The Penguins get Erik Gudbranson back in the lineup so he doesn’t get too rusty, healthy scratching Jack Johnson thankfully enough to go with the ever-rare 2 left-handed / 4 right-handed defensive split.
Erik Gudbranson will make his return to the lineup tonight ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/xNXjMxgXRT— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 13, 2019
And the Jets are going with the following lineup:
The Pens get unlucky to start the game just 1:47 into the contest when Mathieu Perreault tries to center a puck from the wall and Jared McCann attempts to knock it off course, but instead ends up tipping it into his own net to put Winnipeg on the board early.
But Pittsburgh is able to get it back after some hard work and driving to the net. Brandon Tanev and Teddy Blueger get shots, and Zach Aston-Reese parked in front eventually finds the puck on his backhand at an awkward almost backwards stance, but he has an empty net to flip it into just the same to tie the game at 1.
Go to the net and good things happen pic.twitter.com/fFcRm8pUkc— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 13, 2019
That’s about it for activity in the first period, but when you’re on the road, playing a third game in four days with a team that has a lot of injuries it’s not the worst thing in the world. Shots 9-9 after one.
The Pens get it going in the second. Brian Dumoulin draws a penalty in his defensive zone, and Pittsburgh gets a lot of rotation on the power play with Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang and Justin Schultz all sliding from left to right and back again with fluidity. The defensemen change, but the forwards are so thin they stay out for 1:45 of the power play. It pays off with Dumoulin tipping a pass down to the crease that Guentzel can pounce on. 2-1 Pittsburgh.
Just 41 seconds later the fourth line strikes, Letang head mans the puck up the ice, Joseph Blandisi races it down and shoots off the rush. It goes wide unfortunately, but that actually turns out great because of a bounce off the backboard kicks right out to Sam Lafferty. Lafferty can jam it in the net before Laurent Brossoit can get to that far post to make it 3-1.
The Jets get it back pretty quickly, Gudbranson goes to the box and Mark Scheifele cashes in on a bit of a broken play that ends up with the puck on his stick and then quickly into the net past a helpless Tristan Jarry to make it a 3-2 score.
After the teams trade unsuccessful power plays, it’s none other than Dominik Simon to continue the cavalcade of goals in the period. Crosby makes a great play with his skate to kick the puck out, but he gets knocked over. Simon though is in a nice play supporting and quickly hacks it in to extend the lead to 4-2.
Simon on Crosby: "It was a great pass from him. The D tied up his stick, so he found a way to get in there and I had a tap-in." pic.twitter.com/rlSWcoY3MN— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 14, 2019
Shots in the action-packed second period end up 10 a piece.
Blake Wheeler gets in alone on Jarry, with Letang crashing back on them both defensively, Wheeler pushes a shot off the post.
John Marino takes a penalty but the Pens kill it off.
Then Lafferty throws a puck to the net, it takes a fortunate bounce off a Jets’ player’s skate and goes in. Good things happen when you shoot, and right now Sam Lafferty is living well with his third goal of the weekend (and second of the night)! 5-2 Pittsburgh.
It’s a full on laugher now, Crosby wins an offensive zone draw back to Letang who sauces a great pass diagonally to Guentzel. Guentzel expertly lifts the rolling puck over Brossoit to make it 6-2 with about 8 minutes left.
Jake Guentzel knows a thing or two about scoring goals! pic.twitter.com/B9XT5dJESR— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 14, 2019
Adam Johnson takes a slashing penalty, but that can’t even keep the Pens from scoring. Josh Morrissey bobbles the puck and Aston-Reese takes off with it, smoking Brossoit on a breakaway shot for a short handed goal. 7-2
Aston-Reese just launched this wrist shot through the goalie and into the back of the net. pic.twitter.com/ZgdlkdDEwB— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 14, 2019
Pittsburgh goes down to a 3v5 situation after a bad change. Lafferty gets a shot for his hat trick with a short handed breakaway once Johnson gets out of the box but can’t score on the backhand deke.
And that’ll do it for this one. Big win for the Pens to move to 4-2-0 on the season.
- The Pens have played six games this season, and Crosby and Letang have at least a point in all six of ‘em. Great so see, have to get production out of the top guys with so many important players injured for now the majority of the games. Guentzel too really, even if he hasn’t scored in every single game, he’s still been a threat just about every period to make something happen.
- Letang’s first assist marked career point 500, which he got to among the quickest of any NHL defenseman.
- Lafferty flashing his wheels, he’s defensively responsible to be trusted to penalty kill, all good signs. These injuries opened up a door for him and he’s skated right through it. There’s a long way before the team becomes completely healthy, so no need to get ahead of ourselves with any proclamations, but right now he looks like he belongs in the NHL.
- Gudbranson on the left side was awkward and weird, but it’s not like he can move the puck or even reliably always cleanly receive passes on the right side, so what’s the difference? Good to see the team willing to healthy scratch Jack Johnson and be better off for it.
- A couple of the goals Brossoit gave up, woof. Not great, but hey, we’ll take it.
- Interesting to see a couple if not “whipping boys” than at least targets of consternation in Aston-Reese and Simon find the back of the net too for the first time this season. Pens need guys like that to step up and produce at the moment.
- Always great in a big night to get a lot of players involved, 12 different players recorded a point on the night, with six having multi-point games
- Great road trip for the Pens to pick up two wins, and lighting up the scoreboard for 14 total goals over the two games. Given all the skill and salary that’s sitting on the sidelines and didn’t even make the trip that’s impressive to see.
Pittsburgh gets to go back home now, but the level of competition goes up a notch next week with Colorado, Dallas and Vegas coming to town.