Chad Ruhwedel is back in the lineup after a healthy scratch last time out, otherwise the Penguins are using the same players.
Tonight's lines vs. Colorado ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/5ehpzKc9Th— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 26, 2023
Evgeni Malkin continues his strong play by dancing up the middle of the ice and forcing Nathan MacKinnon to hack at him. The Pens’ power play has extreme difficulties getting into the zone and setting up - but they catch a break. Rickard Rakell whiffs on a pass as he’s being pushed, but the puck slowly bounces off an Avalanche player and to the intended target anyways. Reilly Smith blasts the puck to the top shelf and it’s 1-0 Pittsburgh just 4:40 into the game.
REILLY SMITH GOES UPSTAIRS AND THE PENGUINS STRIKE FIRST! pic.twitter.com/gWYPLJ62Ic— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 26, 2023
Ryan Shea goes to the penalty box to give Colorado their first power play of the night, the Pens kill it off.
Malkin and Smith team up more directly for the second time to get on the board again. This time, on an odd-man rush, Geno holds, holds, holds and finally passes over for Smith to finish into the open net. 2-0 Pens.
That Malkin-Smith connection is a thing of beauty pic.twitter.com/vKqxrG5kn0— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 26, 2023
Great start for the Pens. Shots are 9-5, and Radim Zohorna hit a post straight on too, which doesn’t count towards anything.
The game is revolving around Malkin tonight. The forward goes to the box twice (for a total of 6 PIMs) in the second. The Pens kill ‘em all off in the middle frame, including a diving, stick-less effort by Bryan Rust to clear the zone in the last minute. Before Pittsburgh got to that point, they added a third goal. The long stick of Zohorna knocked free a puck for an easy chip in for Lars Eller.
What's better than scoring your first goal as a Penguin against your former team? pic.twitter.com/GqEoO1DrGQ— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 27, 2023
Tristan Jarry was down in the muck and battling away. After breaking/losing his stick he got a hand-off for Kris Letang but used his glove for a snazzy stop.
It’s a three goal lead, but even more importantly the Penguins look like they built some momentum and confidence after being battle-tested late in the period and thriving off their efforts in the last 3.5 minutes of the period while killing off Malkin’s double minor for high-sticking.
Pittsburgh takes care of the Malkin penalty carry-over, but the Avs get a fifth straight power play in the game when Noel Acciari catches some bad luck to accidentally knock a puck over the glass. One more kill takes care of business made possible by a world class Jarry save.
Finally and seemingly rarely back at 5v5, the Pens add a fourth goal. Jake Guentzel makes a great play to intercept Colorado trying to come out of the zone. Guentzel hits Sidney Crosby with a pass and the captain takes it from there, whipping a shot past Georgiev. 4-0
At the following TV timeout, the Avs decide to give Georgiev the rest of the night off.
Not too much else goes down, Pittsburgh gets a last minute power play but goes into hockey’s version of the victory formation by not even bothering to send out their top players for it.
- Zohorna has had a few flashes here and there to become an intriguing player, but this is the best he’s been in his career. His skating and motor is noticeably improved from the past. His reach and ability to disrupt has always been good but seems to have been enhanced by having better legs these days. If he can keep up the high level of play he’s established this week coming back to the NHL, he’ll be contributing to the team in a major way.
- Speaking of contributing, that Reilly Smith is just a professional scorer. I suppose in a literal sense they all are, but Smith is so sound and proficient offensively. A joy to watch a player that good.
- I’m sure Malkin had better stretches in his absolute prime and peak as a younger player, but boy, he is playing incredible to start this season. He’s all over the puck, his legs look fantastic to carry him around the ice. As always with Geno playing hard, that can sometimes mean going to far and taking penalties, but that’s a trade-off to take when he’s flying around and creating so much.
- Soak up some joy from the Pens’ finishing for once: they chased the NHL’s reigning second star of the week with four goals on just 24 shots. Don’t see that every day.
- As mentioned on the broadcast, Colorado hadn’t trailed by more than a goal during games this season. They also had not lost a game before tonight. Well, they trailed by 2+ goals for more than 43 minutes tonight and took their first L.
- And the Pens break up the longest road winning streak in NHL history by beating Colorado tonight 4-0. Read that previous sentence again.
- Jarry was tremendous. Kind of odd this year he has two wins, both shutouts. With two shutouts in five games this season, Jarry’s already matched his total there from the entire 2022-23 season in the shutout department.
- Ryan Shea didn’t get an assist on Smith’s second goal, but his play in his own end to help facilitate the breakout is exactly why he’s in the NHL lineup these days. Subtle, little plays like that are what is driving his value.
- The power play only getting one early chance in this game doesn’t feel so bad (not even counting the last 35 seconds when the stars weren’t out there). They’re making nothing of it anyways, might as well not waste time and bring the team down with failing on it right now.
- On the other hand, the penalty kill helped to win the game for the Pens with a 5/5 night and several clutch shot blocks, saves, clears. Group looked great.
Solid win for the Pens, who ease a little of the panic surrounding their choppy start to the season with a quality win in a very convincing fashion.