The Penguins get Chad Ruhwedel back into the lineup and send P.O Joseph back to scratch territory, other lines remain the same, Tristan Jarry gets the net for the fifth straight game.
They meet a familiar looking foe, with the Ducks using a very similar lineup to when these teams met just eight days ago.
Choppy start, Pittsburgh ices the puck a few times early and Lars Eller takes down a Duck to offer the first power play to Anaheim. The Pens kill it off.
Pittsburgh strikes first, Eller takes the puck towards the net, his shot attempt is blocked but a fortunate bounce sends it to Radim Zohorna. Zohorna is out of space but banks the puck off of John Gibson and it sputters into the net. 1-0.
BIG Z IS GOING DUCK HUNTING!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 8, 2023
Two of Zohorna's three goals this season were scored against the Anaheim Ducks. pic.twitter.com/HH0qr9F2HO
Jarry stands strong for the rest of the period, going into battle mode to punch away a puck that could have turned into a rebound after stopping the initial stop. Nice early play from the netminder.
Shots in the first go 14-7 Anaheim.
Just in case you weren’t able to stay up late and are catching up in the morning, that’s a sense of what you missed in the first half of this game. Not a ton of flow or rhythm, but not a bad road strategy by Pittsburgh to keep things tight.
The Pens get their first power play chance with 9:47 left in the middle frame after Reilly Smith is tripped down. Rickard Rakell fed Evgeni Malkin for a great shot before the power play but Gibson stuck with the lateral pass. The power play only lasts 14 seconds as Malkin tripped a Duck after making a power move to the net on a fairly weak call.
Malkin at this point is engaged and enraged like only he can be upon getting out of the box. He drops Alex Killorn with a big hit and then gets Mason McTavish to pull him down while those two do battle and Pittsburgh is back to the power play. Rakell gets the best chance with the second group, but no dice after another nice Gibson save.
Eller heads back to the penalty box for a second time on the game on a hooking call, the Pens’ PK stands tall again.
Shortly after the penalty ends, the night gets spicy. After having a very quiet period, Jarry is bumped by the backside of Adam Henrique and the puck pops him to split his eyebrow. Bleeding a lot, Jarry gets off the ice and Magnus Hellberg is unexpectedly thrown into the game.
Tristan Jarry has gone to the Penguins' locker room after this play pic.twitter.com/O3hJ2TWlL8— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) November 8, 2023
Until those last two minutes and the Jarry injure it was a masterful period by the Pens with a 17-7 shot edge. They couldn’t extend their lead but had everything buttoned up.
Hellberg remains in the net after the break with no signs of Jarry coming back to the bench area.
The Ducks make a push, they nearly sweep a puck in past Hellberg then a deflected shot hits the post and stays out. Anaheim pins the Pittsburgh second line and third pair in their own end for almost two minutes but can’t get the equalizer.
Late in the game McTavish gets a chance from in tight but Hellberg keeps the puck out.
Pittsburgh playing smart but simple in a shell to get pucks out when they can and keep milking the clock. Anaheim pulls Gibson for an extra attacker with 2:00 left.
The Pens get the puck back after Marcus Pettersson wins a puck off the wall and Noel Acciari appears ices the game with 55.6 seconds left on an empty net goal. The play is stopped for an official review and the goal is taken away because Jake Guentzel was off-side.
Anaheim uses their timeout with 35 seconds to go. Sidney Crosby keeps his point streak going by lifting a puck to the sky from the middle of the ice that drops perfectly in. 2-0 final.
- Nothing fancy but plenty effective about the first goal by Zohorna. Good job by the third line to get to the net, and then good things can happen. It’s no coincidence that all three of Zohorna’s goals this year have come from in tight to the crease, he’s going to those areas and getting rewarded.
- Crosby left the bench in the first period for a bit and missed a shift sitting on the bench in the second getting his skate worked on. Just a stray observation but one thing about all of Sid’s bugaboos and using what he uses (Colby Armstrong on the broadcast pointed out the captain’s skates aren’t the modern blade setup to pop out for easy replacement) tends to mean more in-game repairs. Or maybe we just notice it more since his every move will be seen and closely monitored.
- Rakell is snakebit right now. He had some good looks and quality hard shots on net, but they just aren’t going in for him right now. Rakell finished the night with 4 shots on goal and 4 more attempts, which is a good sign. The only way out of a slump is to shoot through it and eventually the type of talent will come through. But it’s not working at the moment.
- The Jarry injury is very concerning right now, even before getting to the depth chart and seeing Alex Nedeljkovic on IR. Jarry’s head got jilted by an opposing player and then a puck hit him fairly hard too. We’ll see if there’s any lasting damage but that did not look good. After only playing once this month before today, Pittsburgh just began a stretch that will see 10 games in the next 19 days. It’s never a good time to lose a starting goalie but now would be an exceptionally bad time for Hellberg to be the top healthy goalie.
- It’s a double shame since Jarry was dialed in and playing some great hockey on this road trip so far. He was particularly good in the first period making a couple of clutch saves before the Pens’ shutdown Anaheim in the second. Then, boom, just like that he was out. Life comes at ya fast.
- Hellberg responded well with 11 saves in the third to preserve the shutout and game. Not an easy spot to be thrown into, but credit to him for coming through.
- It’s the first modest two-game winning streak for the Pens since the second and third games of the season. It wasn’t pretty but it counts just the same, and topping Anaheim (winners of six-straight before tonight) was no small task.
The Pens stay in the LA area for one more game against the Kings on Thursday night. The bigger question out of this one is what the status of their starting netminder will be in the future.