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Pens/Sens Recap: Guentzel’s two goals gets Pittsburgh past Ottawa

Jason Zucker scores yet again, Jake Guentzel does twice and Pittsburgh gets a win over Ottawa this wek

NHL: JAN 20 Senators at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Big changes for the Penguins, who welcome back Jeff Petry and Tristan Jarry from the injured reserve and back into the lineup. Petry’s return shuffles the pairings and pushes Ty Smith to become a scratch. Up front, an injury from last game has knocked Kasperi Kapanen out and gives Danton Heinen another chance to play.

But in warmups, Bryan Rust is without a helmet and takes a puck to the forehead area. Pittsburgh only has 12 healthy forwards, so Rust stays on the lineup sheet, despite not being ready to play at the start of the game. He’s patched up and ready to go by the second shift.

Here’s Ottawa’s lineup, they get P.O Joseph’s brother Mathieu in tonight and make the move to stick with Cam Talbot again in the net.

First period

Fairly quiet game until Brock McGinn rocks Erik Brannstrom with a big hit behind the net. Partner Travis Hamonic sticks up for his guy, which OK but clean hit, weird flex pal and gets rung up after the fight for a misconduct and two minute minor.

On the ensuing power play, the Pens make the Senators pay. Jeff Petry’s back and manning PP1, his point shot is tipped by Jake Guentzel in front. Talbot stops that but as a result the rebound clicks out for Rickard Rakell to knock into the net. 1-0 Pittsburgh takes the lead.

Next shift it’s Jason Zucker doing Jason Zucker things, skating like his hair is on fire, getting in on the forecheck, creating mayhem, turning the puck over and quickly coming out from behind the net to backhand it in past Talbot. 2-0 Pens score twice in 43 seconds.

Shots in the first are 14-12 in favor of the Penguins.

Second period

Austin Watson punches Mark Friedman directly in the face after a whistle (he tends to have that kind of effect on people) and the Pens are back to a second power play.

Ottawa gets their first power play as the game nears half over, the Penguins kill it off.

Bryan Rust gets his legs under him and skates the puck all the way in. Guentzel finds a way to slip behind the Ottawa defense and Rust feeds him a nice pass. Guentzel takes it from there. 3-0 Pens.

Ottawa isn’t going away, after a Pens’ rush can’t score, the Sens take it the other way. Tim Stutzle fires on net, Jarry stops it but everyone is out of whack as Crosby and Marcus Pettersson slide into the crease. Brady Tkachuk has enough time to settle the puck and throw it into the mass of humanity with the two Pittsburgh players and goalie in the crease. It hits Pettersson and goes in, Ottawa gets on the board 3-1.

Shots in the second are 18-14 in favor of the Penguins.

Third period

Marcus Pettersson has to get his stick up and hook Tkachuk to deny a scoring chance in the first minute of the third, and the Senators get a power play as a result. Pittsburgh kills it off.

On a rush, Crosby feeds Guentzel and goes to the net. Guentzel was going to return the favor, but an Ottawa player steals Crosby’s goal by tipping it in his own net on accident. Credit for Guentzel’s second of the game to help the Pens get to 4-1.

The Joseph boys end up colliding, and it’s P.O’s stick that got high and clipped his brother but somehow both brothers end up in the penalty box for coincidental minor penalties when Mathieu catches blame for his younger brother. Some things never change, eh?

The Sens also catch a bad break when there’s a quick whistle by the ref who loses track of an uncovered puck prior to Brady Tkachuk depositing it in the net. This gets Friedman worked up so he and Tkachuk have a go of things.

That’s the end of the notable events, the Pens skate away with a win.

Some thoughts

  • One game after Mike Sullivan justifiably vented about the officiating (in part, calling the tenor of the Pens taking nine penalties “ridiculous), Pittsburgh only were called for one penalties that resulted in three Ottawa power plays, and all ones that pretty much couldn’t be avoided. Could it be different ref crews? Cleaner game by the Pens? Yes and yes, but it’s also an example of working the system 101. Few are better at playing that “game within the game” than Sullivan, who also got a quick whistle to wash out a Tkachuk third period goal and Mathieu Joseph take a minor penalty for nothing more than getting hit in the face. (Some of this could very much be basic NHL refs blowing calls, no doubt).
  • It was Jeff Petry’s first game in over a month, obvious and natural rust issues to get back up to a high level of play — but it felt really good to just see a veteran professional top-four NHL defender again. Whether it was little plays like seemingly effortlessly wiping out a 3-on-2 rush, or firing pucks up the ice to break out with possession, he’s been missed.
  • Same with Jarry. He looked calm, sharp and like he hadn’t missed a beat after an 18 day injury absence. And with no offense to the other goalies, there’s just a different level that Jarry is at. One doesn’t have to hold their breath on every shot as if it could end up in the back of the net. 46 saves, welcome back Jars! No more leaving!
  • And what else can you say about Jason Zucker at this point? He’s playing with maximum effort, he’s hootin’ and hollerin’ for McGinn when he gets out of the penalty box. Just so much heart and emotion that he’s pouring into the team during the games. The goals are going in (he’s now up to seven in his last 11 games) and everything is just going his way.
  • It hasn’t been going Jake Guentzel’s way late, but he might be working on that. Guentzel took an Ottawa clearing attempt right off the jaw in the second period, but luckily came out of it no worse for wear. And Bryan Rust took that puck to the head in warmups and an ugly cross-check during the game, he made a great zone entry on the Guentzel goal. Those two are key players that Pittsburgh could use to get going a little bit more. Wonderful to see some signs of life, even if it they paid a painful price to do so.
  • Two fights in the same game? Wow. Scrappy one, probably something to be said for scheduling home-and-home series to get the temperature up a bit. By the end of tonight’s games these two teams were certainly tired of one another.
  • No more thoughts on the game tonight, even though I always end up writing more than intended in attempts to provide the best coverage possible. That’s always been our way. Unfortunately, as you may have seen, all but six NHL blogs on our network are being shuttered soon. Through our great community we have built PensBurgh to the No. 2 hockey blog in network, which I always thought would carry us if tough times ever hit, but that illusion was shattered since the powers that be pulled the plug on the No. 1 hockey website (and No. 3, 4 and so many other top performing and/or great content blogs, or even legacy blogs that have existed since SBN did in the late 2000’s). The remaining hockey blogs that will continue on (PensBurgh included) were seemingly picked at random with no apparent rhyme or reason, but for how long or what the future holds, we remain very much unsure. Who’s to say what the next decision coming from high could be or the long-term potential for an area of the company that just cut 26/34 blogs and laid off a dedicated and very, very strong employee/leader in Steph Driver. Then again, I guess I could get hit by a bus tomorrow so who knows. But I do know that no matter what, it’s been fun and in some form I think and hope this community will indeed keep going on some platform or another for a long time to come, because of the the amount of interest, the bonds formed and shared and the strong sense of community that has been built by the millions of readers a year to the hundreds of people that fill the game threads and comments section to my extremely talented and dedicated staff that consistently provides a level of timely and insightful news and commentary about the Penguins that I would proudly stack up against anyone, anytime (if I do say so myself). Something that powerful, I can promise, is not going to be broken by budgetary decisions from a corporate entity, it’s gained too much steam and momentum. So bookmark or follow my personal twitter in case the lights go out unexpectedly (and it would be unexpected for us right now). It looks like and we’re hopeful that this will remain our home with business as much as usual as it can be for at least the rest of the season. Anyways, we’ll go on the best we can and see what happens moving forward, thank you for indulging. I honestly don’t really like talking about back office items and things that aren’t pertinent to the focus we have, but given the gravity of the news that broke today, I also felt the responsibility to share what I know, as well as what remains up in the air or at least not shared with me right now. You’ve earned that by being so loyal and helping us get here, so if we don’t say it enough, thanks for that.

With that said, the next game up is on Sunday afternoon against the Devils. Massively important game for the Penguins.