make it 4-0. Coulda been 3-1 Pens and a chance at a comeback but now, woof.

Shots 12-9 Pens in the 2nd period (and 23-16 overall) but that’s a small consolation with the lopsided 4-0 score.

3rd period

Casey DeSmith jumps in the net replacing Jarry for the start of the 3rd period.

Not much going on. Jooris actually flashes a bit of impressive ability lugging the puck from the d-zone and through the coverage to get a shot away but Andersen makes another save.

Finally the Pens score, Crosby throws a backhand on net, it hits off Hainsey and goes in the net with 3:36 left. And this time the refs don’t bail Hainsey out. 4-1 TOR but only 3:36 left.

Pittsburgh pulls the goalie and goes 6v5 with the big guns and it pays off. Malkin throws a shot to the net and Patric Hornqvist puts a masterful tip on it and in the net. 4-2.

But luck runs out as it always does in such a big hole and Patrick Marleau scores on the empty net to make it 5-2.

Some thoughts

  • Tough start for the Pens. Interesting how Dumoulin and Ruhwedel both abandon traditional position and leave the front of the net open. Part the concept of man coverage but defenders have to be cognizant to mind the front of the net. Burned the Pens twice in the first period.
  • No clue how Mike Sullivan remained composed after the Dumoulin goal is ruled a no goal AND a penalty which quickly turned into a Toronto PPG. Sometimes the calls go your way, sometimes not but that’s a tough one. Even worse is the fact that Dumoulin didn’t actually strike the goalie except for the back pressure of Hainsey clearly taking a hand off his stick to push Dumoulin into his goalie. Shit happens and it’s tough to make a call in real time when you only have one crack at it, but as the theme of the season the on-ice refs just can’t seem to make a correct ruling for situations involving questionable plays and goalie interference.
  • Andersen was really good early though, gotta give him a lot of credit. As we pointed out earlier in the day here on Pensburgh Andersen has probably been over-worked facing the most shots against of all NHL goalies so far this season, and he’s seemed worn down as of late giving up 3+ goals in 11 of his last 13 starts. But he was very sharp tonight early and held the Pens off the board making a few good saves and that really made a difference.
  • Even though the Pens had 23 SOG after 2 periods, 7 of the 18 skaters had 0 shots. Two more players (key ones at that in Conor Sheary and Sidney Crosby) only had 1 SOG a piece. That’s generally not good enough.
  • Then again, the list of Pittsburgh players who actually looked good and had a good night is....Well not really many, if any.
  • We mentioned Jarry’s rebound control before in the last game recap and it didn’t look good again tonight. Burned him on the 3rd goal against and wasn’t the sharp in other instances too. This is the first game in a while that Jarry’s overall performance wasn’t good, and with a back-to-back tomorrow it makes sense to give Casey DeSmith a game regardless but it seems like it’s time.

So now here we go. A back-to-back situation with a home game tomorrow against a rested Dallas team. Not ideal considering WSH and PHI both won their respective games today. The Pens have to turn the page and do so quickly.