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Recap: Perron puts away Penguins with hat trick, Pittsburgh falls 7-4

Ex-Penguin David Perron scores a hat trick to shift the game to the Detroit Red Wings. The Pens drop another one they might stand to regret

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports


It’s a happy return for the Penguins to welcome back Jeff Petry to the lineup. Some new faces in right wing places greet Casey DeSmith as he makes his third straight start.

The home Detroit Red Wings enter the game with the following lines and lineup.

First period

Sloppy start for Pittsburgh, Chad Ruhwedel gets beat on a deke and Mark Friedman has to clean it up and takes the game’s first penalty as a result. Detroit can’t take advantage, though they come close when old friend Olli Maatta strikes the post with a shot.

Soon after getting out of the sin bin, Friedman’s going right back for another minot after taking Dylan Larkin into the boards. Larkin hits the cross-bar but can’t score, the penalty almost expired and Detroit finally gets their reward. Austin Czarnik passes the puck right through Ruhwedel and Jonatan Berggren shoots from in front. The puck leaks through DeSmith and doesn’t even hit the back of the net but does trickle over the goal-line. 1-0 DET.

Only 34 seconds later, the Wings strike again. P.O. Joseph and Jake Guentzel aren’t on the same page on a breakout and it ends up going back to Moritz Seider. The defender shoots from the point and it hits off Andrew Copp and something else too, leaving DeSmith with no chance. 2-0 Red Wings.

Pittsburgh gets their chance at a power play, with Czarnik getting the gate for holding. Guentzel puts one quick shot that Alex Nedeljkovic stops but don’t get much out of it.

Detroit continues their goal party when they get back to even. They get traffic in front of the net. Nicklas Lidstrom, uhh make that Gustav Lindstrom scores by snapping a shot that clicks off Domnik Kubalik in front and ends up lighting the lamp. 3-0 Detroit.

Shots are 10-9 Detroit, but that’s the only place this game is close. Rotten effort and start for the Pens.

Second period

The spark for the Pens comes from their second line. Evgeni Malkin slings a shot on goal. Nedeljkovic leaves a rebound that Rickard Rakell quickly pounces on and centers for Jason Zucker to smack it in. 3-1, Pens are on the board.

Pittsburgh starts getting to a hitting game, Drew O’Connor finishes a big check that raises the temperature a little bit. Detroit tries to respond, but Lindstrom takes a tripping call to open the door for another Pens’ power play. While the Pens are working on that power play, Malkin gets hooked and taken down, leading to 1:20 of an extended 5v3 opportunity. They quickly pick the Red Wings apart and Malkin wrists in a shot from the slot. 3-2 game.

The second group gets a chance and Jeff Carter deflects a puck. It hits the post and travels parallel to the goal line (oh no) and disappears under Nedeljkovic’s skate. Zucker is hacking at it and after review it can be determined the puck is IN.

But wait, Detroit decides to challenge the play due to Zucker pushing the goalie’s skate in for interference. The refs take a look and don’t agree with the Red Wings, good goal. 3-3 game. Coup de grace for Detroit is they also go back short-handed for the failed challenge. They kill it off, but lose their head coach in the process because the refs invite Derek Lalonde to depart the bench area for the rest of the game over his continued profane objections from the failed challenge.

Detroit fires back and DeSmith makes his best save of the game on a lateral push to deny Kubalik. Dylan Larkin gets too amped up and punches Joseph in the face after a whistle, leading to a frustration penalty for the Detroit captain. The Red Wings don’t allow much to escape anything further.

Thanks to all those penalties, it’s back to even and the Pens have reduced a road game to 20 minutes to try and take the win.

Third period

The Red Wings respond well and get some zone pressure that makes the Pens’ defending fall apart, courtesy of a sweet backhand pass from Larkin all the way across the ice to David Perron. Perron has plenty of time and space to pick and spot, and an old goal scorer like that isn’t going to miss. 4-3 DET.

But the Pens counter right back, the fourth line goes to work, Josh Archibald gets the puck down low, quickly swings out and slams home the wraparound. 4-4.

Friedman got buried into the boards from behind, was down for a bit but eventually looked OK. His pain was the Pens’ game for yet another power play. They come up empty after a Bryan Rust shot hits the post.

Rust then gets his stick up at a tough moment with 3:48 left, giving Detroit a late power play. They score in eight seconds, Perron’s second of the game slips through DeSmith low. 5-4 Red Wings.

Perron completes his hat trick with a high backhand shot that sails over DeSmith’s shoulder and oh boy. 6-4.

The Pens pull their goalie for a last ditch effort. Doesn’t work, Larkin hits an empty netter to send the fans home happy and set the final at 7-4.

Some thoughts

  • Terrible PK tonight for the Pens to collapse into a small box, allow the opponents to make whatever passes they want and then try to block shots or hope the goalie would. Way too passive.
  • Rough first period for everyone in a white sweater. Many were unnoticeable and barely involved in the play, those that stood out were for entirely bad reasons. Friedman set the tone with two penalties, the first one was somewhat understandable to scramble and attempt to shut down a scoring chance in front. The second one was a foolish move on his part. Ruhwedel on the PK didn’t pick his partner tonight up by allowing a pass right through him. Joseph’s weak clearing attempt or pass was that common Penguin miscue that pops up too much. Granlund had a 3-on-1 and weakly passed the puck right to the goalie.
  • Sullivan’s one personnel move in game was a big one, getting Granlund off the Malkin line and putting Rakell back on it. It paid immediate dividends with Rakell setting up Zucker for a goal. As I wrote, it was understandable why Sullivan wanted to spread the wealth over three lines, but it wasn’t working and right to move on from that idea quickly.
  • Granlund is like the anti-Zucker: the more you see of him, the less you want to see him out there. He tried a back pass that didn’t connect when he had a shooting lane in the second, just isn’t adding up for him right now.
  • For his part, Zucker didn’t get a point on the Carter goal, but without his pressure it might not have even been a goal in the first place. I didn’t see any interference but obviously that was right up to the line of what a player can do to affect a goalie, unless the refs simply ruled the puck was already in or going in anyways, whose to say what way NHL officiating will break. That one went in the Pens’ favor,
  • Is a 3-0 lead the new “worst lead in hockey”? Probably not, but that’s two games in a row for the Pens that it’s been 3-0, and then 3-3 in the blink of an eye. No leads are safe these days.
  • I shit you not, Dear Reader, this note was written during the second intermission: “Liking the spark and way Archibald is getting around out there. He hasn’t had a lot to stand-out lately, but watch for him to pop out here if he keeps it up”. Unfortunately I didn’t follow that up with a bet on Draft Kings, Archibald scored his third period goal soon after. Sometimes I guess you can see those things starting to bubble up. Nice for him to get a quick pay off of that note, even if a little too quick.
  • The very rare “meh” game for Crosby. Was barely noticeable, even though he played almost 24 minutes.
  • Strange game for DeSmith, he didn’t have much a chance in the first period as pucks whizzed by him. In the second period, he only saw four shots and barely had to break a sweat. So it boiled down to the third period to fairly judge him on the night. The first Perron goal? OK it happens. The second Perron goal? Can’t have that allowing five on the night and hope to win. The THIRD Perron goal? Enough already. So likely ends the “Casey DeSmith as preferred goalie” time at one game.
  • And while the stink eye will be on DeSmith for this ending, don’t over-look Rust hitting the post when the game was tied 4-4, then taking a penalty that led to Detroit’s late go-ahead goal. Almost nothing he’s doing these days is working out favorably.
  • Detroit only scored 22 total goals in the 11 post-deadline games before tonight. Hung seven on the Pens in one outing. That’s really bad.

Well, of all the hockey games, this definitely was one of them. The Pens will try again at home on Thursday.