The Penguins welcome Yannick Weber to the team for a game before he gets a chance to have a practice with the squad. Sam Lafferty also rotates back into the lineup for the first time in a while at the expense of Colton Sceviour and Casey DeSmith gets back into the net.
12 seconds into the game the Pens get a power play, but fail to do much with it. As an even up, the Rangers get a power play of their own a few minutes later and DeSmith is strong in net to help kill it off.
Then, Pittsburgh strikes for what has been a rare first goal of the game this season. Great work by Kasperi Kapanen to win a puck, advance it, get a zone entry and fire a cross-ice pass to P.O Joseph. Joseph makes an even better pass down to Jason Zucker at the net who is there to guide the puck in. 1-0 Pens.
Net-front tally, courtesy of Jason Zucker.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 31, 2021
Ah, it feels good to have the lead.
Joseph and Kapanen earn the assists. pic.twitter.com/lsCsb5tXtN
Sidney Crosby sends the Rangers back to the power play almost immediately after the goal, but the Pens kill it again.
Around this time, Kris Letang leaves with an injury he wouldn’t return from, and now the Penguins are in deep water and serious problems with 5 defensemen. One of whom just joined the team. One being Cody Ceci. Another being a veteran of 4 NHL games and another being 13-minute a night Chad Ruhwedel. Oh and John Marino.
The Rangers get a tying goal. Phil Di Giuseppe throws the puck to the net, DeSmith kicks the puck out to a dangerous area and then...Just kinda falls down as Brendan Lemieux crashes the crease, chaos happens and the puck bounces in the net. The Pens just can’t find a goalie with much interest or ability in keeping the puck out of the net right now.
Crash the net + the rest will follow. pic.twitter.com/okdkKeDI6H— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 31, 2021
Luckily, the Pens rebound and take the lead with a goal late in the first period, for a change. Wonderful little shoulder shake by Joseph breaks Di Giuseppe’s ankles and Joseph sends a shot in that Brandon Tanev can tip to send Pittsburgh to a 2-1 lead for the first intermission.
LOUD NOISES— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 31, 2021
(in our houses in Pittsburgh) pic.twitter.com/5e0Yoel0la
Shots in the first are 13-10 Rangers and NYR also carries a 5v5 Corsi% advantage of 56.5%.
Marino goes to the box for clearing the puck over the glass from his unfamiliar left side of the ice but the Pens are able to kill it off.
But Pittsburgh isn’t as lucky at avoiding a goal against when they get their next power play. The loss of Letang starting to rear it’s ugly head, when Marino tries to pinch to hold the blueline, seemingly not realizing that on the 5v4 and him as the only defenseman on the ice that he just can’t take that aggressive of a risk. NYR chips it by him and have a clear 2-on-0. K’Andre Miller lays it on a tee for Kevin Rooney to tap into the net. 2-2 game.
Kevin Rooney picked a good time for his first as a Ranger. pic.twitter.com/WWTuf2ZNnF— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 31, 2021
The Pens keep battling though. Evgeni Malkin does well to make a perfect stretch pass for Kasperi Kapanen who has again used instincts and his wheels to get behind the defense. Kapanen makes no mistakes to finish on his breakaway for his second goal of the season and it’s a 3-2 Pittsburgh lead.
When Kappy is happy, we're all happy. pic.twitter.com/6T3NSYmAkD— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 31, 2021
Unfortunately though, the Rangers respond on the very next shift. An innocent long range shot comes in and DeSmith kicks out a rebound right to Chris Kreider who has a gift of a goal as a result. 3-3 game as NYR draws back even almost immediately.
Right place. Perfect time. pic.twitter.com/E3kkj08nRR— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 31, 2021
Then Marino heads back to the box, which is not a great place for him to be, after his helmet is removed (with some help) and he doesn’t stop competing. Kinda a whack new rule, but so it goes. The Rangers on their power play box the Pens in real deep in their zone, they almost look like they’re in a 3v5 but it’s a 4v5. And NYR’s pressure results in Artemi Panarin ripping a shot to make it 4-3 and give New York their first lead of the game.
Shots in the second are 13-9 NYR, but it’s the Pens with a 60.7% Corsi% in the second period.
The Pens keep plugging away and eventually get the equalizer. Ceci does well to put the puck on net. Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel are right there for the loose puck and Guentzel finishes it off. 4-4 game.
Marino ➡️ Ceci ➡️ Guentzel ➡️ pic.twitter.com/Nbb1J1XtFs— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 31, 2021
The Pens keep pushing but don’t get a goal. So we get...
Pittsburgh keeps the puck for most of the overtime, which is always a good thing. Eventually they isolate on 3 tired Ranger players. Joseph feeds Crosby who snaps a long shot from distance that a seemingly exhausted looking Alex Georgiev can’t stop. Pens win.
Crosby OT winner is a bad goal by Georgiev....pic.twitter.com/AsWAgbDrzN— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) January 31, 2021
- Lowkey historic night for Malkin: Geno passes Mario Lemieux to take over 2nd place in the all-time games played in Pens’ history (916) and he also passes Jaromir Jagr to take over 3rd place for points in a Pens’ jersey (1,080).
- P.O Joseph with 15:08 played through just 2 periods was more than 3 out of 4 of his first four games total TOI. Overall he ended up with a whopping 25:58 and recorded three assists on what felt like, if not an emerging star, than certainly a very quality performance.
- In the last four games the Pens’ power play has scored 0 goals. They’ve given up 2 goals while up a player. That’s so bad.
- DeSmith’s rebound control on the 1st and 3rd goals against were huge problems. The Pens just can’t seem to get a goalie to even give them a .900+ save% night. Just too much weak, leaky goaltending letting pucks get in behind them and with not much resistance. It’s as much of a problem as anything else with this team now with back-breakingly weak moments of goaltending.
- Special teams in the second period could have easily been a backbreaker. NYR gets a SHG and a PPG. The Pens get nothing. Pittsburgh entered the period winning, they exited it losing.
- On a positive note, Zucker and Kapanen scoring is another good sign. Pens need more from that line, and those guys brought it tonight. Malkin springing Kapanen for his goal feels like a big move for him too.
- NYR scored their first four goals in the 27 minutes after Letang got hurt. Not really a coincidence as an already severely under-manned defense group just gets totally handicapped by the loss of by far their best defenseman.
- In OT, Pittsburgh double-shifted Marino and Joseph as the only two defensemen to touch the ice in the 3v3. Both of them played very well with the tanks having to be running on empty to keep the puck and Joseph shined in setting up the GWG.
Unlocking the 3 keys to the game (from the preview)
#1: Do any of the sleeping stars wake up? Chris Kreider scored a goal for his third point of the season, and Evgeni Malkin did make a nice pass for a point himself. The Pens top-six of Zucker, Kapanen, Guentzel and Crosby all chipped in goals to prove to be the difference on the night. Pittsburgh needed star power to overcome weak goaltending and 5 defensemen. They got it tonight.
No early goals against (Chris Farley voice) FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! (/Chris Farley voice). The Pens did give up a first period goal, but they also scored 2 goals in the first frame. So gotta live with that to avoid being in a hole for the first intermission like so many times before.
Powerplay struggles..again. Another night of pain for the Pens’ power play. They went 0 for 3, and worse yet, gave up a goal. To be fair (to be fair, to be faaaaaiirrrr), shit went sideways with Letang leaving in the middle of the game and causing a natural issue for putting Marino in with the top group on the fly. That didn’t go well. But overall the Pens’ power play is just a total mess right now that is literally doing more damage than it is good things. That’s not an exaggeration or talking about momentum or intangible shifts, that’s literally what is happening when the power play is not coming close to scoring goals and giving up goals against them.
The Pens found a way to win, which really at this point is all that matters. We’ll see what the diagnosis is for Letang, they can’t afford to lose him, yet at least with some strong play from Joseph and Marino carrying the load they were able to pull out the W on this night. Pens and Rangers meet again on Monday night.