The Penguins don’t even bring Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang on the quick one-game trip for Detroit. And worse, there’s no Brian Dumoulin for this either.
Pittsburgh gets an early power play when a Red Wings player clears it over the glass, but the Pens do nothing with it.
Detroit gets a power play and Tyler Bertuzzi shoots on Matt Murray who makes a lunging stop of the puck. But at the next whistle there’s a review, and it’s determined that Murray’s glove did fully allow the puck to cross the line, so it’s a goal that counts. Still a heck of an effort for Murray to even be able to make a play on it..
Game moves along, not a lot of whistles which leads to the last television timeout coming very late in the period. So the Pens find themselves having an offensive zone draw with just over one minute left. Coach Mike Sullivan sends out Phil Kessel to play with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, and whaddaya know - the three top forwards on the team combine to score a goal late.
Guentzel pulls the puck off the wall and chips it ahead to spring Crosby a on 2-on-1. Sid looks pass the whole way and fires a beauty that Kessel quickly releases at juust over pad height on Jimmy Howard. Great coach, great goal to make it a 1-1 game before the end of the period.
Shots end up 14-6 Pittsburgh after one.
Jack Johnson does a nice job drawing a tripping penalty when Dylan Larkin gets a little too petulant and trips JJ in DET’s offensive zone. Not a very smart move there, but the Pens’ power play can’t make them pay.
Kessel gets a breakaway at the end of a long shift but he shoots wide.
Detroit gets the next goal, nice backhand pass by Darren Helm past Erik Gudbranson and Bertuzzi was wide open to lift his second goal of the game past Murray and make it 2-1.
Johnson with a highlight reel loss of the zone, needless retreat all the way back, and a bad, weak backhand puck to change possession.
Shots in the second end up 11-9 Detroit.
Pens shuffle things up looking for more life, Dominik Simon is up with Crosby and Guentzel now.
Andreas Anthanasiou motors by the Pens’ defense but Murray makes a big save. Soon after, Kessel is sprung again and get a good look at Howard but he too stands tall.
Detroit makes it 3-1. Larkin lifts a long breakout pass past the Pens’ defense and Anthony Mantha skates past Marcus Pettersson and makes a nifty forehand deke to be able and tuck it in.
Mantha then gets his second of the game to salt the game away with a long range empty net goal. 4-1.
- New look power play with Nick Bjugstad on the group, in the place of Patric Hornqvist. Didn’t really do much, and I don’t know why you tinker with a road power play that’s been at 33% this season. The team is already down Malkin and Letang, it doesn’t sound wise to lose Hornqvist from what is traditionally such a successful group.
- Great job by Sullivan to shuffle the deck a bit, and it was needed. Down so much skill, they have to find ways to generate offense.
- As soon as Dumoulin was announced out, one got the feeling this game would just be one to get through, hope to grind out the best and just move on for Thursday.
- The big one from this might be Kessel breaking the ice by scoring at ES for the first time in a while. And each of the last two periods saw Kessel lurking behind the defense, getting passes to have him in space and for partial breakaways. Haven’t seen looks like that from him in a while, the confidence has to be feeling a bit better to get a goal.
- Bjugstad got a big push in this one, moved to the top power play and when the Pens pulled the goalie, he was the extra player to jump out.
- This one kind of felt like the Nashville game on Friday. Not a ton to play for on the road, a lot of shots but don’t get much going.
Well, not too much to dwell on here, the Pens get another shot at Detroit and back on home ice on Thursday for Game #81 to look at clinching a playoff berth.