It’s all about the Evgeni Malkin 1,000th game celebration early on. No. 71 jerseys for everyone, lots of video tributes for the man of the hour.
The Penguins are fired up after all the Malkin love and how could they not be? Just 2:09 into the game, Jeff Carter finds no less than Jan Rutta jumping up in the play and Rutta slips a shot by Daniel Vladar. Also shoutout Flames for not playing Jacob Markstrom tonight.
A strong start for a strong team pic.twitter.com/77FzwA5Y6q— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 24, 2022
Bryan Rust scores off a Malkin pass - but wait Calgary challenges. For good reason, as it turns out Jason Zucker was quite a bit off-side so the goal will not stand and the score remains 1-0 Pens.
A couple of penalties go either way, no other scoring happens. 10-8 shots for Pittsburgh.
Extremely back and forth period with each team springing some chances in both directions. Calgary traps the Pens’ in their end for a long time, poor Marcus Pettersson is on the far side from the bench and on the long change gets trapped on the ice for almost three minutes. It’s the recipe for disaster, and then there’s disaster when Rutta can’t clear the zone. Chris Tanev takes a shot, Dillon Dube gets the tip on it and the puck bounces off the ice and by Tristan Jarry to make it a 1-1 game.
The Pens hang in there, somehow the shot sheet is about equal on the game, feels like Calgary has owned the puck and been handling it in the Pens’ end for 75% of the night so far. They haven’t been that dominant, but it’s felt that way.
Jeff Carter gets a breakaway but Vladar stops him.
With 6:39 left, Calgary gets another power play when Malkin blatantly trips Tyler Toffoli in front of the Flames’ net. The Pens kill it off again.
Rickard Rakell has a chance to put Pittsburgh ahead with just over two minutes left, but his shot rings off the cross-bar and stays out.
Calgary controls the puck early, but the Penguins get it back. Crosby drives to the net and gets hooked drawing a two-minute penalty with 2:12 left in the game. The Pens keep it all in the zone and have a
Nazem Kadri goes first for the Flames, he loses the puck on the backhand deke attempt.
Rakell is the first to go for Pittsburgh. He goes back against the grain and rips in a shot on Vladar.
Jonathan Huberdeau is up for Calgary, his quick shot low on Jarry is in and out before the netminder even budges. All square.
Crosby for the Pens, scores high glove.
Pressure is on for Rasmus Andersson, he also scores low on Jarry. Tied back up.
Jake Guentzel is next, no dice.
Top of the fourth, Mikael Backlund goes for the Flames, Jarry stops him.
Stage is set for Evgeni Malkin to win it on the night he has been celebrated. You already know what happens next.
- Typical game against a Darryl Sutter team: tough, hard to get to scoring areas. Nothing came easy.
- Josh Archibald at times looks like a little kid playing against his big brothers when he’s throwing the body around recklessly. He’s trying, doesn’t always seem to do a lot, but it’s not for a lack of enthusiasm. Four official hits in 8:57 played, but I think he could have had even a few more than that.
- Zucker was clearly off-side, but the goal had nothing to do with Zucker. A double edged sword to be sure. The Pens are probably the last team that should be complaining about an off-side video review taking a goal away, given their successful history in enforcing the rules, but overall I wouldn’t mind if off-side reviews (on non-Daniel Briere breakaway type plays where the off-side directly causes the goal scorer to score) could somehow be legislated in.
- Great night for Rakell, who continues to be a very visible and dangerous player with the puck in the offensive zone. He was a little unlucky not to have had a point or two, and at least caught a shootout goal to get something out of the evening.
- Nice game again by Jarry, who was strong and only beaten in regulation by a point-blank excellent deflection. The Pens needed him to be that good.
- How great was it to see Malkin’s shoulder shrug, backhand deke and then elevate the puck from in close directly to the top of the net? Shoo mercy, that’s still an elite offensive move. On this night, it should have ended no other way.
The Pens travel to Philly tomorrow for the first game of the season against the Flyers, and then have to get back to Pittsburgh quickly for Saturday night’s game against Toronto. Get ready for some more holiday weekend Pens hockey!