Welcome to Pittsburgh, Jason Zucker! The Penguins’ newest acquisition slots in on the first line in his first day with the team. The goalie rotation continues with Matt Murray back in the net, despite Tristan Jarry playing very well in a win last game.
Tampa was teeing off on Murray early, with a ton of shots but the Pens were able to keep the puck out of the net and survive a Jared McCann boarding penalty.
Pittsburgh gets their first power play and they strike. Nice puck manipulating by Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin to draw the Lightning defenders to the same side and open up a lot of room for Sidney Crosby. As usual, this does not end well for the opponent. Crosby hammers a slapshot from distance, which more just hits Andrei Vasilevskiy then him actually actively making the save and the puck bounces out towards Malkin. Great job by Malkin to quickly release the puck, elevate it, and get a lot of velocity on it to get the puck in the net before Vasilevskiy could recover.
And the Russian scores... on Miracle on Ice Celebration Night. pic.twitter.com/h3PhoraQBW— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2020
Braydon Coburn takes a penalty late in the period to send the Pens’ to the power play at intermission.
Shots after one period are 17-8 Lightning. 5v5 shots are 14-5 TB per Natural Stat Trick. 5v5 xGF is 1.34-1.12 for Tampa. Great period for Matt Murray to blank them.
The Pens’ power play can’t strike again but gets some good in-zone time. The shift after it ends, Zach Aston-Reese goes to the box to give Tampa their second power play of the game and they score. Mikhail Sergachev doesn’t shoot hard from the blueline, but picks a nice spot with Crosby, Letang Pat Maroon and Ondrej Palat all lined up in Murray’s vision. 1-1 game.
Mikhail Sergachev PP 1-1 pic.twitter.com/TNgmhIZHst— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) February 12, 2020
The Pens keep working at it and McCann and Bryan Rust are off on a 2-on-1 rush. McCann sauces a wonderful pass and Rust one-times it. Vasilevskiy gets the smallest piece of the puck with his blocker, which ends up steering it into the iron and out of the wide open net. Tough to believe that doesn’t end up in the net, in this charmed season for Rust those have been hitting pay-dirt. He did his part, just a nice save and some charmed luck for Vasilevskiy.
Luke Schenn drills Malkin and keeps him pinned down for several seconds. This rightly pisses Malkin off who later gives Schenn a few gloved punches and...they both get penalties. Weird.
Then when it cycles back to 5v5, Brandon Tanev, usually known for drawing penalties, takes one 200 feet from his net when he holds a Tampa player while forechecking. Kinda weak call. No makeup call comes when Teddy Blueger is upended after a really nice PK shift.
The Pens’ vs. refs continues when going into a commercial break, Letang probably calls an official a word you can’t call them and gets a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct to send the Pens to yet another 4v5 situation. Luckily the TB power play has been struggling mightily, but still, not great!
Pittsburgh kills it off and in the closing seconds a possible blow to Tampa as Nikita Kucherov leaves the ice hobbled.
Shots in the second are 11-10 Pens, which is a minor miracle considering 0 minutes power play and almost six shorthanded. Shots overall are 27-19 TB.
Crosby gets a great zone entry and draws a penalty when Sergachev hits him late behind the play to give the Pens their third power play of the game. In a very similar circumstance to the first goal, a Letang shot hits the post, bounces and flips to Malkin who has another open net, but with a cattywompus fluttering puck, Malkin can’t get a straight shot away quickly.
After the penalty the Pens keep good zone time but suffer another ding from the post by Dominik Simon.
Game moves on, with 4:37 left the Pens get another power play. Simon uses his speed to get behind the defense and forces Kevin Shattenkirk to slash him. No dice on a goal though.
Shots in the third are 16-9 Pens. Lots of power play time. No goals on those 16 shots though.
Crosby-McCann-Letang do a great job with the all important puck control on the first shift and tire TB out, giving Malkin-Rust-Justin Schultz a chance against tired opponents. Malkin gets a shot but can’t score.
Puck goes the other way and Yanni Gourde is alone right in on him. Murray even shades heavily to take away short-side up high, but he can’t take all of the net away and Gourde roofs the puck over Murray’s shoulder to give Tampa an eight straight win.
New beginnings. All eyes were naturally on the new player in Zucker, who didn’t do a ton in his debut. Unsurprising considering he hasn’t had so much as a practice to adjust to his new team’s style, system and personnel. Zucker did manage a sneaky high 5 shots on goal, a hit, a takeaway and a giveaway in his Pens debut. He looked pretty good in the slot area of the power play when he got a chance there with the top group after Rust had to make an unplanned early shift change after getting hit with a shot.
PING! A common sound tonight, and not a good one for the Pens who dinged the posts three times and came away with zero goals for it. Vasilevskiy was really, really good and his “best friends” made him even better.
Goalie duel. Both goalies were tremendous. Neither gave up a 5v5 goal. Vasilievskiy made 35 saves. Murray 36. In the end, Gourde made the last play in a sequence where the Pens had a ton of zone time but couldn’t push through the TB defense well enough to get a good chance. Tampa got it. They won.
Exciting, low scoring game. The Pens fall a bit short and aren’t in the business of moral victories but getting one point against a team that’s won eight straight and like 20 of 23 games isn’t the end of the world. Now Pittsburgh gets to regroup, stay at home and see some weaker opponents over the weekend (MTL-DET) to try and get back on track.