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Penguins/Canadiens Recap: Pens lose see-saw game in OT

The winning streak is over, but Pittsburgh gets a point out of the game in Montreal

Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images


An illness bumps Filip Hallander out from last game and gets Kasperi Kapanen a jersey. Tristan Jarry is back in net for the second half of the back-to-back as the Penguins roll out for another road game.

First period

The Canadiens break the ice and get on the board just 1:48 into the game. Josh Anderson wheels around to his forehand side and shoots from deep, there’s a little traffic in front to deal with, but it’s not an encouraging start for Jarry. 1-0 MTL early.

Playing a third game in four days, the Pens don’t look very fresh in the early going. Sidney Crosby heads off to the penalty box on a tripping call, but Pittsburgh kills Montreal’s advantage. Otherwise the rest of this period happened, without much going down.

Shots in the first were 7-4 in favor of the Canadiens.

Second period

The Pens start the period on a power play and it looks really bad...until it scores with 14 seconds left. Former Hab Jeff Petry is just trying to center the puck from behind the net for Jason Zucker, but bad luck strikes for Montreal when Jake Evans redirects it into the net to tie the game at 1-1 early in the second period.

Less than two minutes later in the game, there’s another good luck bounce for Pittsburgh. A Montreal clearing attempt from behind the net inadvertently clacks off a ref’s skate and right to Evgeni Malkin. Malkin accepts the gift and quickly passes it back where Marcus Pettersson gets to the puck. Pettersson takes a shot that Rickard Rakell tips past a helpless Jake Allen, and suddenly the Pens find themselves lucky to be in the lead at 2-1 just 3:29 into the second frame.

Jan Rutta takes two separate trips to the penalty box, but nothing comes of it and the rest of the period plays out. Jarry settles in and plays a lot better as the game goes on, the Canadiens have a 19-8 edge in shots in the second period.

Third period

The trend this weekend has been goals early/late in periods and that continues in the third. Montreal strikes with Cole Caufield shooting from distance and finding the back of the net. But not so fast my friend, Mike Sullivan challenges. Kirby Dach has his skate in the crease but with contact from Marcus Pettersson appears to bump Jarry, a challenge is issue. The contact is marginal and somewhat incidental from Pettersson, but Dach also is in the crease.

The refs don’t see it Sullivan’s way (for a change on challenges) and the goal stands and the game is tied at 2-2. Worse yet, the Pens go to the box for failing on the challenge.

Pittsburgh kills the penalty and after Evgeni Malkin makes a few mistakes, he swoops into the frame from out of no where to convert a Jason Zucker pass and putsit in the net, because that’s just how it’s going for Malkin (and Zucker) right now. The lead is re-established at 3-2 Pens.

The Pittsburgh lead only last 50 seconds this time. After some d-zone mayhem, Nick Suzuki finds the puck on the door-step and smacks it home to tie the game back at 3.

Things get chippy, matching minors take it to 4v4 and then 3v3 and Jeff Carters uses the extra space to step up and skate the puck all the way down the ice and feed Brock McGinn a goal for a third straight game to once again push the Pens out in front.

This time the lead only lasts 40 seconds, as Jan Rutta inexplicably loses all semblance of control on Sean Monahan and it’s another easy tap in to tie the game at 4. Call Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu all over again!


Fairly early on, the Habs end it to get the win. Dach breaks out on a 2-on-1 and passes over for Mike Hoffman. It looks like Hoffman is running out of room for an angle at the net, but somehow is able to lift the puck past Jarry and end the game.

Some thoughts

  • Winning streak is over, but getting a point out of a third road game in four days? While being out-shot 42-24? Gotta take it and run. A 2-0-1 road trip was just what the doctor ordered for the Pens.
  • Three assists on the night for Jason Zucker, who is clicking right now big time. Great to see him healthy and having a chance to show what he can do.
  • Nice to see Rakell get in the mix too with a goal and an assist tonight. Doesn’t really feel like he’s found his footing this year, hasn’t played poorly but hasn’t been a huge factor during games.
  • Jan Rutta isn’t overly physical, but his calling card is size, strength and keeping the front of the net in check. He’s failed on that several times, and reminding why he is a third pair player.
  • With Hallander sick, the Pens had no other forwards but Kapanen to play. He got barely more than seven minutes, his customary one shot on goal and very little impact. It wasn’t a big opportunity to make a positive impression, but it was another night where he might as well just not played at all...Which will probably happen in the next game.
  • But while luxury pieces and decisions like Rutta and Kapanen aren’t paying dividends right now, McGinn is playing some of his finest hockey of the season. He’s not always going to impress, but his end of season stat-line is always very consistent. And he’s pitching in right now.
  • This was the second game in a row where the top line was very meh. Each of Guentzel, Crosby and Rust managed one shot on goal. None made a big impact. Just didn’t look like they had their legs going on this trip.
  • Either Jarry was dealing with a minor illness or injury and was skipped over earlier in the week, or the Pens just aren’t happy with his play and chose to leave him out of games. Tonight was an odd game in general, and an odd game for Jarry too. He wasn’t sharp, especially earlier on that Anderson goal. But Jarry was very good in the second period. Later on, the defense didn’t get him much of a chance on some of those third period goals. No matter how you slice it, the goalie situation still looks fairly cloudy right now with Jarry not in the best form be it physically or mentally, and the team probably not exceedingly confident in him at the moment either.
  • Given NHL officiating inconsistencies, you never know what might happen on goal challenges, but this one tonight was over-eager by Sullivan. It’s the first one he’s lost in the last 12 reviews, so you can understand his aggressiveness to try and help the team, but each scenario is different. The Pens could probably use the reset and reminder that for goalie interference, you probably would like to see a little more impeding by the opponent and also that any hints of contact from the defender will wipe out if a goal was on the ice. Live and learn, not the worst idea, but ideally a challenge would be used on a play a little more blatant or with a better case to actually win in the review.
  • The Pens’ top power play really needs a set play or idea to put in motion with what they want to accomplish. It’s far too freelance, and nothing is getting done as a result. This is perhaps been a problem for a long time, but is really rearing its head right now. Coaching needs to address and give a lot more direction with entries, setup, movement, shot selection, pretty much everything. They need some fresh ideas and need them yesterday.

Overall, with what had to be not a lot of gas left in the tank, the Pens couldn’t make it a clean sweep on the road but at least get a point out of it. Losing is never ideal, but getting something for the standings is a very big plus. Now a well-earned few days of rest before a home game on Tuesday against Toronto.