Pittsburgh is rolling with the same lines as yesterday and the change in net to get Tristan Jarry back in.
The Rangers are sloppy to start things out, taking three minor penalties in the first 5:20 of the game. The latter two penalties give the Penguins a prolonged 5v3 powerplay and they make it count. Rickard Rakell finds the soft spot and Sidney Crosby finds Rakell with a pass and boom the puck is in the net. 1-0 Pens.
First on the board yesterday.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 12, 2023
First on the board today.
Rakell is off to some strong starts! pic.twitter.com/r9E0FTEPwd
After the goal, the Penguins flat-line for a bit and New York’s fourth line gets the puck in deep and a couple cracks down low. It pays off with Barclay Goodrow smacking one in. 1-1.
The tying goal wakes the Pens up, as you can see from the Moneypuck expected goals tracking. They bombard goalie Jaroslav Halak from down low. He’s up to the challenge and keeps the game tied through 20.
Shots are 15-6 Pittsburgh, but the score is even.
Jason Zucker is back at it again with his daily goal. Zucker keeps the forecheck alive by gloving down a clearing attempt and the Pens get back to work on the grind. Brian Dumoulin jumps in on support and Zucker takes Dumoulin’s usual spot on the left point and gets the puck. Zucker fires the puck on net, gets a fortunate bounce off of Mika Zibanejad and the puck floats in the net. 2-1 Pens.
Lots more action for Pittsburgh but they leave it close when Mikael Granlund’s stick gets up in the offensive zone to give NYR their first power play of the game with 7:26 to go in the second period. Jarry and the PKers hold strong, despite a ton of zone time and Chris Kreider missing a fully open net chance.
Jacob Trouba puts a big (possibly late!) hit on Alex Nylander in the middle of the ice and the Penguins are sensitive to that scumbag so Zucker and Evgeni Malkin go after him. Trouba breaks his stick cross-checking Zucker but it’s only Malkin who heads to the box to give the Rangers their second power play of the game.
On that power play, Marcus Pettersson and Chris Kreider come together after the whistle. Jan Rutta was tied up with an opponent and it looked like Josh Archibald was putting a bulldog choke on Zibanajed. Pettersson and Kreider get matching minors. Gotta love playoff-style intensity.
Pittsburgh kills off their penalty time and makes it to the intermission up by a goal.
Shots in the very fun second are 11-10 Pens, and 26-16 Pittsburgh overall.
Time is ticking away and then Vincent Trocheck changes the game with some physicality. He cleanly puts Malkin on his wallet with a huge hit in the middle of the ice. Malkin follows that up by later drilling Trocheck in the corner. Then as the puck is going the other way, Trocheck launches into the back of Malkin and the refs decide to let it go. Amazing. Chris Kreider finishes the rush with a goal to tie the game. 2-2.
Some hits exchanged between Vincent Trocheck and Evgeni Malkin, the third one coming right before the Rangers tying goal. pic.twitter.com/n4tpcCG0yy— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 12, 2023
As even the TNT announcers said, the Pens got boned on that one. Sometimes it happens.
Both teams push for the regulation win, Alex Nylander has a chance to write his story with a 2-on-1 later but fails to score so we head to extra time.
NY holds the puck for the first minute, but Malkin gets on the ice and bulls over Artemi Panarin. Panarin takes down Malkin and holy hell the refs call a penalty this time.
The Pens use their timeout to give their big dogs a breather. With the 4v3 they surgically set it up and Kris Letang blasts a shot from long-range that hits the net. Pens win, Pens win!
- Mike Sullivan is fond of saying Kris Letang has “the heart of a lion” at times when Letang shrugs off adverse situations and fires back. It’s hard not to paint Zucker in that same way. he got high-sticked, cross-checked just keeps going. Tons of shots and aggressive as ever on the forecheck, it’s an awesome thing to simply observe his shifts these days.
- The schedule is getting saucy with three Pens/Rangers games in the next week and this one was the perfect primer for some bad feelings to grow. Trouba again finds himself sparking off the bad feelings in this one. The hit itself probably wasn’t that bad but more the guy who did it clearly isn’t going to have any benefit of the doubt.
- As the TNT graphic showed, the Rangers are among the best comeback teams in the NHL and, of course, you probably don’t need to know that the Pens have blown more leads than almost anyone this year. The game stayed close enough to not feel safe and then thanks to some ref shenanigans, the Rangers got a cheesy goal to tie it up and take a point in the standings. Luckily it won’t be a blown lead that results in a loss, but any time up late by one (or even two) you can’t be faulted as a fan for just waiting to see how the other shoe is going to drop. Today it came in an unexpected way.
- This OT result hurts Pittsburgh’s chances to climb over the Rangers. At this point the win is most important, but in the big picture it’s not as satisfying a result as it feels in the moment.
- It wasn’t an easy win, Rakell left the game in the third period after taking a shot off the hand and did return. Dmitry Kulikov blocked a shot low to the leg and also was knocked out of the game as a result. Of the two, Kulikov would be the easier to replace moving forward. The Pens have a ton of games coming up in the coming 7-10-14 days, it wouldn’t be ideal to lose bodies for that stretch. Rakell came back, but we’ve often seen players gut out games on adrenaline so we’ll see if there’s any lasting damage.
- Tristan Jarry wasn’t A story in this game, but it was quietly an important game and win for him to earn after giving up four goals in each of his last three starts. Jarry did his part in this one — and this is the first time in a while that you can say that. Nice for him and hopefully something to build on for an important stretch in the future where the Pens are going to need Jarry to be sharp and he’ll probably start the next 4-5 games if all goes well.
- We barely ever complain about reffing here, but the non-call on Trocheck was egregious. The infuriating part is that the NHL officiating is all situational. In the third periods, if you study trends, they call far less penalties than earlier in the games. There’s something positive to be said about “letting ‘em play” with some hits back and forth, but at some point the officials have to take control of games for obvious infractions. Neither the first Trocheck hit on Malkin nor Malkin’s hit on Trocheck were penalties - though they both raised the temperature on the ice. A late hit from behind away from the play? Come on man.
Overall, all’s well that ends well and the Pens improve to 3-0-1 on what will serve to be a playoff-affirming homestand. One more game to go against the Canadiens to run that home record up even further before two big rematches against these same Rangers this week.