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Pens/Kings Recap: Comeback bid thwarted as Los Angeles stretches Pittsburgh 4-3

Long passes and sneaking behind the defense helped Trevor Moore’s two goals mean more for Los Angeles than Bryan Rust’s two goals for the Pens. LA wins 4-3.

NHL: JAN 30 Kings at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Penguins and the Kings met on Sunday in a back-and-forth game where Los Angeles scored first, last and found a way to hold on through a Bryan Rust-led third period comeback attempt by Pittsburgh.

The Kings opened the scoring early in the second period. It looked like the Pens had them contained near the wall, but Alex Iafallo’s shot might have clicked off Sidney Crosby’s stick and flew straight to the top corner of the net.

The Penguins got on the board to tie the game at 1 with a sublime pass from Evgeni Malkin to hit Sidney Crosby on the rush and Crosby elevated the puck straight to the top shelf.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, a pair of defensive mistakes would drop them out of the game until Bryan Rust scored twice in the third period to tie the game.

For the Kings’ second goal, Jacob Moverare caught Dumoulin uncharacteristically out of position, shaded too close to the board to protect the middle of the ice. So Moverare took advantage to hit Trevor Moore with a long pass and spring him in all alone. Moore went to the backhand to beat Jarry and get the Kings up to 2-1.

A few minutes later Mike Matheson just plain took himself out of the play attempted to defend a 2-on-1 by leaving his feet. Matheson also failed to keep the puck from getting to the backside player, who was Drew Doughty, who ended up getting a few cracks at the loose change until he could stab it home. 3-1 LA.

Bryan Rust would bring the Pens back with two third period goals. The first one came after a sequence of long domination of the puck by the Pittsburgh top line.

After the Kings were rung up with a penalty for too many players on the ice, Rust struck again while looking to get a pass over for Malkin that hit goalie Cal Petersen knocked into the net on his own.

LA would score again with a home run pass to Moore, and again it got past Dumoulin. 4-3 with 6:39 left that would end the scoring and stand as the winner for the Kings.

The Pens would run out of time before they could find another equalizer and take the loss in this one.

Some thoughts

  • The Pens looked like they dodged a bullet with Brian Dumoulin. The defender was hit on the inside of the ankle with a shot near the end of the first period and had to be helped by a pair of teammates then trainers to get to the locker room. But he was able to return for the start of the second period and now hopefully his foot/ankle doesn’t swell up when he takes his skate off.
  • Hits were 39-7 in favor of the Pens after two periods, and 56-12 by the end of the game, but that is not a very positive indicator of how the game went. That was padded a lot by a second period period where Pittsburgh didn’t have the puck much and was having to chase down and hit the Kings. Recording hits = not having the puck, and for far too often in this game the Pens were trying to chase the puck back.
  • Make it now 10 PPG in the last 11 games with Evgeni Malkin back (10-for-34, 29.4%). He’s definitely changing the way the team plays!
  • Danton Heinen took warmups and was initially entered in the playing lineup but was a very late scratch for the game. He was replaced by Radim Zohorna, who as usual looked pretty good in his limited opportunities.
  • It’s a shame the Kings’ wear that shiny, tacky silver helmet which detracts attention away from the fact that their jerseys have the very good throwback ‘80s/’90s logo on it, with also the jersey striping of black and silver. Those are sharp jerseys.
  • Only two regulation losses in the last 11 games, both have been to the Kings. Pleased to not have to see these guys any longer!
  • Penguin forwards not named Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel and Rust today had just 5 shots on goal. And four of them were from Jeff Carter, which really shows the problem that the Pens have now across and down the lineup. It’s a big time problem when over half of the forwards are generating almost literally nothing offensively.

Is it All-Star break yet? Nope, one more game Tuesday against the rival Capitals, who have been off since Friday. The Pens look like they’re ready for a break, but still have to answer the bell one more time.