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Penguins/Rangers Recap: Pittsburgh shutout in Thanksgiving Eve loss

New York only scores one goal, but that ends up being enough in a 1-0 victory over another dull night for the Penguins’ power play

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Pregame

The Penguins change up all of their top three forward lines for the first time in a long time to deal with the injuries to Rickard Rakell and Bryan Rust. John Ludvig is back on defense for his second game of the season.

First period

Pittsburgh starts out OK; first the Evgeni Malkin line gets some chances and then the next time on the ice Sidney Crosby’s group does too. But it’s the Rangers with the first goal, a Ryan Graves turnover leads to Alexis Lafreniere alone on a breakaway and he dekes backhand and goes bar down on Tristan Jarry. 1-0 Blueshirts.

Pittsburgh gets two power plays in the period, the latter being completely frustrating and a waste of everyone’s time. The first was kinda like that too, until Vinnie Hinostroza scored off a freaky play where Jonathan Quick’s glove fell off and he was more interested in buying a whistle instead of playing for some reason.

...BUT, the Rangers’ video crew had that flagged right away because Alex Nylander was clearly off-side at the blueline. No goal.

Shots in the first were 15-9 NYR.

Second period

Pretty lousy middle frame for every Penguin not named Tristan Jarry. Ludvig take a cross-check penalty to start the Rangers’ territorial domination, they don’t score but it’s a sign of things to come with the ice getting tilted in their favor.

Shots are 17-8 NYR in the second, but thanks to Jarry the Pens stick within one shot of tying this game that they haven’t shown a lot of life during in the first 40 minutes.

Third period

Story of the game here, Quick (as he has been all season really) has set the clocks back a decade and keeping the puck out for whatever Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel throw his way.

The Pens get a power play and it’s again brutal. Erik Karlsson has to take a penalty to likely prevent Chris Kreider from scoring on the rush shorthanded, but ending a power play early for Pittsburgh is not a bad sight to see at all right now.

Jacob Trouba flips the puck over the glass and we’re subjected to another two minutes of frustration known as the Penguin power play, perhaps highlighted by Nick Bonino blocking shot attempts from Karlsson and Evgeni Malkin in rapid succession.

One more opportunity with 8:50 left when Barclay Goodrow sat for two minutes for the Pens’ power play. Crosby redirected a Guentzel shot attempt off the crossbar and out of play which is something, but it’s not a goal.

Karlsson goes back to the box with only 2:43 left, which makes comeback hopes difficult. Pittsburgh kills it off, Malkin feeds Crosby with 11 seconds left but the puck hits Quick’s arm.

Pens call their timeout. Goalie is pulled. No dice.

Wasn’t a bad period for the Pens, threw 15 shots on goal but Quick had an answer for ‘em all. So ends the night.

Some thoughts

  • Little things like effort, attention to detail and hockey IQ can be so important for player on the make-or-break line. Gah, Alex Nylander. Just can’t lazily drift offside in the first period and take a goal off the board. For a player that needs every little thing to go right to make his case, that’s not a great first impression.
  • If you watch the replay again, Mika Zibanejad as the F3 sitting back was just hoping and baiting Ryan Graves into making that pass attempt up that led to the first goal. That kind of quick transition stuff has been an NYR staple for a while now but looks better than ever with the defensive structure of a coach like Peter Laviolette well known for such wrinkles.
  • The second period felt like the first time since the Dallas game where the Penguins were just not as good as the opponent. Even against recent losses to Carolina and New Jersey, it was competitive action for the most part. Tonight? Not so much.
  • The power play is just so bad, who knows where to start on an 0-for-5 night that let them down big time yet again. What they can’t do is pretty much everything right now. They can’t win faceoffs. They can’t get zone entries. They make bad decisions on where to pass. When they do get shot attempts it’s usually with plenty of opponents in shooting lanes and no chance of getting it through. Terrible, and there doesn’t look like there’s any solutions coming from the bench or the players on the ice.
  • And yet, right down to the wire they till had a chance. Very clutch situational goaltending from Jarry. Moneypuck had the Rangers with 3.16 expected goals. They only got one. Which means Pittsburgh only needed to find one in 60 minutes to get to overtime and get a point in the standings. Couldn’t do it.
  • One of the reasons they couldn’t do it was that only 42% of the Pens’ shot attempts ended up as shots on goal. Brutal stuff. Pittsburgh had 32 shots, but the Rangers blocked 26 more. And the Pens missed the target 18 times. Gotta be more accurate and actually find shooting lanes and not end sequences with a miss or blocked shot. Way too much of that, especially from the big guy (Karlsson had 7 shots block, Malkin 4, Letang 4; Crosby with a massive 7 missed. No good).

Ugly game for the Pens, couldn’t