Kris Letang is a surprise scratch from this game due to illness, which puts Mark Friedman back in the lineup.
Lined up and ready to take on the Ducks.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2023
Kris Letang is out tonight due to illness. pic.twitter.com/QHrxCRzFNB
The Quackers are bringing the following lineup to the table.
Here's who we fly with. Anthony Stolarz is out with a lower-body injury. pic.twitter.com/EVA5fwbI0k— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) February 11, 2023
The Penguins start out hot, peppering John Gibson with shots. It takes almost 10 minutes and 11 shots to get the first goal, but Pittsburgh does. Josh Archibald sets the tone by putting Kevin Shattenkirk on his wallet, and Teddy Blueger passes from behind the net back to Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Joseph wires a shot through traffic that goes off the post and in the net. There’s so many bodies in front, Joseph is slow to celebrate, not even realizing or seeing the puck go in.
Off to a P.Owerful start! pic.twitter.com/ZSzjTB31Bw— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2023
Pittsburgh goes off to the power play when rookie Mason MacTavish takes a double-minor for high-sticking Friedman. Gibson robs Crosby from in front, Jeff Carter’s stick breaks, and Jake Guentzel nails the cross-bar. Some good chances but they can’t take advantage of the opportunity.
Kasperi Kapanen sends Anaheim to their first power play of the contest. They only need two seconds to score. Adam Henrique pushes the puck forward off the faceoff past Teddy Blueger and then chips it by Brian Dumoulin to Trevor Zegras. And, yeah, it’s easy to pile on Dumoulin in front for a goal against, but there’s honestly not much that he can do about this one with the convergence of Anaheim’s skill plus the bounce of the puck. A backhander from Zegras is elevated over Casey DeSmith. 1-1 game.
Shattenkirk’s tough night continues, he trips Guentzel and then drops the glove with Friedman (he has that effect on people). But somehow before the fists can fly, Shattenkirk takes a tumble. Pittsburgh gets a power play goal, when Kapanen’s long-range pass attempt clicks off a Duck player and the deflection foils Gibson. 2-1 Pens.
HAPPY KAPPY = HAPPY PENGUINS FANS pic.twitter.com/k8blKEJv5e— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2023
Anaheim almost makes it out of the first period close, then disaster strikes. Gibson goes behind the net to retrieve the puck, but wires cross with Cam Fowler. Kapanen sneakily pokes it away from the both of them and Jeff Carter might be old and slowing down, but he can still unwrap a present. 3-1 Pens, with Carter getting a gift.
Three words: BIG. JEFF. CARTER. pic.twitter.com/ThkaF7MBBK— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2023
Shots in the first are 25-8 in favor of Pittsburgh. Our game preview attempted to warn of how bad Anaheim is defensively, but they’re proving to be more than could even be predicted. Shot attempts are 37-9 Pens. Power play time didn’t help, but this one is getting ugly early.
DeSmith makes a couple of nice stops of his own to get in the game where he hasn’t had a lot of action as the second moves on.
Both teams exchange some looks, with Gibson doing his level best to keep it respectable, but the Pens’ pressure gets to him again. Evgeni Malkin feeds Joseph who has room to step up so he does. Joseph lifts a puck short-side high on the blocker to fire another puck in and it’s a 4-1 game.
Joseph before tonight: Two goals on the season.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2023
Joseph in Anaheim: Two goals TONIGHT! pic.twitter.com/MtWncWV6XZ
Earlier in the second, Zegras expressed his dissatisfaction with an off-side call by repeatedly pointing with his arm and mocking the refs to show they were onside. On another off-side whistle, Zegras kept playing a little longer than he should have and Sidney Crosby wasn’t feeling it. Crosby went out of his way to put a little bump on Zegras, in a nice but clear signal to reign it back a bit, kid. No penalties came of it, and deep down the officials probably had to have an internal laugh about the veteran policing the game in a non-threatening way.
Sidney Crosby did NOT like Trevor Zegras taking a shot after the Ducks were whistled for an offside. pic.twitter.com/RMhVE0NEgr— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 11, 2023
It was all systems go in the middle frame, shots were 18-10 PIT and expanded to an eye-popping 43-18 overall through 40 minutes. The Pens in cruise control up by three.
John Klingberg pulls on Brock McGinn’s jersey to give the Pens’ a fourth power play. Despite some zone time they come up empty.
Jason Zucker gets a breakaway, tries backhand but Gibson stops him.
Malkin gets point 1,200, calling for the puck and getting it. Geno kinda looked like MacKinnon did the other night against the Pens, darting around the zone while the defenders were standing and watching. Malkin finds Bryan Rust, who backhands one in. 5-1.
Rusty looking out for Geno's milestone puck pic.twitter.com/mmRHyhA7ws— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2023
Guentzel is hounding Dmitri Kulikov and it pays off. Crosby picks off a pass and gives it back to Guentzel, who fires to the far-side and beats Gibson to make it 6-1.
Goals on goals on goals. pic.twitter.com/4YOMhfhd7g— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2023
The Ducks don’t want to go away totally, they jump on a puck and Mason MacTavish’s quick shot seems to catch DeSmith by surprise (can’t blame him for not seeing much action) and the score is 6-2.
Mac-T rips one top corner! pic.twitter.com/JFbr1wt0O2— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) February 11, 2023
Klingberg steps up in the zone and blows a high shot past DeSmith. Usually, you’d want the goalie to stop that one, but up big who cares.
Dumoulin goes to the penalty box late, but it doesn’t amount to anything and time runs out.
- It was great to see Joseph find the back of the net for his third and fourth goals of the season. The Penguins have far too many defensemen that are virtually no threat to score goals, always nice when someone from the blueline can chip in.
- Anaheim’s so bad, it’s tough to put a lot of analysis in this. But, let’s point out that the Penguins did NOT make it easy on themselves when these teams met a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh. They were a lot better in that regard tonight, which does say something about coming out strong and taking care of business.
- A couple of very long streaks ending with Blueger getting a point (an assist, naturally) for his first in 15 games. Carter recorded a point for his first in the last 11 contests. And Kapanen scored his second away goal of the season. Progress from the bottom of the order. On one hand, if you can’t score against Anaheim, literally who can you score against? But on the other hand, at this point we’re not going to be too picky about those guys getting on the scoresheet against anyone.
- It was also kinda hilarious in a “welp, that’s hockey!” way to see Gibson robbing Crosby, Rakell and Malkin on quality scoring chances all night long, only to see pucks deflect off his own guys, and go through traffic and get turned over to give up some cheesy goals to unlikely scorers. (Note: it’s probably not that hilarious to Gibson, but if he can’t laugh he’s bound to go insane these days).
- Something about Dumoulin is different lately. He’s using his legs a lot more and not hesitating to step up with the puck. The sequence for Joseph’s second goal began with Dumo jumping ahead and skating a puck with authority. It’s a little thing and he didn’t get an assist but for as poorly as Dumoulin looked at earlier points of the season, he does look rejuvenated and is handling himself really well right now. Not saying he’s 2017 Dumo or anything, but for as much flack as he’s caught for poor performances this year, he actually might be raising his game as of recently.
- A two assist night gets Malkin to the round number of 1,200 in his career. Loved how immediately after scoring the goal that Rust’s first thought was to point at the puck to make sure it got retrieved and saved. Very conscientious and selfless move that says a lot about Rust that he was not being consumed about scoring an NHL goal (which is pretty cool!) but having the presence to instantly be aware it meant something bigger.
- Nice to see Crosby extend his point-streak to nine games with an otherwise meaningless late assist. Got Guentzel on the board too, which is never a bad thing. The first line was rockin’ and rollin’, if not for Gibson making some great stops they easily could have had a few more.
- The Pens helped Gibson set an Anaheim franchise record with 53 saves in a game. He was under attack all night long, it’s not an easy job being the Ducks’ goalie these days.
- Per Pens PR (say that five times fast), 59 shots also marked a Pittsburgh franchise record for a road game.
A good team against a bad team with predictable results tonight. The Penguins didn’t have much issues at all in a stress-free type of game to take the win and move on. But they play again tomorrow, and against a much, much better team in the LA Kings, so we’ll see what the challenge holds. For now, the boys have to be feeling pretty good about the performance in this one as they roll on.