It’s a familiar lineup for the Penguins, who keep the same combinations and players from Thursday night’s season opening win.
#LetsGoPens pic.twitter.com/ZHSz94g8F6— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 15, 2022
Jeff Petry takes a trip to the penalty box and the Lightning’s best players make the Pens play. Victor Hedman feeds Tampa captain Steven Stamkos. Even from the top of the left circle he has more than enough power to rifle the shot past Tristan Jarry It serves as already Stammer’s fourth goal of the young season coming just 4:10 into the game.
What time is it?? pic.twitter.com/Cuugpa6l8t— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) October 15, 2022
Playing on back-to-back nights and a third game in four days, Tampa is in no hurry to pressure the Pens early. They sit back and clog up the neutral zone, with no forecheck to speak of and playing content to try and bog up the ice for Pittsburgh as much as possible. That doesn’t last forever, and in a blink, the Pens catch Hedman pinching down and spring against the Lightning on a counter-attack.
Jake Guentzel jumps up the ice on a 2-on-1 with Sidney Crosby, which are the absolute last players TB needs to see in this situation. The duo converts (duh) with Guentzel saucing a beautiful pass over a sliding defender, then Crosby masterfully dekes to his backhand and tucks the puck past his frequent nemesis Brian Elliott to tie the game at 1.
POV: You're in the crowd at PPG Paints Arena and Sid is still doing Sid things in his 18th NHL season. #NHLFaceOff pic.twitter.com/x1ZDdqxOId— NHL (@NHL) October 15, 2022
Shots in the first end up 12-10 in favor of the Pens.
Early in the second period, Danton Heinen stayed hot and added his first goal of the season on the power play. Jason Zucker made some nice effort plays, the puck was hopping around like crazy, but eventually found it’s way to Heinen. With Elliott scrambling to get back into position, Heinen reared back and fired a wrister into the net for a 2-1 lead for his Pens’ team.
BOUNCING.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2022
BOUNCING EVEN MORE.
LITERALLY THE PERFECT POWER-PLAY SHOT. pic.twitter.com/zrbnb5qnB7
Shots in the second ended up 17-9 in favor of the Pens.
The Pens stretch their lead to 3-1 off an offensive zone draw. Kris Letang fires from the point and Jake Guentzel puts a little tip on the puck to set off the red light.
An assist on the Crosby goal.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2022
An assist to @armdog on the broadcast.
And now a goal of his own.
Jake Guentzel is on fire! pic.twitter.com/7POxkr6BdC
Pittsburgh stays hungry and converts on another goal. Kasperi Kapanen makes a nice centering pass, and it looks like Elliott over-extends on his again with a big lateral movement to match Jeff Carter. The wily veteran throws a puck low and to the far-side that ends up just inside of the post to bring the Pens up to a 4-1 lead.
Count it! Four Penguins goals!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2022
: Crosby, Heinen, Guentzel, Carter
: Guentzel, Dumoulin, Carter, Zucker, Letang, Crosby, Kapanen, Joseph pic.twitter.com/KROIDRindX
Bryan Rust would strike for his second goal in as many games this season on the power play. After Crosby moonwalked back around the blue line, the shot came in for Rust to deflect in for a power play goal and a 5-1 Pittsburgh lead.
Two power-play goals and two big points. pic.twitter.com/rtaeQdmDNa— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2022
Only 30 seconds later, Tampa wouldn’t go away and Brayden Point took a cross ice pass and buried it past Tristan Jarry to bring the Lightning back to 5-2 with just under six minutes left in the game.
The ever-aggressive Jon Cooper pulls his goalie with plenty of time left to see if they could draw even closer, but it backfired. Rickard Rakell intercepted a pass from out of the TB zone and finished the game off with an empty net goal to set the final score as a 6-2 win.
- The Pens still had Evgeni Malkin taking power play faceoffs and Sidney Crosby lined up at the point. Players said yesterday it was to mix things up since all the video has Crosby taking faceoffs, but it’s been working especially since Malkin has been doing his part to win faceoffs early this year, surprisingly enough.
- On Guentzel’s goal, Jake was the one taking the faceoff on the left side too, which Sid came over and cleaned up back to the point for Kris Letang to fire back to the net and Guentzel to tip in. It’s certainly a wrinkle paying off for the Pens right now to move Crosby around a little bit at the start of plays.
- So far the schedule makers have been kind to Pittsburgh: Arizona to start the season, then Tampa in a third game in four days and playing Brian Elliott? Hey, gotta take it where you can get it. Didn’t look like the Lightning had a lot of legs left tonight after traveling into town late last night.
- Steven Stamkos has a great reputation, especially recently with playoff heroics and a pair of Stanley Cups — but is he under-rated? Tonight was goal No. 485 and point 976 and he’s only 32-years old. He’s probably going to get 600+ goals and 1300+ points, easily, before it’s all said and done, yet in the age of Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as first overall picks taking up so much oxygen it feels like even a Cup winner and elite player like Stamkos might not be getting talked about as much as he should be, for how good that he is.
- In two games to start the season, Crosby and Guentzel have 10 points between them. When they have the puck, it’s almost unfair for the other team, the chances they are generating and also finishing is just something to behold right now. High quality stuff.
- Why no team out there couldn’t pony up to give Danton Heinen a half decent contract offer this summer is totally beyond me. Not flashy, but super effective. Also up to three points now on the season, can he top his total of 33 points from last year? Wouldn’t be surprising..
- Evgeni Malkin only found the scoresheet tonight on a secondary power play assist, but it wasn’t a reflection of his play for being a quiet night. Geno had eight total shot attempts (four on net), three takeaways (four giveaway though for full disclosure), two blocked shots, positive night in the faceoff circle. As those giveaway/takeaway numbers illustrate - when Malkin is on his game and playing well, he’s often in control of the puck or hunting it down. He definitely was super active in that regard.
- Nice night on special teams, the power play nets two goals and after giving up the Stamkos goal the Pittsburgh PK killed three straight Tampa penalties over the rest of the way.
The Pens put two more points in their pocket and keep the momentum rolling. With six goals in each of the first two games, the offense is rolling and the skilled players are doing plenty of damage when they get the puck on their sticks in the offensive zone.
The season rolls on with the first road game of the year coming up in Montreal on Monday night.