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Recap: Pens battle but fall 2-1 to Stars in shootout

Some encouraging signs from Tristan Jarry, but the Pens don’t get much going offensively and drop 2-1 to Dallas

Dallas Stars v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Pregame

For their fourth game, it’s a fourth different lineup for the Penguins, but a happy change as Mike Matheson is able to make his season debut. Up front the forwards are the same as last game, and the goalie is too with Tristan Jarry getting another start.

First period

Of all the periods of hockey, the first certainly was one. Wasn’t very eventful though for the first 19+ minutes with no penalties or many good scoring chances for either side. Then, the Stars struck before intermission. The Pens got pulled out of their defensive structure a bit and Dallas got a few looks at the net, before finding the back of it with 10 seconds left. Radek Faska made a nice cross-ice pass, through the mis-matched pair of Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel (who through scrambles were both on the opposite sides of the ice than usual) and Michael Raffl quickly shot the puck.

Shots in the first were 7-7.

Second period

The Pens grab an equalizer in the second period after a shift with a ton of zone time for the Blueger line. Brock McGinn throws a shot on goal that goalie Braden Holtby stops, but leaves a nice juicy rebound for John Marino to toss into the net to make it 1-1.

Jarry makes a big stop on Denis Gurianov on a 2-on-1 after Dallas gets some space on the rush when Matheson whiffs on a hit attempt on Tanner Kero.

Shots in the second are 9-7 Pens, but they did very little in the second half of the period after controlling most of the first part of the second. Overall shots are 16-14 Pens through 40 in a fairly tight checking, no penalty game.

Third period

Early on, Alex Radulov bulls past Matheson and gets an odd-man shot from in tight that Jarry stops.

Game ambles on, Luke Glendening and Jason Zucker get into a post-whistle scrum and each go off the ice with 10:32 left for the first penalties as the teams play some 4v4 action for the first non-5v5 time of the contest.

Dallas gets a great chance at 4v4 but Jarry matches it by making a tremendous save off an explosive push to his left to keep the game at 1-1.

Nothing else happens in regulation, both teams fighting hard for every inch, tons of puck support and tough to get much space to operate.

Overtime

Carter-Guentzel-Letang start, they get a couple looks on the net but Holtby has the answers.

Blueger-Matheson-Marino are next as the Pens go 2D for a d-zone start. Blueger gets trapped out for 1:50 as Dallas takes possession but the Pens hold on for a change courtesy of a Jarry save.

Carter-Guentzel-Marino are next, the Stars are dominating faceoffs in OT and keeping the puck.

Dallas gets a slow developing 2-on-1, Letang does well to break up a pass and Jarry makes another stop as OT reaches its final minute. A bit later Radulov hits the outside of the post trying to go far-side on Jarry.

Letang, Kapanen and Guentzel get a few looks as time expires.

Shootout

First shootout of the year for the Pens..Guentzel goes first, he dekes to the backhand but can’t beat Holtby.

The Stars’ goal scorer Faska is next, he dekes to his forehand but a sprawling Jarry throws Faska off his angle and he misses wide.

Letang up next, he dekes forehand in tight but it’s too late and can’t lift the puck and Holtby’s leg covered the bottom.

Joe Pavelski is next for the Stars, he dekes backhand and tucks the puck in. 1-0 shootout.

Carter is up for the Pens in a must score situation, and you know Big Jeff is coming through. He drives down with speed and shoots glove on Holtby. 1-1 shootout.

Radulov is next for a game-winning attempt that scores as Radulov dekes to his backhand and puts the puck under the bar past Jarry. Stars win the shootout.

Some thoughts

  • Very active game for the Pens’ defense. The Pettersson-Marino pair is really clicking all over the ice, with those guys switching spots, jumping up in the play and supporting the offense. Letang, as always, was looking to create shot attempts whenever possible (game-high 7 in regulation time). Matheson was no stranger to jump up on the rush. The Pittsburgh defense has rarely all been healthy at the same time for seasons, it’s a treat now and strength of the team that all the pieces are in place.
  • Marino in particular looks very, very good to start this season. He’s up to four points in the four games, beyond that his skating and puck-handling is opening up a lot in the offensive zone.
  • On the flip side, tough game for the forwards with only 12 total SOG for the 12 of them during regulation. The top line of Guentzel-Carter-Heinen had four, the Blueger line had four, the Rodrigues line had three total shots through 60.
  • Fast moving game to start, there was only 31 faceoffs through the first 40 minutes. Typically there is more than one per minute, to be significantly under that shows a lot of time between whistles and pace of play.
  • Small detail, but a trend has started with Mike Sullivan starting the Blueger line (and Pettersson-Marino) to open periods. Dallas eventually adjusted using the Faska checking line instead of the Tyler Seguin led top line. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues when Sidney Crosby returns, as typically probably 97%+ of the time the periods open with Crosby (plus Dumoulin-Letang), when available.
  • Jarry was stellar in this game, a few really big saves when he was tested to move and stop shots on cross-ice passes. Jarry has now given up two 5v5 goals against in the three games he has played, which continues a very encouraging trend and really is the goaltending the Pens need to be successful.

The Pens get through this one and now have a few days to rest, regroup and see if Sidney Crosby will be back for the next game on Saturday night when Toronto comes to the ‘Burgh. Getting through these first four games at 2-0-2 is still just about a best case scenario considering the names missing (Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust) for so long this early.