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Penguins/Flames Recap: Guentzel’s OT goal lifts Pittsburgh to 3-2 win

The Penguins find a way to take the win out of a home game against Calgary

Calgary Flames v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images


Kris Letang is back in the lineup, returning after a three week absence with an injury. Tristan Jarry is also in net for a rare non-back-to-back situation so far this year after a string of quality starts as the Penguins start a four game in six day rush.

First period

The Flames have given up the game’s first goal in their last 10 games so of course...They break that trend and strike first. After controlling the puck in the zone for a while, Dominik Kahun gets caught up in traffic a little and can’t pressure defenseman Rasmus Andersson. Andersson makes a nice, patient play finding the open man in Dillon Dube who is able to fire the puck past Jarry and give Calgary the rare 1-0 lead these days.

Their lead doesn’t last very long, captain Mark Giordano takes a penalty for laying on the puck and refusing to get up and the Pens’ power play goes to work. Just as it’s expiring, Kahun drives to the net and David Rittich can’t handle the rebound on the high shot, the puck pops out to the slot and Alex Galchenyuk is there to react and throw it through some bodies and into the net.

If you’ve ever wanted to see someone throw the proverbial “monkey off their back” in real time, it could be found in Galchenyuk celebrating his first goal as a Penguin....All the way on November 25th.

The official scorers declare it an even strength goal initially, then change it to a power play goal. Either way, it ended up in the net just the same and Galchenyuk will gladly take it.

Shots in the period end up 12-8 for CGY, and 5v5 Corsi attempts were 20-9 in favor of Calgary with 5v5 shots 11-5 an unusuality of late for Pittsburgh to get pushed back so far.

Second period

The Pens get out to a better start, getting the first eight shots on goal in the period...Teddy Blueger also made a nice dangle but his shot attempt hit the post.

Jared McCann didn’t hit the post though, even though he did get a lucky deflection off Andersson. McCann’s shot changes direction big time and skitters into the net. But good things happen when you shoot the puck, quote Wayne Gretzky, also quote Michael Scott. 2-1 Pens for their first lead of the night at 7:14 into the second period.

Then comes a Pens’ parade of penalties. Jack Johnson gets one for tripping a player but the Pens kill it. Only a couple minutes later, Zach Trotman takes a trip of his own and the Pens can’t kill it off when Sean Monahan gets a second chance after initially shooting wide and flips it home. 2-2 game.

The Pens get another crack at the power play late in the period when Mikael Backlund takes the game’s fourth tripping call but they don’t really come close to generating much.

Total shots in the second period are 13-10 Pittsburgh, overall 21 a piece for the game, leaving a lot to resolve in the third.

Third period

Couldn’t really think of many exciting things that happened in the third, besides Rittich giving the puck away in a bad spot (apparently a routine for him) and McCann almost takes advantage and scores.

Then with 1:18 left, hilariously Milan Lucic loses and edge and flies into the net for no real reason at all in literally the only noticeable/noteworthy thing Lucic would do all night, so um, thanks for letting us know you were in the game big guy!

Johnny Gaudreau almost scores on a Crosby-esque bad angle rising shot from near the goal-line, and it looked like he had some room but Jarry was able to make a shoulder save.


The Pens play yet another OT game, and this time have the services of Letang, whose puck handling and ability make a huge difference in how much the Pens can possess the puck in the 3v3 situation.

Calgary wins the puck back and holds the puck for a while, Letang pulls an insane 1:40 OT shift to start the extra frame in a sequence that ends with the Flames icing the puck. That leads to Bryan Rust getting a good look on a tired CGY group but he can’t score.

Backlund gets in alone on Jarry but hits crossbar

Galchenyuk gets an OT shift — pretty rare, but another perk of scoring the coach tends to play you more!

John Marino gets a clean shot on goal but can’t push it home. That leaves the way dangerous Gaudreau is in from the red line alone. Uh oh. He’s got plenty to time to put on his dekes, slow down and try motorcycle kick starts, almost looking like a shootout attempt. But it looked like he flubbed the final deke on the bad ice and couldn’t convert.

The Pens get the puck back, probably have too many men on the ice but it’s Guentzel now who snaps a puck by Rittich to earn the win for Pittsburgh in a very exciting overtime frame.

Three final thoughts

Cold streak turns to hot? It’s only a small difference between being stuck in a rut and being in a groove. Galchenyuk’s struggles have been well-documented, in part because that’s all we’ve seen of him in a Penguin jersey so far. Can he get back to a hot streak now — like when he scored 11 goals and added six assists in the last 17 games of 2015-16 with Montreal? It remains to be seen, but this is a talented player capable of compiling a lot of points. You could tell his drought was weighing on him and now that the first goal is out of the way it could fuel confidence and hopefully open up the floodgates.

Extra pay for extra work. The Pens improve their record in extra time to 4-4 on the season (up to 3-4 now in OT to go along with 1-0 in shootout). That makes for 1 out of 3 of their games going to extra time on the year (8 out of 24), which helps a lot to ring up points. And it’s pretty telling that seven of the eight games have ended in the 3v3 five minute session, there’s so much open ice and back and forth action that someone is going to score most of the time. This one worked out well, the players don’t get paid more individually but the team is definitely benefiting to play in so many “three point” games, especially against out of conference foes where it really doesn’t hurt to watch the opposition take a point.

xGF agrees. All situation expected goals were 3.28 - 2.24 in favor of the Pens, per Natural Stat Trick, mirroring the final 3-2 score. Scoring chances were 30-26 PIT (again, all situations) and high danger chances were 11-10. The Pens earned their three goals and were pretty good about not letting the 34 shots they allowed add up to a tough night for Jarry, who was steady when called upon anyways.

Great team win for the Pens to get up to 3-0-2 for Pittsburgh in the last five games and 5-2-4 in the month of November. Piling up all those points, in the absence of Crosby, portends very well for the future at the end of the season to be able to turn 0 point nights into at least 1 point or turn a 1 point night like tonight into taking away both of them.