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Penguins vs. Panthers Recap: Jake Guentzel does it again! Pittsburgh wins as first line shines

Two goals from Jake Guentzel including a jaw dropping OT beauty push Pittsburgh past Florida by the score of 3-2.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


Welcome back, Brian Dumoulin! Juuso Riikola is the scratch.

First period

The preview said stay out of the penalty box to avoid giving the Panthers’ third ranked power play much hope. So of course, Evgeni Malkin gets caught reaching with his stick 195 feet away from his net, tripping Aaron Eklbad. Florida gets the goal with their second power play, Henrik Borgstrom throws it on net and Erik Gudbranson standing in front of the net deflects it in his own net. But he did it with high character and some heart and soul! 1-0 Florida.

Sidney Crosby got a tip on a Dumoulin tip shot and Patric Hornqvist whacks it into the net past Roberto Luongo to score....But the stick is ruled above the crossbar, so it’s no goal. Pretty close call, but impossible to over-turn what started as a high stick and maybe got close to being fair, just too tight to see either way.

Phil Kessel with a nice spinning turnaround shot from in front, but can’t lift it much and it’s a pretty easy save, though Pittsburgh’s best scoring chance of the period, sadly so.

Shots actually end up 10-9 Pittsburgh after a late flurry at the end, but meh, sleepy opening period.

Second period

After surely a few spirited words during the break - surprise, surprise, the Pens come out a LOT better in the second. Coaching, everybody! They tie the game 16 seconds in when Mike Matheson misplays the puck and falls, which is never a good idea when Crosby is the next closest player. Crosby sets up Jared McCann but he gets defended, and who else is there but Jake Guentzel at the right place at the right time to fire a puck past Luongo’s glove. 1-1.

A few minutes later Gudbranson gets whistled for a penalty for hitting a guy in the head. Who knew ya couldn’t do that? Just trying to add a little sandpaper there, stripes! Jeez, some people just can’t appreciate the charms of a tough defenseman. Anyways the Pens kill it off.

Pittsburgh goes to their first power play when Malkin gets taken down. Nice zone entry by Hornqvist, Phil Kessel has an open lane on the right and shoots...Doesn’t score but Luongo leaves a just preposterous rebound and his way out of the net, so Crosby has the full cage to smack the puck into. He’s not missing from there. 2-1.

Pens are buzzing, Luongo looks like a wounded duck out there. Malkin hits the post, Dumoulin makes a shot/pass for Kessel to stab at near the net, but he can’t put it in.

Florida weathers that storm and then scores on the rush. It’s a 3-on-3 up the ice but the Pens don’t slow the Panthers at all and Matt Murray has to stay square to 30-goal scorer Mike Hoffman in front of him. Hoffman though slides a pass over to Vince Trocheck at a sharp angle, but it’s a clear one after Zach Trotman steps up to Hoffman instead of backing off and staying on Trocheck. With that room, Trocheck buries his seventh of the season.

Tough to get out of that period tied when the Pens seemed like a much better team but this game has no separation on the scoreboard through 40.

Third period

Lots of free-flowing action, end-to-end play, a lot of skating and fun hockey. And it’s ended by....Evgeni Malkin tripping a player 195 feet from his own net (not a double type from the first period). Pittsburgh kills it.

Crosby makes a great play as getting mugged by Keith Yandle he makes a pass through the legs of another defender to Guentzel. Guentzel gets the shot away, nice save by Luongo. Pens to a late power play. They don’t do much with it, best chance comes from the second group with Dominik Simon tipping a shot that Luongo answers.

The Pens ice the puck a couple of times and that will do it for regulation.


Crosby and Justin Schultz have a 2-on-1 early, no goal.

Dumoulin gets knocked over, Florida odd man rush, save Murray.

The game is just a bunch of chances at either end of the ice, finally Crosby wins a puck and just flips it forward. It’s Guentzel and Matheson in a foot race. They’re battling, Guentzel has positioning and puts him on his hip, dekes backhand on Luongo and into the net. 3-2 Pens win

Some Thoughts

  • The Pens only had 3 shots on goal in the first 15 minutes of the game. For a Florida team that struggles with shot suppression and poor goaltending from a nearly 40-year old, very disappointing start to not come close to scoring a goal.
  • Hornqvist got hurt in the first period blocking a shot and skated immediately off the ice and to the room which looked scary, as if the puck caught him in the left arm. He would return for the start of the second period, though the cameras caught him grimacing as he was testing making a fist.
  • Two Malkin penalties far away from the net. He’s trying to do good things with his stick, but he’s getting skates instead of the puck. That’s sort of what you have to live with in exchange for the takeaways he can get, but he can’t be reckless, especially twice, and especially in a game where the other team’s power play is basically the only weapon they have to win.
  • Phil Kessel had 5 SOG through regulation and a lot of them were good looks at the net too. No dice yet, but the breakthrough is so close you can almost feel it.
  • Someone who IS scoring goals left and right is Guentzel. Two more in this game for 33 on the season overall. Just a sensational year from a great player.
  • Crosby got to point #1,200 on the first goal, scored the second goal of the game, then assisted on the OT winner so he got a good headstart on 1,300 in this game as well.
  • He’s gutting it out (not a poop joke, for the record) but it was a nice bounceback by Luongo in this game. Looked like he was on the ropes there in the second, but steadied and played very well in the third period.
  • Speaking of, Matt Murray stops 32/34 with the only blemishes being his own guy deflecting one in, and a rush play where miscommunication between a pair we hopefully never have to see again (Dumoulin-Trotman) leaving a guy wide open for a slam dunk one-timer. Pretty solid night by Murray in his fifth straight game, and oh yeah, the Pens are 3-0-2 in that stretch.
  • Not losing any games in regulation is key, especially tonight since all the team Pittsburgh is competing with got something. Carolina lost in OT, Columbus and NYI both won in shootouts. There was no room for error and for what was a tie game all third period, the Pens did well to at least ensure a point, then go grab a second point with Guentzel’s great OT goal.
  • Nice ceremony and celebration for Matt Cullen playing his 1,500th career NHL game. Just an unreal career for the oldest player in the league.

And for a night to start with a ceremony to end in a win, it’s a nice bookend to things. In between the glory of the Guentzel-Crosby connection was on full display yet again and did all the offensive powering that was needed.