Same one for Pittsburgh as last game as they gear up for Game 82.
Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk takes a penalty 30 seconds into the game but the Pens don’t do much with it.
Coach Mike Sullivan puts his first line right back out after the early power play, and they draw another quick PP with Jared McCann getting cross-checked in the corner. But again, Pittsburgh’s power play does little, in fact the best chance of these early four minutes is probably Marc Staal getting a shot from right in front of the net that Matt Murray saves.
Luckily though, after poking the puck up for a 2-on-1 with Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby snaps a perfectly placed saucer pass from #59 juuust inside the post and past Alexandar Georgiev to make it 1-0.
That's 99 points on the season for Sidney Crosby. pic.twitter.com/hrvRvCzuEu— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 6, 2019
The Pens though give it back soon after. Absolutely dreadful neutral zone turnover by Garrett Wilson to blindly throw the puck to the middle of the ice that gets picked off. Overpaid defenseman turned forward Brendan Smith is the beneficiary getting a breakaway and making a really nice shot over the shoulder of Murray to tie the game at 1.
Shots are 14-12 Pens after one, mainly due to all that power play time.
Not a lot went on in this period. Murray made a couple of really clutch saves to keep the game tied, as did his counterpart Georgiev did as well.
Not the best look for the Pens to sleepwalk through a period, but it gets the season 20 minutes closer to being done, at least.
Shots on goal in the second were 14-12 for the Rangers.
The Pens look a bit more inspired coming out the gates (no doubt getting a little intermission pep talk) and Marcus Pettersson rips a point shot that Patric Hornqvist deflects. Georgiev stops that but leaves a rebound that Nick Bjugstad is able to collect and slam into the open net to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead.
A bit later the Pens get a third power play in the game when Smith trips Crosby. The power play makes some nice passes but can’t connect for a goal.
The Rangers keep digging and with 7:28 find a tying goal with Shattenkirk setting up Brady Skjei in the slot for a prime look at the net and Skjei wrists his eight goal of the season past Murray to make it 2-2.
Then next shift after that goal, Dominik Simon draws a penalty in the offensive zone when Lias Andersson hooks him. Fourth power play of the game, all for Pittsburgh. But disaster strikes for the Pens, they use Justin Schultz on the top group instead of Kris Letang and the puck ends up going the other way and Vladislav Namestnikov scores shorthanded with 6:10 left to make it 3-2 NYR.
Luckily though, with 2:35 left, our sweet, sweet, glorious number 1 hockey boy Jake Guentzel totally redeems the team and finds the puck on a scramble. Tie game. Guentzel’s 40th goal. Crosby gets in on the assist for his 100th point of the season. What a time to be alive. 3-3.
3-on-3 is exciting as it always is, but this one feels anti-climatic since getting to OT was the only thing that mattered to ensure a third place finish in the division and lock in the playoff matchup against the Islanders.
Guentzel gets checked into the goalie and doesn’t try not to be, Crosby scores but it’s pretty clearly interference and not allowed.
Ryan Strome scores a bit later to give the Rangers the win. Meh.
- The Pens were shooting a LOT, but not always the most effectively. They missed the net officially on 20 shot attempts. They had 20 more blocked by the Rangers. That’s a high number of attempts that didn’t make it on target. Credit NYR for playing hard and a full 60 minutes, but hopefully things can get a little bit cleaner for Pittsburgh moving into the postseason.
- Three goals in the last six games now for Bjugstad. That third line is not only dominating possession, but they’re also starting to reliably cash in with goals a bit more. Bjugstad has zero career NHL playoff games, but with his big body and shooting ability, he’s one of my “sleeper” picks to have a strong showing in the postseason. Seems like it should be built for a player like him to have success.
- 40 goals for Jake, what a rush! Great for him to hit that milestone, first Pens winger to get to the 40 plateau since James Neal.
- 100 points for Sid is just as fun! Crosby’s first 100 point campaign since 2013-14. Great to see him flex his muscle and offensive prowess and - best of all - stay healthy enough to be in lineup for enough games to do so. Scoring in the league was up this year, which helps, but Crosby was as brilliant and consistent as always, game in and game out. That’s a special mark to get to.
- 100 point season for the Pens too. They definitely left a few on the table, especially in the last 15-20 games with late game failings (including, you know, tonight) but overall to hit 100 points in this league is certainly a strong accomplishment.
The Pens lost, but just fighting back to get a point really felt like the win enough for this one. A couple days off to clear the mind and we’re right back for the games that really count.