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Pens/Devils Recap: Sloppy Pittsburgh blown out by another last place team

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The Pens still acting like they’re on their bye week, and they’re no longer on the bye week losing 6-3 to New Jersey

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

Lineups

Now that Jamie Oleksiak is gone via trade, the lineup decision was pretty easy for the Penguins. Some new look lines though with Bryan Rust shifting to the left wing and to join the super powers of Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

First period

Pittsburgh comes out fairly flat, but the Devils had the same bye week and break so there’s no excuse to be had. The Pens do little with an early power play, and then Matt Cullen does a great job screening the goalie for the first goal of the game.

Unfortunately for Cullen and the Pens, that goalie was Matt Murray who didn’t have a look at the well-placed wrist shot from Travis Zajac.

Pittsburgh then got a second power play after a bad change from New Jersey left two too many men on the ice. It looked a bit better but didn’t score. This too proved unfortunate because soon after very soft defense showed a horrible gap by Juuso Riikola who allowed plenty of time and space for Damon Severson to rip a shot past the glove of Murray and off the post and in the net. Weak goal for Murray to concede to make the score 2-0.

Shots for the period ends 12-10 in favor of NJD.

Second period

The Pens get another power play, that’s great right?

Wrong. Evgeni Malkin turns the puck over, Phil Kessel could have skated back a bit better, Kris Letang saw a really nice one-handed pass by Pavel Zacha fly by him and Murray had little hope when (who else) but Brian Boyle from in close to make it 3-0 with Pittsburgh surrendering yet another short handed goal against.

The Pens are at least able to salvage it when the second power play group scores (albeit two seconds after the penalty expired) with Derick Brassard taking a nice cross-ice pass from Marcus Pettersson and waiting for his lane to open to shoot in past Keith Kinkaid. 3-1

The Devils finally get their first power play of the game but Pittsburgh kills it off without many worries. The Pens get a fourth power play and get a lot of offensive zone time but don’t generate much.

A weird bounce off the skate of Brian Dumoulin has the puck spin out to Blake Coleman on the rush. With the angle changed on Murray he’s caught too deep in the crease and the quick shot of Coleman finds net to make it 4-1.

Shots on goal in the period are 13-12 NJ, and 25-22 in favor of Jersey overall.

Third period

A fifth power play chance in the game for the Pens early in the period. As too common they do nothing.

Game trickles on, Derick Brassard earns a five minute major when he drills Sami Vatanen from behind and opens up a big time cut around the eye of the NJ defenseman. 5 minute major for elbowing is called, and a major was deserved even though it’s more of a board than an elbow.

The Devils cash in about half-way through the long power play with Kyle Palmieri taking a cross-ice pass and scoring to make it 5-1.

Matt Cullen hasn’t quit though, and after Kinkaid misplays the puck, Cullen scores a short handed goal of his own to get a little pride back at 5-2.

NJ takes it right back though tacking on another goal when Dumoulin’s soft clearing effort ends up being a pass directly to a Devil that pretty much makes for an easy Zacha goal. 6-2.

Bryan Rust scores on the backhand late to make it 6-3 for a garbage time goal that doesn’t do too much.

Some Thoughts

  • A bad game after a break, which is quite surprising since the Pens were 9-0-0 coming into this game under coach Mike Sullivan after a lengthy Christmas/bye week/All Star break. That’s gone after this one, the team didn’t look prepped or interested in playing.
  • Can pretty much go up and down the lineup, to a man every player was pretty much playing disinterested to invisible at best to sloppy and poor at key moments that resulted in goals against.
  • Nice game from Garrett Wilson with 7 credited hits and 4 shots on goal, nearly scoring on one. He brought some energy and did OK but when Garrett Wilson is the most visible guy for positive reasons, it’s not great.
  • Jack Johnson left the game in the third period with an apparent injury but there wasn’t much of an update at the time of this writing.
  • And the Pens drop to 1-7-1 against last place teams this season (1-8-1 if you throw in the Flyers who are close enough). That means they’re 25-9-5 against everyone else. Good thing, since Wednesday night the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning come to town.