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Penguins/Rangers Recap: Pens rally back to win in a shootout...again

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Same story for the Pens...Fall behind, rally back and find a way to win. Big night for Bryan Rust and Tristan Jarry starts a bounce back

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin K. Aller/NHLI via Getty Images

Pregame

The Penguins turn to Cody Ceci and, for the first time, Pierre-Olivier Joseph to fill injury voids. Tristan Jarry back in net for the first time in three games.

First period

It’s not really a great period process-wise, for the Pens who start out pretty slow and flat.

However, for a team coming into the game allowing a league-high 10 first period goals, they don’t give up a first period goal. Tristan Jarry is able to keep the puck out of the net, which is a fun start.

Also Cody Ceci does a good thing, walking back on the blueline and sending in an innocent enough looking shot that Bryan Rust is able to masterfully redirect past Rangers goalie Ilya Shesterkin. 1-0 Pens.

Shortly after the goal, Pittsburgh carries no momentum when Kris Letang takes a penalty but the Pens kill it off. Otherwise, pretty dull period. Shots overall are 14-8 NYR. The 5v5 Corsi% was a 62.5-37.5% split for the Rangers.

Second period

Despite the above with some smoke and mirrors, the Pens fell apart early in the second. Jake Guentzel took a bad luck penalty for clearing the puck over the glass just 32 seconds in. New York didn’t score but the tone was set early. Shortly after that penalty expired, it looks like Brian Dumoulin just whiffs on moving the puck up the ice, he’s checked by Phil Di Giuseppe and Chad Ruhwedel comes to help but compounds the probably by falling for some unknown reason. With both Pens’ defenders in the corner, it’s easy for Filip Chytil to have all day to deke and dodge around, eventually outmaneuvering Jarry with a move to the backhand after way too long to set him up.

A few minutes later, Sidney Crosby is whistled for a pretty weak little slash on the hands of an opponent. NYR cashes in on the power play, Adam Fox lets a low hard shot go from distance, there’s some traffic in front but there was a lot of that side of the net open too. 2-1 Rangers.

24 seconds later, the bottom completely falls out. New York scores on the rush as Jarry kicks the initial shot directly to Kaapo Kakko. 3-1

After giving up three goals in 3:01, Pittsburgh takes a timeout to regroup and stop the bleeding. It seems to work to settle them down and break the momentum.

The Pens finally find some footing, really great shift by Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust leads to several scoring chances and in-zone time. Malkin is tripped so the Pens get a power play. Their second group starts and they also finish it. Jared McCann centers the puck to try to create chaos, and chaos is created when Ryan Lindgren apparently panics, and from all fours throws the puck into his own net in a moment of desperation. 3-2 Rangers lead.

Shots in the second are 10-7 Pens. They do well to play better in the latter half of the period, but that first five minutes was r-u-f-f rough.

Third period

The Pens plug away for a bit, back within striking distance. Zucker unfortunately takes a penalty but Pittsburgh kills it off.

And then..11:23 into the period, they strike with the equalizer. Nice job by Kapanen on the zone entry and to settle things down and drop back for Joseph. Joseph shoots wide but Teddy Blueger makes a dy-no-mite play to quickly pick up the puck as it kicks off the end board and quickly snap it into the net. 3-3 game.

Malkin turns the puck over right in front of his net and right to Artemi Panarin who has LONG been a thorn in the Pens’ side. But a sprawling Malkin also kicks his leg out to block the shot and at least salvage his mistake.

Shots are 11-9 NYR in the third, and 31-26 NYR overall in the game. But it’s tied, so again we get..

OT

Some nice end-to-end action, as always in the 3v3, both sides have some chances. Both teams actually hit a post too. But the puck stays out which means..

Shootout

Round 1: Jake Guentzel goes to the backhand and lifts it in....Zibanejad is stopped by Jarry.

Round 2: Crosby goes and misses the net...Panarin slows it way down and rips it low and in the net.

Round 3: A classic Letang move to fake the shot, deke backhand and lift it under the bar...Jarry stones Tony DeAngelo and the Pens take the win.

Some thoughts

  • Big time game from Rust, 11 shots on goal and 12 shot attempts...Coming into the night he only had 7 SOG in 4 games, tonight was a big difference. After being dropped to the third line at times last game, Rust was playing like a guy who wanted to stay up with Malkin today.
  • Of course, flip side is the other 17 skaters not named Rust had a total of 18 SOG. Not the best. Malkin and Crosby only had 2 shot attempts on the night a piece.
  • Night to remember for Joseph. NHL debut, check. First NHL point, check. (Ok so it came from missing the net on a shot, but they don’t ask how). The Pens didn’t ask for much from him with only 13:02 played, all at 5v5, but he had 3 SOG, 3 hits and wasn’t on ice for any goals against. Nice debut.
  • Second game, and second point for Kasperi Kapanen with the Pens. They’re still bringing him along slowly to help make sure he’s not getting in over his head, but so far, so good for him too.
  • The Penguins have played 5 games this season....In four games they have been down 2 goals during it. Pretty remarkable that they’re 3-2 right now.
  • Jared McCann’s last goal before today was over a calendar year ago, Jan 14, 2020. There was a pandemic in between but it would be nice if he could heat up.
  • Blueger is off to a great start this year and has been great in the offensive zone.
  • Given the nature of how it went at the beginning of the 2nd period, it didn’t feel like a steady game for Jarry. But he bounced back from his terrible rebound on Kakko’s goal by shutting the door for almost 40 minutes and won a shootout the rest of the way. And made 31 saves for the night while providing the first goaltending performance for the Pens this season that was above .900% (.911%). Not a huge leap forward, but a small enough step.
  • Cody Ceci played 18:53 (4th most among Penguin defenders), had an assist, 1 takeaway, 1 blocked shot, 2 hits. Thought he had a nice game. Getting scratched for a few isn’t easy for any player’s confidence, especially one known for having up and down performances. But Ceci was, dare I say, fairly sturdy and consistent tonight? Let’s see how long it lasts..
  • The other defender everyone was looking towards in his big homecoming played 14:35 and was on ice for 0 Rangers goals for, 2 Penguins goals and was on ice for more shots and chances against than for, despite the fact his team overall had more shots and chances. Whomst could have guessed it?. Atta boy Jack!

Unlocking the keys to the game (from the preview)

#1: Whose bad defense hurts more? I feel like the Pens’ defense actually had a poor night. Dumoulin made a bad blunder for NYR’s first goal. He hasn’t quite looked his usual self this year yet, troubling since he hasn’t really looked the same since he suffered an ankle injury last season. Also, Chad Ruhwedel now is being counted on with all of Pittsburgh’s current defensive injuries to be a key piece. He played 11:02 ES, in part possibly due to his bungle on that first goal too. Even Pierre-Olivier Joseph played more ES time than that in his very first game. Dumoulin did rebound to play 26 minutes, with just that one issue, it just stands out. Letang had a few up and down moments but at the end of the day played a game-high 29:42, notched an assist and scored the game-deciding shootout goal.

#2: Seeking a good start, for once. Well, it was a good enough start for the Pens. They didn’t allow a first period goal for the first time all season, and scored the game’s first goal. A bad start to the second period almost sunk them, however, all’s well that ends well. The process wasn’t that good, and really the case could be made the Pens stunk for the first 25 minutes overall, and were pretty good for the last 45+shootout. But we’ll start with taking not allowing any first period goals as a minor form of progress.

#3: Floodgates for Geno? The numbers say Malkin was dominant. His 67.7% Corsi% led the Pens. As did his 72.2% Scoring Chance% and as did his 71.4% High Danger Scoring Chance%. As did his 1.19 5v5 xGF. Malkin drew a penalty as well. He hasn’t always been smooth, there’s been a few poor decisions here and there...But really, the Pens’ 2nd line was very dominant possession-wise in this game. They scored one goal, on a deflection by Rust, but they are working very hard and generating a TON of chances. This wasn’t a “floodgate” situation where he got rewarded for all that work....But it reaaallly feels close at this point.

Ignore the first 5 minutes of the second period, and the Pens looked awesome tonight. Unfortunately, those minutes counted. Pittsburgh is perhaps lucky to take away another victory, but they feel very close to rounding into form and finding a way to put together a complete effort and play to their actual potential for once. They still have some very bad lapses, but the signs are starting to add up. Jarry took a small step forward today. Rust took a big step ahead. It adds up to taking away a win, which is always a good night.