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Recap: Pens suffer beatdown in Los Angeles, lose 6-2

The Pens give up three goals in a 1:23 span in the third period and fall 6-2 to the LA Kings

Pittsburgh Penguins v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Pregame

Same lines and lineup as last game, with one exception - Drew O’Connor is back from COVID and an AHL assignment to get into the lineup in favor of Anthony Angello. All Star Tristan Jarry back in net.

First period

It’s not a good first run through the lines as the Kings take the better of the play with five of the first seven shots of the game, but the Pens get on the board first anyways. Nice o-zone draw win by Teddy Blueger and Kris Letang pinches down. Brian Dumoulin fires wide and Letang just chips the puck towards Jonathan Quick. The puck bounces off the out-stretched Quick’s skate and into the net. Weird one, but it counts. 1-0 Pittsburgh.

Olli Maatta comes right down main street all alone and DING, squarely off the post. There’s a scramble in front but Jarry holds them off.

Jarry can’t hold off sloppy defense though, Kasperi Kapanen and Mike Matheson get jammed up together and Kapanen ends up losing the puck right in the middle of the ice. Anze Kopitar jumps on the gift and snaps a quick shot that hits Kapanen and goes into the net. 1-1.

Late in the period Evgeni Malkin takes an offensive zone interference penalty (he’s back, baby!) and the Kings get the first power play of the night.

Shots in the first are 11-9 LA.

Second period

Los Angeles has 1:38 of carryover power play time from the Malkin minor to start the second, but the Pens kill it off.

Second period, LA does a good job mucking up the room and being quicker to pucks, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a lot going on and can’t get much done when they do. The Kings keep pouring the shots on but Jarry is keeping the team in the game.

A rare nice chance generation by the Pens on a Sidney Crosby cross-ice pass to Evan Rodrigues but Quick reads it very well and is in position to rob E-Rod.

That’s at about the mid-way point of the period, and is Pittsburgh’s second shot on goal of the second. LA has 10.

With 7:14 left, Mike Matheson gets called for a hooking penalty, so LA get their second and the game’s second power play of the game. The Kings get some looks on this one, Jarry makes a great save on Alex Iafallo, but late in power play they strike. Sean Durzi walks Kasper Bjorkqvist on the line and gets a shooting lane. He fires, Jarry stops it but the rebound is left for Dustin Brown to pull the puck to his forehand and slide it into the net. 2-1 LA gets their first lead.

Jake Guentzel and Crosby go on a 2-on-1 but Crosby’s shot rings off the cross-bar in a near miss. The Evgeni Malkin lines builds on that with a good shift and draws the Pens’ first power play of the night with a slashing call on Viktor Arvidsson. Unfortunately it’s LA who get the better scoring chances with a breakaway that Jarry saves and a 2-on-1 shot that misses the net.

In the closing seconds, Guentzel breaks in alone, Quick stops him but almost flubs it by not feeling the puck where he think he did but....it dies right on the line. No goal.

Shots in the second are 20-8 LA. Not a misprint, 20! The Pens got a bit of bad luck towards the end with Crosby and Guentzel coming close, but if not for Jarry this wouldn’t even be a 2-1 game.

Third period

Just 1:37 in, the Pens draw even. Nice job by Chad Ruhwedel to step up in the zone and keep the puck deep and Teddy Blueger makes a nice centering pass to Radim Zohorna. The Kings aren’t in great defensive form as the puck goes high-low-slot quickly and Zohorna chips it in. 2-2.

It doesn’t last long though, Mikey Anderson shoots from the point just a bit later and it gets past Jarry’s glove side cleanly, no traffic. Been a long time since Jarry gave up a softie and all his good work from early disappears. 3-2.

Then 10 seconds later, the Kings get a dagger. Adrian Kempe motors in to the outside around Kris Letang, no real problem until Arvidsson skates right past Brian Dumoulin and is in alone. Kempe makes a great centering pass for Arvidsson to finish. 4-2 in a flash.

LA gets a third goal just 1:13 later, outnumbering the Pens down low and spacing them out then a nice pass from Alex Iafallo hits Kopitar all alone in front. He won’t miss from there. 5-2.

Marcus Pettersson goes later for a cross-check to give LA another power play, as if they need it! Luckily the PK comes through to prevent even more of a gongshow.

With 1:40 left, LA wins an o-zone draw and Sean Kurzi shoots from the point and it goes in. 6-2.

The three LA goals in a 1:23 span sent this from a tie game to decisive win. Pens skate away empty handed on this one as a result.

Some thoughts

  • This was a game that the Pens missing Brock McGinn and Zach Aston-Reese on the PK caught up to them. Drew O’Connor and Bjorkqvist got shifts on the PK, the latter showing perhaps a bit of inexperience getting pulled out of the shooting lane and leading to a goal against.
  • First road game of the season (16 games) that Jake Guentzel didn’t get a point :(
  • Maybe it’s just wearing a jersey number that starts with a “5” and being a smaller, RH shot but Durzi looked a lot like a 2006-09 Kris Letang-like player out there tonight. He was jumping around and making things happen with a 1G+2A game.
  • The Pens have been averaging allowing 29.3 shots against per game this season. LA got 20 in the second period alone. Not great.
  • Jarry was really, really good in the first two periods, and especially that second period. So it’s not an indictment on him the game fell apart, even though when the dam broke it was a weak point shot he saw all the game through. Ask too much of a goalie and that happens.
  • And really, I didn’t like Jarry’s body language before that point. He was doing that thing tired goalies do in the second, staying on a knee for a bit after stopping a puck. It wasn’t full “out of shape men’s league” goalie mode or anything, but Jarry’s workload lately is pretty high (his 29 games played rank 3rd in the NHL of current). Not sure the answer is ever “willingly play Louis Domingue in an NHL game” but Jarry’s more than earned a bit of a break and the Pens are going to have to manage and consider not grinding him down too much.
  • To that point, Sullivan didn’t give Jarry the hook during the third either. Would have seemed a good chance to put a mercy end to his night and give him a break.
  • To end on a positive note, nice goal by Zohorna who did well to track the play and find a soft spot in the zone. He’s a fun player to watch to do the little things, and it’s nice to see the big guy do some big things like put the puck in the net.

The road trip got less fun tonight, but the Pens are 2-2-0 on it, with two more games to go. The trip continues up to San Jose on Saturday night.