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Pens/Oilers Recap: Hurtin’ Albertans. Pittsburgh downs Edmonton 5-2

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The Pens’ depth shines through in a 5-2 road win to push them to a four game winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins v Edmonton Oilers

Lineups

The Penguins get three new defense pairs from last game after the injury to Justin Schultz, but hey, at least they get six healthy defensemen with Juuso Riikola getting back into the game.

The Oilers look like this:

First period

Edmonton gets off to a better start in the first few minutes. Connor McDavid hits the outside of a post early, reminding all that he is that dude. But it’s the Pens who strike first when Chad Ruhwedel shoots from the right point that just somehow leaks through Mike Smith. Nice screen by Jared McCann and some good work by Zach Aston-Reese earlier in the shift too.

Joseph Blandisi takes a penalty to send Edmonton’s top ranked power play on the ice but Pittsburgh kills it off. Then, Marcus Pettersson makes a great subtle pass, don’t miss out on that, because then Aston-Reese tosses out some backhand sauce right to Blandisi fresh out of the box. Blandisi dekes backhand and tucks it in on Smith. Smith stopped 51 of 52 shots against the Pens in November but allows goals on two of the first five shots he sees. To the likes of Ruhwedel and Blandisi. Gotta love hockey. 2-0 Pens.

John Marino has no choice but to hook Leon Draisaitl to send Edmonton to a second power play as the period ends. Shots 10-9 overall for EDM. Goals 2-0 PIT.

Second period

Draisaitl hits the post early on the carryover of the power play but the puck stays out.

The second has long stretches between whistles and the Oilers get on the board with Zack Kassian tipping in a Darnell Nurse point shot to make it 2-1.

The Pens get it back deep into the second, Jared McCann pokes the puck around Ethan Bear and is all alone on a breakaway. He swoops in from the left, dekes backhand and flips it by Smith to extend the lead to 3-1 Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh gets their first power play of the game, but it goes awry. Evgeni Malkin gets a cross-ice pass broken up by former Penguin Josh Archibald and the Oil are off on a 2-on-1. Fellow former Penguin Riley Sheahan keeps it for himself and fires a shot by Tristan Jarry with 22 seconds left to bring that game back within one goal.

Shots in the second are 9-6 EDM and 19-16 overall. Pens still clinging to a one goal lead that feels like it should be a bit more.

Third period

After giving up the shorty the Pens still have the power play and they re-extend their two goal lead. Malkin hits a cross-ice pass this time for Kris Letang who smacks a rolling puck home for his ninth goal of the year to make it 4-2 Pittsburgh early.

With 3:36 left, Edmonton puts the puck in the net, but it’s instantly washed out. Connor McDavid goes into the crease and ties up Tristan Jarry and the refs rule that was too much. Pens keep the two goal lead and the Oilers do not elect to challenge.

Edmonton has to pull their goalie. Teddy Blueger wins a d-zone draw, Marcus Pettersson hammers the puck around from the back and Brandon Tanev catches up to it and has the empty netter to make it 5-2 and remove all doubt.

Malkin drives to the net, and Mike Smith acts like the baby he is and tries to fight him. Weird stuff.

One final thought

Great support. McDavid and Draisaitl didn’t do much tonight. Neither did Malkin and Guentzel. The Pens’ second level really stepped up. Aston-Reese had one of his best nights of the season. McCann scored a goal for the first time in 10 games. Blandisi got on the board. Jarry was very strong as always. The Pens only took two penalties and killed them both. That’s a winning road recipe. Pittsburgh sweeps Alberta with two wins and gets to a four game winning streak. And up to 7-1-0 in the month of December despite a decimated lineup. All great signs!