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Rangers vs. Penguins Recap: Pittsburgh falls in OT after another comeback falls short

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The Pens keep fighting but can’t pull off the win, dropping a 3-2 OT game to the New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Lineups

The Penguins prepare for life without Sidney Crosby (...and Kris Letang...and Patric Hornqvist) with still some pretty decent lines on paper.

First period

Since all the talk pre-game was how good the Pens were on shot differential and how badly the Rangers have been shelled, naturally before the first commercial break shots were 8-1 NYR, scoring chances 4-1 (including Matt Murray having to make a great stop on the ever-dangerous Artemi Panarin) and it was Pittsburgh the team having to ice the puck multiple times and were back on their heels.

One of those eight shots was a goal by Kaapo Kakko getting behind the Pens’ defense and getting a great pass from Brendan Lemieux. Sprung clean on a breakaway, Kakko had all day to deke a few times, pull it backhand past Murray’s leg and tuck the puck in. 1-0 NYR.

The Pens get a power play but they don’t even come remotely close to breaking the team’s long PP drought ever. Towards the end of the period they get a second crack at it with the game’s second PP. They (and specifically Alex Galchenyuk) get a few pucks on net at least, but from pretty far away from the net, and again have no elusive PP goal.

After the Pens’ power play expires, they go down 2-0 with just nine seconds in the period. Adam Fox steps into ice opened up when the fourth line collapses low and rips a shot by Murray.

Shots overall at 5v5 are 11-8 NYR, at 5v5 shots are 10-6 NYR, 5v5 scoring chances are 12-5 NYR, high danger chances are 4-0. Another slow start for the Pens.

Second period

As to be expected, the Pens regroup at intermission and play better right from the jump. They get one goal back 1:13 into it, Evgeni Malkin hits Justin Schultz with a nice cross-ice pass, Schultz has plenty of time and space himself and fires a shot on Alexandar Georgiev to make the game 2-1.

Pittsburgh gets the game’s third power play (and their third) when Fox has to take out Bryan Rust while driving to the net...And whaddya know, cue the Zambelli fireworks we have a power play goal for the first time in almost a month. It’s known other than Jared McCann after some nice work by Dominik Kahun in front of the net (and a fortunate whiff by Dominik Simon). 2-2 tie game.

The second is about the inverse of the first in SOG, 11-7 PIT in the second overall. 5v5 scoring chances in the second are 8-5 PIT and the score for the game, most importantly, would be tied at 3.

Third period

New look lines (more below) to start the period, the Pens put some pressure on but Nick Bjugstad takes an o-zone tripping call to give the Rangers their first power play of the game. Pittsburgh’s stout PK takes care of business.

The game opens up quite a bit with about six minutes later, Lafferty hits a post. Murray makes a big save on Pavel Buchnevich and a Ranger has a clear look at the net but Marcus Pettersson makes a goalie-style save from an otherwise empty net.

Brian Dumoulin trips a player at the Rangers get a second power play with just four minutes left in regulation. NYR gets about 1:30 in zone time and make about a million passes (loose count) either from or to Panarin before John Marino can finally clear the puck and the Pens get another clutch kill.

Overtime

For the third straight Pens game, you get free hockey in the form of an OT. The Pens keep control of the puck for the longest time, but make a mistake and allow the Rangers to change. Malkin roars through the zone, splits the defense himself but can’t score. The puck goes the other way and Kakko scores his second goal of the game as a game winner.

Three final thoughts

Typical 2019-20 Pens. If these Pens are growing an identity beyond the mountain of injuries, it’s playing poorly out the gates and falling behind in the first period. Then roaring back with a strong second period. That was on full display in this one. Now, only to work on starting the game on the right foot.

Galchenyuk-McCann- Guentzel didn’t work. Hey, not every combination can be winners. The Pens first idea to replace Crosby (by just placing McCann where Sid was) didn’t go smoothly.

And split it up they did, for the start of the third period Guentzel was on a line with Nick Bjugstad and Dominik Kahun. And Galchenyuk-McCann were playing with Sam Lafferty.

Special teams earn a point. The Pens would have liked to have had more, but they can thank their special teams for at least getting something out the game tonight. A second period PP goal (first one since October 12th) tied the game. A late kill in the third (with important PKer Dumoulin in the box, no less) pretty much ensured the point. Now that a power play has at least scored, the bigger focus really should be not falling in 2-0 and 3-0 holes almost every game so that they don’t have to have almost no margin of error for the rest of the game.