Welcome back, Evgeni Vladimirovich Malkin! And also Anthony Whateveryourmiddlenameis Angello! The Penguins get hit with some COVID protocol losses, and maybe have two fourth lines...But also maybe two worthy first lines, so hey, this will be fun.
Peek that 2nd line center pic.twitter.com/srdGctZh8c— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 12, 2022
Early on, former Duck Marcus Pettersson gets some revenge on his old mates by pinching up on the play and poking loose a puck. It goes right to Jeff Carter who quickly flings it on net and Anthony Stolarz isn’t ready for it. 1-0 Pens just 1:05 in as Stolarz looks to the heavens wondering how in the world that shot beat him.
Fun fact: Big Jeff Carter has eight points over his last nine games (5G-3A). pic.twitter.com/UvZxUoS9GZ— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 12, 2022
The Penguins get an early power play when Ryan Getzlaf takes down Radim Zohorna in the corner. With Malkin back the boys are zipping the puck around pretty good, but no goal.
“Stolie the goalie” made up for his early miscue by being great for the rest of the period. He stopped Sidney Crosby from on the door-step, later denied Kasperi Kapanen on a breakaway attempt. Stolarz held the Pens at bay, despite a high volume of shots that they threw at him. Shots in the first were 16-7 in favor of Pittsburgh.
With 19 seconds left, the Ducks get their first power play of the game, with John Marino headed off to the sin bin for holding.
Anaheim gets a couple of good looks on their 1:40 of carryover power play time to start the period, but Tristan Jarry is strong and tracking the puck really well to keep up and adjust to make saves.
Soon after, Hampus Lindholm interferes with an on-rushing Kapanen, so the Pens are off to their second power play. This time, Malkin makes it count. Kris Letang and Malkin play a two-man game for a bit around the outside and Malkin hammers a slapper from distance. With a jumping Sidney Crosby screen in front, the puck slides under Crosby’s legs and past Stolarz. 2-0 Pens, courtesy of another early period goal.
HE'S BACK AND HE'S SCORING GOALS. pic.twitter.com/Tz2XcZeTiy— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 12, 2022
Jakub Silfverberg breaks a 30-game goal-less drought with a goal to get Anaheim back in the game. The Pens look a little out of sort defensively and Malkin’s play on a Jarry rebound ends up right on Silfverberg’s stick and he snaps it past a prone Jarry. 2-1 with 11:27 left.
Evan Rodrigues gets high-sticked to painfully give Pittsburgh a third power play of the game. Crosby and Malkin both get big shots, they don’t score but it just looks right again, you know?
Malkin continues to put his stamp on the game and scores again to make it 3-1. Great shot-pass from Marino who finds the stick of Geno down low. The deflection flutters up and over the arm of Stolarz to give Malkin a second goal in as many periods of this game.
Geno, ARE YOU CRAZY?!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 12, 2022
Two goals in your season debut? pic.twitter.com/x4VipyBXsq
Shots in the second are 13-11 Pittsburgh and 29-18 PIT overall. It’s a two goal lead after two periods and a two goal night from #71.
It’s not a great start to a period for the first time for the Pens, Jeff Carter takes a penalty for hooking 1:25 into the third. Jarry and the PK take care of business, but not before a good shot from Trevor Zegras is steered away by the Pittsburgh netminder.
Anaheim gets another shot at the power play when Mike Matheson trips a guy. But Brian Dumoulin and Brian Boyle go the other way with one of the most unlikely and least threatening 2-on-1’s you’ll ever see, but hey, kills some time just the same and the Pens again get out of the jam.
Time ticks along, the Ducks pull the goalie fairly early with 3:35 left in their two goal hole to try and get on with the comeback attempt. It doesn’t work as Malkin just feeds Carter for the easy ENG. 4-1 Pens.
That will be how it ends, with the Pens getting the W in Anaheim.
- Penguins now up to 19-2-0 when scoring first this season. They scored one minute into this game and never looked back. Perfect road game.
- Zohorna playing with Simon made for a nice Czechia twist. Gotta be one of the first times since the height of the Jaromir Jagr “Prague West” days that two Czech players in Pittsburgh have been on the same line.
- And with Zohorna, Brian Boyle and Anthony Angello tonight’s lineup had some serious size up front too, with all of those players in the 6’5+ realm.
- Jeff Carter is technically the “left winger”, but in the first period he took eight faceoffs. Malkin took exactly zero of ‘em. Then in the course of play Malkin would slide into center responsibilities and Carter would go to the wall like a winger. But there’s one reason to have Carter on the Malkin line as they work Geno back into the game. Malkin ended up with three faceoffs on the game, one of them on the PP after Crosby was asked to leave by the refs.
- Jake Guentzel nabbed an assist on the Malkin PPG, so that’s at least a point in all 15 road games he has played this season. (And a 18 game personal point streak for Guentzel).
- The sequence for Malkin’s second goal started with Zohorna winning the puck back from an Anaheim clear attempt as he jumped on the ice as the line was changing. He didn’t get assist on the play, but it was a subtle, important touch. He drew a penalty, had a few nice in-zone passes as well, a lot of little things that caught my eye. Zohorna’s been shuffled out in part due to the number of depth forwards on the team, but it would be great if he got an opportunity to keep playing NHL games over some of that depth like Bjorkqvist, Simon, Boyle, Angello, etc who aren’t going to offer a ton with the puck and/or have that big of roles anyways. If the team ever got healthy enough for it, that is.
- Quietly another strong effort and performance by Jarry. The Ducks didn’t get a ton of shots on target, but they were playing the puck and making him move quite a bit around and he had to be sharp on what he did see come his way. For his part, Jarry did more than his part in another “steady as she goes” type of game that he’s been providing basically all season long.
- This game was all about Malkin, though. A big two goals, an ENG assist as the cherry on top and an emphatic statement coming back about how much magic he had left and whether or not he would fit in/be able to still help the team. Malkin’s presence changed the whole tone and tenor of how the power play operates, he looked good overall with 4 SOG, six total shot attempts.
The Pens get right back in the win column after losing their long streak, always encouraging to see. Pittsburgh sticks around in SoCal for a bit longer and will head over to see the Kings on Thursday night.