Two forward changes from last game for the Pens- Colton Sceviour is back and Zach Aston-Reese makes his season debut, replacing Jared McCann (injured) and Sam Lafferty. Goalie change too with Casey DeSmith getting the nod.
H O C K E Y T I M E !#LetsGoPens pic.twitter.com/1RScgawpmf— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2021
Rough start for DeSmith, twice behind the net he makes bad decisions and/or plays with the puck and then 5:39 in Casey Cizikas strikes. A bouncing puck victimizes John Marino seemingly as much as Cizikas who makes a nice deke to his forehand, but...yikes. DeSmith might as well not even have been on the ice and the result would have been the same as the puck slowly slides into the net.
Sliding into a 1-0 lead like... pic.twitter.com/2lckxKxzbZ— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 12, 2021
The Pens keep working and fire back. Marino doesn’t earn an assist, but creates a play with his skating in the o-zone to make up for his fumble earlier. Marino finds Sidney Crosby who makes a patented cross-ice diagonal pass to Jake Guentzel. Guentzel has time and space and Bryan Rust does well to give Guentzel a target with his stick. Guentzel fires the puck in and it’s an easy tap-in for Rust. 1-1 game.
"Gorgeous. Wow. Absolutely gorgeous."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2021
The exact words we love to hear when describing a Penguins goal. pic.twitter.com/bqZHbwEsZB
The Pens keep getting the better of the play, but their luck again runs out when Cody Ceci clears the puck over the glass for the game’s first penalty. While short handed, Mark Jankowski explodes out of the zone and it’s a 2-on-0 with Aston-Reese. Jankowski is no shooting threat at all, and Semyon Varlamov easily reads the pass. Aston-Reese shoots but Varlamov makes the save.
Then, the other way, Pierre-Olivier Joseph has the puck behind the net but just chops it weakly to the corner where the Islanders collect it. Doesn’t take long from there where Nick Leddy fires a point shot that hits Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s stick and goes in the net. 2-1 NYI.
That hand-eye coordination though pic.twitter.com/1RKhkHIJBG— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 12, 2021
Total shots are 10-10 in the period, Pens have a 51.2% 5v5 Corsi For% and 52.9% 5v5 Scoring Chance%. Behind on the scoreboard due to the Islander power play though.
The Pens keep battling and chipping away and the buzzsaw strikes. Teddy Blueger dumps the puck in (a little before the red line, but shhh) and Zach Aston-Reese goes to work and wins it behind the net from rookie Noah Dobson. Aston-Reese pops out with a quick shot that Varlamov stops, but ZAR gets his own rebound and punches it home to make it 2-2.
HAIL TO THE cZAR! pic.twitter.com/IZzEMEKON3— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2021
Pittsburgh gets their first power play against the Isles in almost the last 90 minutes of play when Jordan Eberle comically throws a broken stick through mid-air. The Pens’ sputtering power play does not do well. The only big chance happens for the Islanders when J.G Pageau gets off to the races on a clean breakaway but DeSmith makes a massive save on him to keep the score tied.
Great period otherwise for the Pens, who lead in shots in the second 14-6, take Corsi% 57.6%, scoring chances 57.1%. But, only outscore the opposition 1-0 and it’s a 2-2 game going into the third. As good as the long periods of territorial domination have been, they just haven’t taken away a big scoring advantage.
The Islanders take the lead with 6:23 left, Mat Barzal on a one-on-one rush with Joseph and gives the rookie the business to get by him with speed and then shoots top corner. 3-2.
(⌐■_■)— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 12, 2021
(•_•) WOAH. pic.twitter.com/nnblcU5e6K
The Pens pull their goalie for the last ditch try at tying the game. They force an o-zone faceoff and coach Mike Sullivan wisely calls a timeout with 35 seconds left to give his stars a chance to catch their wind. It works. Rust hits the post and the Pens stay focused. Eventually Kris Letang feeds the puck over to Evgeni Malkin for a long range one timer that’s perfectly placed to the top corner and the Pens pull to a tie with just 18 seconds left.
DON'T POKE THE BEAR. pic.twitter.com/U91qJ5kzyy— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2021
Shots are 9-8 Pens in the third. The last shot was the biggest to earn a point.
Malkin comes to life, active in the defensive zone knocking a puck away and going forward with the puck when he can. Not much otherwise happens, DeSmith tracks the puck well and stands tall.
Jordan Eberle goes first for NYI, DeSmith stops him with the blocker...Guentzel goes in round one for the Pens and is blanked by Varlamov.
Barzal up next, he comes in slowly and dekes backhand but DeSmith stays with him...Crosby also comes down slowly, dekes to his backhand and lifts the puck past Varlamov, scores.
Josh Bailey in the do-or-die. DeSmith stops him. Pens win!
- Three straight games with a puck over glass penalty for the Pens. Just unnecessary and killing them, but such is life when lower-end players get rushed and try to go off-the-glass and out, only to fly the puck and not hit the glass. Ceci was the guilty party this game.
- That PK sequence just kinda sums up the Pens luck right now. Can’t score on the 2-on-0, other goalie makes a great read and a nice save. Give up a goal shortly thereafter. Just kinda the ways it’s going right now.
- While the bad power play gets a lot of attention in ink and pixels, the Pittsburgh PK has now allowed goals in six straight games and is not much better right now.
- For the first time really, P.O Joseph looked like a rookie defenseman. Rookie defensemen make mistakes. He just kinda weakly chipped the puck with no idea or end-game which led to a goal. It’s tough to defend Barzal in open space, and Joseph was guilty of swinging the stick more than playing the man, to his determent. Learning experience type of game, but when defensemen make mistakes, it often ends in the back of their net.
- Up until his goal, it was looking like a lost game for Malkin. He didn’t have a shot on goal until towards the end of the game, lost 11 out of 14 faceoffs on the night and otherwise just wasn’t a force....Until he was one with the late goal. That erases a lot of the early inactivity, but the Pens will still need more earlier.
- DeSmith settled down nicely after a 2 GA first period. CDS stopped 18 of the last 19 and was big again in a shootout to help the team earn another game. Nice result and battle level by DeSmith, as he usually provides.
Unlocking the 3 keys to the game (from the preview)
#1 It’s OK to score twice in a row.. I guess kinda they did with the late third goal and the game deciding shootout goal. But otherwise the Pens were playing from behind again and never held a lead in the game.
Equalizing Eberle. This one went well. Eberle was a rare non-factor against Pittsburgh, and went without a shot on goal until the shootout where he did not score. And he took a very avoidable penalty when he threw a broken stick.
Powerplay struggles..again. The Pens power play only got one chance and didn’t do well, giving up the best scoring chance and getting bailed out by DeSmith to avoid another embarrassing goal against while up a player. It’s now 1 for 22 in the last eight games, and somehow even worse than that.
In the end, the result is all that matters, especially when the Pens need to drive for 63-65 points on the year to likely ensure a playoff spot. Taking two points on the road (where Pittsburgh had only won one of seven games entering tonight) is a small step in the right direction, even if it took some late heroics and a favorable shootout result to get there.