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Penguins/St. Louis Recap: Pens follow their Blue-print, get bounce-back 3-0 win

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Nice game for the Pens, who do exactly what they need to do in order to win with a banged up roster.

NHL: DEC 04 Blues at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lineups

The Penguins and Blues clash for the second time in five days and the final time of the 2019-20 season. A different lineup for the Pens who lose the services of Jack Johnson to an illness and Stefan Noesen makes his Pittsburgh debut in place of the injured Patric Hornqvist.

First period

Just 39 seconds in, the Pens get off to a great start and on the board. Brandon Tanev makes a pass back to the point and Marcus Pettersson sends in a long, normal wrist shot that Teddy Blueger puts a heck of a deflection on that Jordan Binnington has no chance on. 1-0 PIT.

Jake Guentzel takes a hooking call but the reeling Pens’ penalty kill does the job.

The rest of the period is pretty smooth, and a nice job by Pittsburgh, up 15-10 overall in shots. Chad Ruhwedel, in particular, was strong early after being very under-impressive recently.

Second period

The Blues regroup and come out a lot better in the second, as to be expected from the defending Cup champions. St. Louis takes 10 of the first 12 shots of the period, aided in part by Joseph Blandisi taking a penalty. Tristan Jarry makes one great save with his glove, tracks the puck and knocks it away with his stick.

As the game gets towards it’s midpoint, Tyler Bozak goes to the box to give Pittsburgh their first power play of the game. It looks pretty brutal and doesn’t get much going, the only gasp of life is Evgeni Malkin hitting Dominik Kahun with a nice pass when the latter changed and jumped on the ice behind the defense, but he got angled off and could only muster a weak backhander from distance.

The Pens got a second crack at the power play when Brandon Tanev did what he does best and use his legs to draw a call. They get a little more zone time and a decent chance when a Malkin shots kicks loose as a rebound but still don’t score.

At even strength a Malkin pass gets to Dominik Simon with a glorious look at the net, he shoots and raises his hands thinking he scored but the defender and not the goalie was the one to stop the puck.

Malkin then takes a “hooking” penalty, which frankly was just a bad call. Malkin did take a stick-check hack at a STL player, but didn’t hook him. If anything it was a weak slash, but that’s just competing and playing hockey. Nevertheless, he sits for two minutes, but the PK holds and the Pens push offensively with a fun Malkin-Simon-Jake Guentzel-Kris Letang-John Marino group that culminates with Marino hitting the post pretty squarely with a shot attempt.

But despite Malkin flashing late in the period in several areas, it would be the recent call-up Noesen who extended the lead to two goals late in the period. Noesen gets to the Jared McCann shot/rebound before Binnington can and flips it home quickly.

Shots are 26-24 Pens at the end of two periods.

Third period

The Blues start the period on the carryover of a Chad Ruhwedel penalty but the Pens’ PK is again up to the task.

Sam Lafferty makes a great play to get the puck up for Alex Galchenyuk who is in all alone and he makes it pay off! Nice goal by Galchenyuk to extend the lead to 3-0.

The Pens get their third power play when Joseph Blandisi basically jumps into the boards to buy a call. Yikes. Fittingly, Pittsburgh’s PP can do nothing close to scoring.

Simon gets a few more glorious chances, but Binnington betters him.

The Blues finally put a puck in the net, but the refs immediately call it off for a net-front collision between Jarry and Jaden Schwartz, after some contact with Zach Trotman. STL chooses to challenge and the refs rule they lose, no goal, and they get a minor penalty to add insult to injury.

That pretty much does it for this one as Jarry secures his first shutout of the season, stopping all 28 shots he sees on the night. Great night for the Pens defense too, who only give up 4 SOG in the third period (and maybe STL was just looking to tuck tail and get out of town by that point). Either way, two points in the standings for Pittsburgh.

Three final thoughts

First minute...last minute. Any coach will always harp on the importance and great effects that a goal scored in the first minute of the period and the last minute of a period are. The Pens did both, getting a goal 0:39 into the game, then extending the lead to 2-0 with :40 left in the second period. Old coaching cliches can have some value!

A nice Blue-print to win. Down all these players to injury, the Pens followed a nice blueprint to win. Jarry was very good, giving the goaltending they needed. Defensively they were good too, even in a pinch personnel-wise. Offensively Malkin was terrific, and they got a goal on a deflection, and something from a new guy (Noesen) and a contribution, finally, from Galchenyuk. Add in a perfect PK and this is what they need! Next game, perhaps that rotates to Simon getting off the schnide, Aston-Reese chipping in and Marino was generating a lot too.

No, Noe, Never. As we noted on twitter, it was a nice feel good moment for Noesen, who had to imagine a few weeks or months ago that his NHL opportunities were looking like a thing of the past.

Good for him to not give up. And with a ton of injuries still around, who knows. If Noesen plays better than Blandisi/Lafferty types he could see himself being a 13 type forward moving forward, and we’ve all seen the injury situation this year.

Great job for a few days of rest to get it together and regroup and get a win at home against a quality team. Just what the doctor ordered as the Pens kick off a three-game-in-four-day blitz here. It’s Kessel and the Coyotes on Friday.