The Penguins biggest challenge against the St. Louis Blues might have been just overcoming their mistakes right off the bat. Only nine seconds into the game, Kris Letang was already skating to the penalty box after flipping the puck over the glass and over the glass for a delay of game. 24 seconds later, Jeff Carter was joining him in the box after getting a stick up into the face of a Blue.
The Pens killed off a long 3v5 situation and didn’t fall behind early. In fact, they would get on the board first. Jeff Carter won a draw in the o-zone and Marcus Pettersson laid a pass of for the suddenly hot Chad Ruhwedel to hammer home past Ville Husso and open the scoring at 14:42 into the first period.
Ruhwedel to Potash after being asked about hitting a career-high in goals this season: "Just trying to move up the record books is all." pic.twitter.com/GTM1kaoCAV— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 18, 2022
As the Pens built on a dominant second period, Mike Matheson scored to extend it 2-0 on the rush and super on the move from a tight angle to blow a shot by Husso.
The Math(eson) is simple.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 18, 2022
Marino + Kapanen + Matheson = goals pic.twitter.com/QnA1HZFtbI
Everything was going Pittsburgh’s way in the second, shots were 11-1 in the middle frame at one point. But St. Louis stayed close when David Perron dipped a shoulder and skated right around Matheson off and then lifted the puck over Tristan Jarry following a deke to the forehand.
It felt like a big missed chance that despite being so great through 40, the Pens were only up by a goal. Early in the third, they weren’t up at all. The Blues scored following a faceoff when Brandon Saad went around Ruhwedel and then Pettersson didn’t have his played boxed out well in front of the net and Ivan Barbashev had an easy tap in for a goal, following a nice pass from Saad. 2-2 game.
That goal would keep the teams even until the end of regulation, and even the end of the overtime session. It would take a shootout to decide the winner.
Even the shootout would take extra time, since neither of the team’s first three shooters managed to score a goal. Bryan Rust would finally close the game out, sniping Husso to give Pittsburgh the win.
- It’s funny (like “sad funny”, not “ha ha funny”) that the Pens’ scored the first two goals mainly because of the play of three defensemen: Ruhwedel and Pettersson on the first, Matheson on the second. And the two goals they gave up in regulation you can look right back at Matheson for the first one and Ruhwedel and Pettersson on the second. In the defender’s credit, at least they actually were contributing to goals for the team, unlike the forwards.
- Another dreadful night for the Pittsburgh power play, going 0/4 on the night. The fourth power play was by far the best one of the game and generated some real scoring chances, but those guys are paid to score. They didn’t. In a tie game in the third period of a game that goes to OT, that hurts.
- John Marino wasn’t among the defenders who scored, but was moving his feet and has been playing with a lot more authority lately. He’s been standing out a lot more recently, and for the better. If it continues, he’s likely to be rewarded soon, really seeing some encouraging signs out of his play recently.
- The 3v3 OT was one of the most exciting 5 minutes of the Pens’ season. Lots of end-to-end action, some great goaltending to stop nice shots. Lots of skating and action.
- The Pittsburgh forwards just can’t buy a goal right now. After this week, if I don’t see a Finnish goalie again, it won’t be too soon.
- Remember when Tristan Jarry sucked at shootouts early in the season and everyone was acting like it was the end of the world and some huge flaw? After four Blues players failed to score on him tonight that feels like a loooong time ago and another reminder that goaltending goes up and down and isn’t as bad as it seems when times aren’t good, it’ll come back around eventually. (Might have to apply this logic also to the Pittsburgh forwards).
- On one hand, Evgeni Malkin had eight shots on goal and stood out a bit firing the puck. Didn’t get on the scoresheet again, and his third period penalty was a troubling sign. Uneven night for him.
- Notre Dame alum Bryan Rust seals the deal on St. Patrick’s Day? Can’t write a script better than that, baby!
The Pens get to 1-1-0 on this road trip, and after a 45-25 shot advantage in this game, they deserved the win and taking two points. They’ll look to finish the trip out right against suddenly resurgent Arizona, who are playing like a team with nothing to lose as of late. Won’t be easy, but should be fun out in the desert on Saturday.