A new game, a new lineup for the Penguins. Chad Ruhwedel finally makes his 2019-20 season debut after being a healthy scratch every single game to this point. Zach Trotman also makes his NHL debut after being recalled from the minors. Justin Schultz (injury) and Juuso Riikola (healthy) are out as a result. In happier news, Patric Hornqvist is back after missing seven games, Joseph Blandisi is a scratch.
Ready. pic.twitter.com/f0YIBiYNnf— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 21, 2019
The game gets off to a great start, Evgeni Malkin scores 1:04 in after a great pass by Jake Guentzel.
Shooting. Falling. GOAL SCORING! pic.twitter.com/xQhYieFSgx— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 22, 2019
Scary moment a bit later, Trotman shoots from the point just as Guentzel gets cross-checked and falls right into the shot that appears to strike his upper shoulder/neck area. He leaves the game after being shaken up.
OUCH.#Pens Jake Guentzel gets cross-checked down and takes a slapper from Zach Trotman to what looks like the head/neck area. pic.twitter.com/ruTFUD7kKK— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) November 22, 2019
Pittsburgh gets a power play but does nothing with it, same with the Islanders who get two cracks at the Pens’ red hot penalty kill with no goals.
But then coming out of a commercial break, NYI strikes suddenly. They win a faceoff clean and get a lot of traffic at the net. Defenseman Scott Mayfield shoots from the point that clicks off the stick of Zach Aston-Reese and Matt Murray has no chance to see the puck, which flies right inside of the post. 1-1.
Mayfield with that NASTY curve ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/LS2mtUO9IA— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 22, 2019
Shots in the first were 8 for the Pens and 5 for the Isles.
The Pens start the period hot yet again, puck hops over Ryan Pulock’s stick and Bryan Rust is on the go for a chance on the rush. Adam Pelech doesn’t pick up on Pulock’s request to switch assignments quick enough and Rust snaps a hard shot glove side past Thomas Greiss before Pelech can defend him. 2-1 Pens, 1:09 into the second.
In three games vs. the Islanders this season, @rustyyy_92 has FOUR goals, including his OT game-winner in Brooklyn on November 7. pic.twitter.com/jyzdHVrZM5— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 22, 2019
Guentzel is back for the start of the second period and takes a rough penalty. Then gets another two minutes added for mouthing off to the ref. The Islanders score on the second end of that extra call with Anthony Beauvillier collects the puck after another crazy bounce on a blocked shot kicks right over to him and fires past Murray to make it 2-2.
YEEHAWWW @titobeauvi21 pic.twitter.com/WdiOuWF2yf— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 22, 2019
Malkin takes an offensive zone penalty (which calls are now 5-1 NYI) and there’s another Islanders power play late in the period. The Pens kill most of it off then Anders Lee trips John Marino and the Pens finally get a second crack at the power play. It is unsuccessful.
Shots in the second are 10-9 Pens.
The rare “delay of game” penalty when Sam Lafferty and then Teddy Blueger are kicked out of the same faceoff but NYI gives the power play up when Brock Nelson interferes with Brian Dumoulin just 20 seconds in.
The bad penalties keep coming, Sam Lafferty trips an opponent 160 feet away from his own net for literally no reason with 4:56 left, and the Isles score off the faceoff. 3-2 NYI with 4:52 left in the game. Terrible, lazy, bad move by Lafferty.
Brock Nelson with a bullet to give the Isles the lead. Hell of a moment in game #500 pic.twitter.com/RrDAjx4FAW— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) November 22, 2019
Murray stops Nelson on a breakaway to keep the game alive then later all hell breaks loose. Anders Lee dumps Brandon Tanev into the boards awkwardly, causing a commotion. Zach Aston-Reese tries to fight Lee, which doesn’t go well at all for ZAR (he should really just avoid all fighting situations), Jared McCann gets jumped...But then the refs only call Aston-Reese and Lee for roughing, even though both dropped gloves and Lee fired off about 10 punches. Weird.
All hell continues to break loose. Pittsburgh pulls Murray, Malkin throws a puck to the net, which naturally means Patric Hornqvist is there. Hornqvist jams at the puck (and a bit of Greiss) and somehow it goes in the net with just 29.9 seconds left. Being under a minute the refs review it automatically and the goal stands. 3-3 game.
Patric Hornqvist and the case of the net-front raucous. pic.twitter.com/KZxRQQOLm8— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 22, 2019
Another typical sight: OT in a Pens game. All three Pens/Isles matchups have gone to extra time. And for the second time in two games, Nelson ends the game in OT, this time in the last minute. An errant Rust shot flies high and springs the Isles on a 2-on-1. Nelson uses speed to walk around Marcus Pettersson then tuck a backhand past Murray, who dropped expecting an earlier shot. 4-3 goes the game to NYI.
Three final thoughts
Fast starts. The Malkin line scored goals early on in the first and second periods, really setting the tone there. For a banged up team lacking so many skilled players right now, that line has to be good and generating 2 even strength goals is exactly what is called for. It’s been a running trend that the Pens have started games and periods too slow for the most of this season, so it was very refreshing see them change the course of the game in their favor by
Lack of discipline. A couple of unacceptable plays by the top line too. Guentzel was too mouthy with the refs (which can be a subjective bar that moves) and put the team in a 4-minute hole instead of 2 minutes. That directly led to a goal against. Malkin took an offensive zone slashing penalty — after he’s been SO good at avoiding the avoidable penalties. Teddy Blueger has a faceoff violation after Sam Lafferty had already been kicked out of a faceoff for a delay of game. Lafferty then just being lazy tripping a guy from behind needlessly with under 5 minute left in a Just more instances of decreasing already small margin of errors that Pittsburgh has to deal with right now.
0-0-2 as good as one win in the standings. The Pens probably feel unsatisfied dropping two OT games in a row to the Isles, but thanks to the loser point, that’s as good as winning one game and losing another in regulation. Which really just means the team is two games closer to getting Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Nick Bjugstad back.
The Pens will move on and move on quickly, they have to jet back to Pittsburgh tonight and prep for a game against the Devils tomorrow night.