The Penguins make two non-injury related lineup changes. Jeff Carter finally gets healthy scratched, and Chad Ruhwedel joins him. That means the first game since October 18th for P.O Joseph.
Early on, Anthony Duclair (not even a former Erik Karlsson teammate) welcomes Karlsson back to San Jose by pushing him around a little too much for the ref’s liking. Pittsburgh gets an early power play, and an early power play goal. It’s Reilly Smith wiring a top shelf shot in from distance past Mackenzie Blackwood to make it a 1-0 game just 90 seconds into the contest.
It only took 1 minute and 30 seconds for Reilly Smith to give Pittsburgh the lead in San Jose! pic.twitter.com/csgLP3l5tA— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
Tristan Jarry steps up to provide a key save and the rush goes the other way and the Pens pick him up by adding to their lead. Some nice passes (and Marcus Pettersson activating deep!) end up with Smith on the doorstep to notch his second goal of the contest. 2-0 Pittsburgh.
Reilly Smith: 2— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
San Jose Sharks: 0 pic.twitter.com/Ok74EHahTK
The Pens get in some penalty trouble, Jake Guentzel takes a trip to the box and then 1:09 later Pettersson follows him to cede the Sharks some 5v3 time. They...don’t look good, but credit to the Pittsburgh PK just the same for getting through it.
Shots are 9-8 SJ after one, but Smith’s big period has Pittsburgh out in front 2-0.
Two quick strikes double the Pens’ lead. First, Bryan Rust races down the wing and centers for Guentzel to notch his 200th career goal from right in front of the net. 3-0.
ELITE. COMPANY.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
With this tally, Guentzel becomes the 8th player in franchise history to notch 200 goals. Guentzel joins Lemieux, Crosby, Malkin, Jagr, Pronovost, Kehoe, and Stevens as the only players to accomplish such a feat with Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/64HR0ZtDH0
Just 1:05 later, the fourth line finally produces their first goal of the season. Noel Acciari get in on the forecheck behind the Sharks’ net. The puck bounces over to Vinnie Hinostroza and his right shot on the left side sees enough open net to quickly beat Blackwood. 4-0.
HINOSTROZA'S FIRST GOAL AS A MEMBER OF THE PENGUINS! pic.twitter.com/8ioXH8jL80— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
San Jose stops play to take their timeout to stem the momentum, but the damage has been done.
Sidney Crosby takes an offensive zone penalty and the Sharks get on the board. Duclair rips a shot for a power play goal to make it 4-1.
Pittsburgh quickly answers back 38 seconds after giving up the goal. Evgeni Malkin wins an offensive zone draw, Smith gets the puck off the wall and centers for Malkin. He whips it on net and the low shot somehow leaks through Blackwood. 5-1
Can't stop, won't stop. pic.twitter.com/thDRVSCYY7— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
Sensing the blood in the water, 15 seconds later the Penguins go full Harlem Globetrotters on the Sharks. Crosby is in clean but opts to drop a pass for Kris Letang instead. Letang has an easy backhand finish and it’s 6-1 and the end of Blackwood’s night.
Vintage play by Letang and Crosby to celebrate Sid's 1200th game! pic.twitter.com/xqFrZUf7XN— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 5, 2023
Rookie goalie Magnus Chrona comes in, but fares no better. Pittsburgh’s fourth line gets a 3-on-1 rush, Acciari shoots and Matt Nieto punches in the rebound. 7-1.
In case you needed a recap:— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
Acciari 1A pic.twitter.com/EgxbPosh6q
Shots 17-8 Pens as they blow the game open.
First minute, more of the same with Rust scoring from in front. 8-1.
Fun fact: Bryan Rust has scored six goals and eight assists in 11 career games vs. San Jose. pic.twitter.com/PPNMh2hqgQ— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
The Pens get a power play and call off the dogs, playing their third and fourth lines.
SJ gets a power play and scores. 8-2.
Jacob MacDonald on the power play!— JD Young (@MyFryHole) November 5, 2023
8-2 Pens pic.twitter.com/Djb9NsGlCs
Pittsburgh gets a power play and put their second line out there. Malkin slams it home from in front for his second of the night. 9-2.
Guentzel decides to do about the same by scoring his second of the night from right in front to put up the 10-spot.
Two goals for Smith.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 5, 2023
Two goals for Malkin.
Two goals for Guentzel.
...and a big congratulations on your first NHL point, Ryan Shea! pic.twitter.com/C6aghzjRVz
Finally the game ends before any more damage can be done.
- Have to feel for the Sharks, they are b-a-double d BAD in every way right now. But the smallest of kudos to the Pens for handling business and doing exactly what they should while playing a hapless opponent to jump out early and make it drama-free to secure a victory that they badly needed.
- Tough way for Magnus Chrona to make his NHL debut, coming in cold. The 23-year old was a four year player for the University of Denver and only recently called up due to injury to Kaapo Kahkonen. On one hand, not much pressure down 6-1, on the other hand, lots of pressure to get thrown into the fire for a team out-scored 16-2 in their previous 90 minutes.
- Things are so bad in San Jose, Mike Hoffman got benched mid-game for defenseman Jacob MacDonald to play wing on the team’s top line. That’s...not how NHL teams function. The Sharks are an NHL team in name alone at this point.
- 10 goals but none for Rickard Rakell. Shame he couldn’t use this game to get on the board, but so it goes. Did hit a post at one point and fired six shots on goal so maybe they’re just getting saved up for a night when its needed.
- Only Pittsburgh skaters who dressed didn’t record a point. Can you name them? (Answer below)
- Odd little wrinkle with Crosby only getting a single point in a 10-goal night for the team and his linemates end up with five (Rust) and four (Guentzel).
- Scoreless Pens on the night: all three members of the third line; Lars Eller, Radim Zohorna and Drew O’Connor. Even Ryan Shea got in on the act with his first career NHL point assisting on one of the many goals.
It isn’t often in the NHL that teams get a night off and the opportunity to pad their personal stats, but then again it isn’t often to face an opponent as weak as this incarnation of the Sharks are right now. The Pens badly needed a win tonight and ran up the score to show that they are a league above at least one team.