Another game, another new lineup for the Penguins. Welcome (back) to the NHL, Adam Johnson. The good news is Patric Hornqvist (hit in knee with puck last game) is able to play in this one after all and the Pens can go with the normal 12F/6D.
Patric Hornqvist is officially in the lineup! You love to see it! pic.twitter.com/QU9z7dIF7k— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 10, 2019
And the Ducks are going with the following group:
Pittsburgh gets an early power play when Dominik Simon is slashed, but it almost couldn’t have been any quieter or less threatening.
Then five minutes into the game, in his very first shift of the game (and NHL season) poor Adam Johnson goes down in the heap in the corner after being drilled by defenseman Korbinian Holzer. Teddy Blueger takes offense to this and gets in the ever rare Latvian vs. German NHL fight.
When the dust is settled the refs ring Blueger up with the extra two minute penalty for instigating and the 10-minute misconduct that comes with it. Not like Blueger totally jumped him or is a big, bad bully — he even got the worse of the fight! But so it goes. Holzer is not assessed any penalty for the hit on Johnson.
Pittsburgh kills off the Ducks’ ensuing power play without much trouble, as is only some fitting justice from the hockey gods’. Soon after Anaheim gets a second power play when Pittsburgh is caught with too many men on the ice but the Pens also kill that off.
The Pens get a second power play at the tail end of the period and actually get some decent zone time and looks at the net. Some progress! Can’t get one by John Gibson though in the first.
Overall shots on goal for the period at 11-8 Pens. 5v5 shots are 7-5 Pens and 5v5 scoring chances are 5-4 also for the Pens.
The Pens start the period on the carryover power play but can’t convert. They go right back to the power play when Brandon Tanev does what he does best and draws yet another penalty. This time they finally cash in. Patric Hornqvist helps win back a faceoff and the Pens get the puck to Kris Letang who feathers a shot/pass for Sidney Crosby who puts the tip on it to get by Gibson, since it’s Sidney Crosby and he directs it top shelf. 1-0 on Sid’s second goal of the season.
But the lead doesn’t last long, very next shift just 30 seconds later Ondrej Kase shoots from a tight angle that somehow slips in short-side on Matt Murray to make it 1-1 just like that. Nick Ritchie’s pass from behind the net was a good one and Kase’s release and ability to get the puck on net very quickly made this play.
Here's a look at the Ritchie pass and Kase goal that tied it in a hurry. pic.twitter.com/qNSz33hoEM— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 11, 2019
Josh Manson goes back to the penalty box on a very weak call, Anaheim just cutting ruts to the sin bin early. Then the refs have no choice but to call another on them and send Pittsburgh to a 5v3 when he’s blatantly high-sticked. The 5v3 doesn’t go well though, and neither does the 5v4.
With six minutes left in the period Dominik Kahun makes a rare play blocking a shot and taking off the other way on a breakaway. He gets a good shot off but it hits the crossbar.
At just 49 seconds left in the period, Anaheim takes their fifth straight penalty, but it’s again one the refs can’t ignore or avoid when Derek Grant clears the puck over the glass in his defensive zone.
Shots for the period are 12-10 Anaheim. 5v5 shots are 12-7 Anaheim. Kinda disappointing for the Pens for all the PP time they had this period, other than the Sid goal just two other SOG.
For the second straight period, the Pens start the period on a power play, and for the second straight period they can’t do anything with it.
It falls to Crosby to make another play, skates it from the red line all the way over across the ice, into the o-zone, makes a nice move to the net and finds a pass back to Jake Guentzel who hammers it in. 2-1.
Zach Aston-Reese’s early season of discontent continues by taking a penalty late, and the guilty look plastered on his face as he sat in the box told the tale. Luckily his mates picked him up and killed it off and there was no damage done.
With about 1:55 left the Ducks pull Gibson and put a 6v5 push on, but they don’t get much going and before ya know it, Elvis has left the building.
- The Crosby line was tired when Pittsburgh got the game’s first power play so they had to go to the bench. So the vaunted Pens’ power plays with all the high-powered weapons over the past 30 years ended up opening a PP with: Jared McCann, Dominik Kahun, Zach Aston-Reese, Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson. Needless to say, they didn’t come close to scoring.
- Hornqvist didn’t get credit the form of a point on the Pens’ first goal, but his work to dig out a puck and help support off a face off is what started the play It’s the little things like that which won’t reflect in the boxcars but are such a big reason of what Hornqvist brings to the table.
- In other appreciation of subtle plays that really help— Dominik Simon did well to dispossess the puck from a Duck, bump it up to Crosby, charge hard in a straight line to the net taking a defender with him to open more space for Guentzel in the slot to score. Simon did get an assist on the play, but his work beyond just the pass is why coaches like him and why he’s a helpful piece of an offensive line.
- As any coach will tell you the key times are the first minute of a period, the final minute of a period and the shift after a goal. These are the key swing moments of games. The Pens just can’t seem to win here. Even when they score in the first minute (hello, Sid!) they get bugged by giving it right back.
- Everyone knows at this point if the Pens do anything offensively with all their injuries, it’s going to be mainly on the backs of 58, 59 and 87. They were big time tonight, scoring both the team’s goals and adding both primary assists. Add in 7 shots on goal and all playing 24+ minutes, Letang with a game-high 28:35, and that’s a big time core coming through.
- The goal Murray allowed wasn’t pleasing being as it was short-side and he could have had it sealed off, but the quick pass totally changed the angle and urgency to hold the post. Possibly shoulda/coulda had that one (which is easy to type on a keyboard) but when the goalie stops all other 30 shots he sees, that’s a good night.
- And part of the problem of allowing a consistent volume of shots against per night is that opens the door for the goalie to be juuuust off the post on plays like that and have it end up in the net.