What a whirlwind for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann. They start the day in Nashville, on the road with the Florida Panthers getting ready for a game against the Preds. Instead in the morning they get traded, have to get their stuff together and get to Pittsburgh ASAP. They didn’t arrive for warmups but were able to start the game on time. But not by getting to get used to their new team or teammates at all. What a league!
Evgeni Malkin (upper body) is out for at least the weekend, making the Penguins quite thin up front.
To get in and changed and dressed and laced up in 10 minutes is impressive. It’ll remind many of running late for a youth league or non-pro league game or something and you gotta rush in and get ready real quick before the refs give you a delay of game for being so late. That couldn’t have just been us, right? (Shoutout Longwood Lancers club team, bad boys of the NCRHA).
6:29PM: Warmups begin— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 2, 2019
6:55PM: Bjugstad and McCann arrive
7:05PM: Bjugstad and McCann get on the Penguins bench at the start of the national anthem
7:08PM: Game on pic.twitter.com/Hm2L3QSUgF
Also fun fact- in college me and my good friend would almost always be running late for games. Whenever concerned teammates/parents texted us for updates where were we, the go to response would be to say “by the elementary school” which was like 5 minutes from the rink. Even when we had just left and were like 30 minutes away. It became a long running infamous joke. Everyone has a story like that, fun times when the best league in the world can sometimes revert to just a bunch of hockey players hurrying to make it to the rink on time.
Teddy Blueger gets his first career NHL goal just 3:19 into the game, getting to step into a one-t slapper and firing the puck perfectly top-shelf on Anders Nilsson of the Senators to open the scoring.
Do first goals get any better than this? pic.twitter.com/cEhxMQYb2e— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 2, 2019
Pittsburgh gets an early power play - and doesn’t even concede a short handed goal against! (They don’t score either, for the record).
A bit later, Matt Duchene blows by Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin following a NZ faceoff, but Casey DeSmith comes up big on a breakaway stop. Luckily Duchene didn’t really deke for some reason.
Crosby makes up for it a few shifts later by putting Duchene on his hip, getting some space and making a backhand pass for Jake Guentzel to quickly put in the net. As Guentzel reacts by shrugging in the end of the GIF, “nice pass”. Not much more you can add, 2-0 Pittsburgh.
Guentzel has seven goals in his last eight games.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 2, 2019
...and Sid is really good at hockey. pic.twitter.com/C0KB3RJ0LF
Late in the first, Garrett Wilson lights a Senator defender up on the forecheck with a clean hit but Mark Borowiecki takes offense and they drop the gloves for a quick, spirited fight that doesn’t really go Wilson’s way. Borowiecki is a tough customer.
Shots after one are 11-10 Pittsburgh.
The Pens get a second power play when Zack Smith elbows a guy and again don’t give up a SH goal against!
DeSmith later makes a save off the rush with his head on a high and is able to hold on and not give up a rebound.
The Pens get a 3-0 lead when Phil Kessel passes to Bryan Rust to pick a spot high glove side on Nilsson and fires it home.
Bjugstad gets his first point as a member of the Penguins.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 2, 2019
Kessel makes a perfect pass.
Rust buries it for a three game point streak (2G-1A). pic.twitter.com/8azLe8swWB
New guy McCann goes to the box and Ottawa cashes in on the power play, really nice play by Duchene to hold the puck in the blueline and Bobby Ryan is able to finish off the play. 3-1.
Shots in the second are 19-15 Pens and 30-25 overall.
Bryan Rust nets his second of the night to make it 4-1.
But the comeback starts. The other new guy Bjugstad goes to the box and Jack Johnson gets taken apart by Mark Stone behind the net and Stone passes to Mikkel Boedker for the PPG to make it 4-2.
Then Duchene puts rockets on his skates through the NZ and blows right by Johnson and beats DeSmith. It’s 4-3 with still 4:52 left in the game.
But fear not, Sid and Jake salt the game away. Crosby with a perfect backhand pass again past the defender, Guentzel snaps his 26th goal of the season home that hits the goalie and still goes in the net. When you’re livin’ right, you’re livin’ right. 5-3 Pens.
Sens pull their goalie but nothing more happens. 5-3 win!
- Today was sort of “all hands on deck” with the Malkin injury and the big trade, but the whole “Blueger has only played center so we need to use him there” line lasted exactly one game. But possibly for the best, as he scored a goal setup by center Matt Cullen. Pretty cool the oldest guy in the league gets an assist for a younger player’s first career NHL goal.
- As Bjugstad mentioned in a first intermission interview with AT&T Sportnet’s Dan Potash, Florida was coming off their bye week today. So not only did he and McCann have to rush to the game, not get to talk at all to their new teammates and coaches, they didn’t even get to WARM UP after 11 days of not having game action. That’s about as extreme as it gets in the NHL landscape.
- Now 2-7-1 against last place teams, a strong team like Pittsburgh fans should be able to take for granted being able to beat the bottom of the league, but we all know better.
- Jack Johnson sure made it interesting late though. Thisisfine.jpg
- (Shuffles counter of Games Without a Short Handed Goal Against to): 2
- Power play still didn’t look good though and didn’t score again.
- Conversely, fifth game in a row giving up a goal while on the PK, that unit will have some work to do buttoning down a bit.
A quick trip up to Toronto for a game tomorrow night against the Leafs.