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Penguins vs. Avalanche Recap: Brandon Tanev’s shorthanded OT goal pushes Pens to a win

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A thrilling game of two good teams saw the Pens come out on top.

NHL: OCT 16 Avalanche at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lineups

Jared McCann is on the bad said of a “game time decision” and can’t play, so the Penguins decideto use Juuso Riikola — as a forward in the normal 12 forward/6 defenseman alignment.

First period

Sidney Crosby and Dominik Simon are off on a 2-on-1. Crosby passes to Simon who....hits the post.

Great chance one way, puck goes back the other way for a goal, a tale as old as time. Matt Calvert gets unmarked in the zone when defenseman-turned-winger Riikola loses him, and Calvert makes the space count quickly hacking a shot past Matt Murray to make it 1-0 Avalanche.

Brandon Tanev draws a penalty, but Colorado gets the best chance of the power play, luckily Murray stands tall. Pittsburgh gets another power play and again squanders it.

Then the mood changes when Patric Hornqvist sees Nathan MacKinnon wheel around in the neutral zone and lays a beauty of an open ice hip check on him. MacKinnon smarts, absorbing contact on his thigh. But no leg was stuck out, puck was right there, just a big hit.

Ian Cole doesn’t like that and takes a run at Tanev, so make it two penalties in the first period drawn by Tanev.

Again the Pittsburgh power play doesn’t go well. Dominik Kahun has to take a desperation slashing penalty to disrupt another chance given up in front of the net to make it 4v4.

Fed up, Crosby takes life into his own hands. The captain takes a pass from Justin Schultz, clowns Erik Johnson, dekes right through Sam Girard like he’s not there and tucks a backhander past goalie Philipp Grubauer. Just another Crosby work of art. 1-1.

I mean, come on.

Shots after 20 minutes are 12-7 Pittsburgh, thanks to a lot of power play time. 5v5 shots are 7-5 Colorado.

Second period

Scary moment early when a linesman trips and falls upper back-ish first hard into the boards by the Pens bench. He’s down for a moment getting some medical attention and fortunately is able to skate off slowly. But that certainly took the air right back out of the arena and made for a few moments of dull play as everyone sort of got that out of their minds.

Grubauer makes a nice save on Tanev who was in alone and deked backhand. Then John Marino pinched down the ice and fired a bad angle shot that kinda caught Grubauer as he was drifting back laterally in his crease and to the goal-line. Earns a review from Toronto, but is inconclusive to see if it crossed the line, so the no goal stands.

Sam Lafferty takes a penalty after Kahun doesn’t really get a puck deep enough while the Pens are changing after a long shift, but the Pens kill it off.

The Sid and Jake show roars on, Crosby hits Jake Guentzel, who dips his shoulder, moves to his forehand and lifts the puck quickly to the top of the net. 2-1 Pens.

The Pens get out of the period up 2-1. Shots 9 a piece in the second period.

Third period

Early on, MacKinnon’s leg looks like it’s feeling better. Brian Dumoulin bumbles a puck in the offensive zone to lead to an odd-man rush against. Kris Letang sells out to stop Mikko Rantanen but fails to block the puck from getting across the ice to MacKinnon. With plenty of time and space, “Tha Dogg” isn’t going to make a mistake, dekeing and lifting a forehand shot over Murray. 2-2 game.

Play goes back and forth, the Crosby line generates a few more chance but no more goals so we get some free hockey.

Overtime

MacKinnon wins the opening draw from Crosby in the all important first face off and Colorado maintains puck possession for the first 50ish seconds of 3v3 OT.

Play ambles on, the Avs get control again and it looks like a summer training video with the two bulls Sid and Nate manning up on each other, battling for space and trying to drive to the net. Murray makes a big save, but Dumoulin slashes a player as the Pens are trying to win it back, sending Colorado to a 4v3 power play with 2:22 left.

The Pens actually get the better of the play despite being short handed. Teddy Blueger and Zach Aston-Reese take off on a 2-on-1 but can’t score. Later on, Tanev intercepts the puck, Sam Lafferty makes a great center ice drive to open up space, Tanev shoots, and Gabriel Landeskog can’t prevent the spinning puck from trickling over the line. 3-2 win.

Some thoughts

  • Kahun just seems so out of sorts in Pittsburgh, which is weird since he made such a seamless transition to Chicago last year as an NHL rookie. To wit, not only did Kahun miss the net when he had a lot of it looking at him with a just-rising shot, he also took a penalty after not marking up defensively. Kahun only took 6 PIMs in 82 games with Chicago. He’s up to 4 PIMs now in seven games in Pittsburgh. Just not going smoothly.
  • Riikola got highlighted on the NBC intermission for stopping to move his legs on the first goal against that allowed Calvert open space, but then they showed him skating back hard on the next play. First game of the season for him, and playing an unnatural wing postion too, not an easy thing and that was evident.
  • The Pens looked very sleepy early until Hornqvist woke the whole game up with the mammoth hit on MacKinnon in the first. Business picked up in a major way for both sides after the Swede threw that big shot across the bow.
  • Good game but a typical one from Tanev. Drew two penalties. Had no semblance of offense when in alone on goal. $3.5 million legs and then caps it off with his first goal as a Pen with the OT goal and some good luck. But he made his own luck with hard work. Well done.
  • It was “‘70s night” theme seemed like a weird omen since the Pens weren’t particularly good for most the decade.
  • Guentzel is gonna need some ice packs after this one. Blocked two shots pretty squarely that hobbled in in the game. He takes a lickin’ sometimes.
  • The Pens are basically a one line time, but what a line it is. Crosby, Guentzel, Simon and Letang combined for 16 of the team’s 33 shots on goal, scoring both the goals in regulation.
  • Guentzel played 23:45, Crosby 24:24 and Letang a game-high 26:40. There’s basically no other option, especially in an OT game, but Pittsburgh are riding their big guns for as far as they will take them. And so far that’s been enough.

A thrilling win, great team effort to comeback from an early 1-0 hole to battle back, see the game into OT, not quit when they got short-handed, and found a way to take home the two points.