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Penguins/Canucks Recap: Elias out Pettersson’s Marcus; Pens pick up point in OT loss to Vancouver

Elias Pettersson scores two goals for Vancouver, one more than Marcus Pettersson can score for Pittsburgh. The Canucks win in OT

Vancouver Canucks v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Pregame

The Penguins go with that old, familiar lineup - which these days includes Alex Nedeljkovic in net.

The Vancouver Canucks roll into town in first place in their division, and with this group of players.

First period

Pittsburgh finds out the hard way about the hot hand of Brock Boeser when Vancouver’s leading goal scorer pots two under a minute a part in the early portion of the game.

The Canucks’ first goal comes on the rush, where they’ve been by far the NHL’s most lethal team this season and they show why. J.T. Miller makes a pass and it isn’t even a good one but Elias Pettersson shows the old ‘can’t give a good player a bad pass’ axiom taking the puck out of his skates while easily stepping around Noel Acciari. Pettersson then instantly recognizes he has the stick of Boeser to use and fires in a shot/pass that deflects in past Nedeljkovic. 1-0 VAN.

Sidney Crosby takes a tripping penalty and the Canucks basically run it back. Boeser goes towards the front with his stick on the ice. To his credit, this time Miller earns an assist with a very nice pass to play it down for Boeser to shovel into the net. 2-0 before the first TV timeout.

The Pens get their feet under them a bit, and Marcus Pettersson can’t let Elias be the only one with that surname getting on the scoresheet, so The Dragon unleashes a shot for his first goal of the season.

Vancouver responds just a minute later and before the period can end to get their two-goal lead back. Elias responds to Marcus in the Pettersson goal fest and tips in Filip Hronek’s shot. 3-1.

Frenetic opening period. The Pens didn’t have much of an answer for Vancouver’s top line and they put three on the board early. Shots are 10-9 Pittsburgh.

Second period

When the Pens take the ice, it’s Tristan Jarry in net. Nedeljkovic didn’t have much of a fighting chance on deflections from in tight, but it’s easier to change one goalie than 18 skaters, which obviously a team can’t do at all within the game. It pays off in that Jarry stops all 12 shots he sees in the period and gives the team a chance.

Pittsburgh draws within one goal, Jake Guentzel uses the wall to spring Crosby on a 2-on-1. The captain calls his own number and shoots the puck by Thatcher Demko. 3-2 game.

Quinn Hughes gets involved in the game when he accidentally clears the puck over the glass. Pittsburgh power play fails and doesn’t look too pretty along the way.

Shots are 12-10 for Vancouver, but Jarry brought new energy and some pretty saves to keep the puck out of the net and give his team a chance heading into the third.

Third period

Pittsburgh gets another power play early, but again no dice on scoring.

Lars Eller gets pissed and cross-checks a Canuck at center ice. He’s sent off for two minutes but the Pens kill it off.

Crosby gets space, dekes to the backhand and holy crap Demko robs him with the leg somehow. In the ensuing melee, Hronek holds a Penguin, Pittsburgh power play with 5:11 to go.

They can’t beat Demko and before you know it there’s 2:10 left in the game and Jarry is lifted for an extra attacker.

Pens take their timeout with a minute left for a chance for their top players to catch their breath. And it pays off! Sidney Crosby tips one from the front of the net for his second goal of the night. 3-3 game with only 28 seconds to go.

Overtime

Play goes back and forth, Erik Karlsson sets up Guentzel at the front of the net but Demko is there. If the puck even made it there at all. In a blink of an eye Pettersson (Elias that is) on the breakaway, Crosby chases down in vain. The puck slides in past Jarry as the forehand shot from the deke has just enough power to end the game. Vancouver takes the extra point.

Some thoughts

  • Tough luck night for Nedeljkovic, he didn’t have much of a chance but couldn’t keep the puck out of the net. Jarry had some better mojo to come in and play well and not have to deal with high-skill players deflecting shots from right in front of him. Had the coaches decided to start Jarry, we probably reverse the names for how it went for each netminder.
  • That might be overly dismissive of Jarry. He was really good, particularly in the second period. That left the door open for the Pens. No guarantee that would happen for any goalie on every night, but Jarry probably was fortunate his number wasn’t called to get the start.
  • Reilly Smith hasn’t been productive lately and getting plastered into the wall from behind by Nikita Zadorov and leaving the game with an injury won’t help matters. It’ll remain to be seen how long he is out, but maybe he can go away for a bit and comeback without the cold streak hanging over his head ala Rickard Rakell did earlier.
  • Elias Pettersson isn’t often mentioned around these parts in the super, super elite individual players in the league, but he should be getting more love than he is. The way he sees the ice, puck control, play recognition/anticipation and passing ability is off the charts. Every one of those elements was in Vancouver’s first goal. Four point night, in on every Vancouver goal. Huge difference-maker.
  • While Pettersson and the first line impressed in a major way, Quinn Hughes was a lot less visible than I expected (and especially with his point total and highlight reel from earlier this season). Only one game, in a long string on the road without a lot of rest, no need to read too much into it, but I expected a much bigger and more impactful game out of Hughes than what we got.
  • The PDO Canucks win on the back of Demko making a few huge saves in the last five-six minutes and elite shooting/finishing on just 29 shots. Sustainability lasts another game for them and to be fair to them, they played very well and a winning brand of hockey.
  • Really nice job by Jansen Harkins to win the puck back from a Canuck and leave it for Pettersson on Pittsburgh’s first goal. Harkins is up to four assists in the last seven games and probably as entrenched in the lineup at this point as he ever has been by generating little plays like that for extra chances. A lot of them are starting to pay off lately.
  • Crosby played 24:03 in regulation, Guentzel 23:59. Some of that on the power play isn’t taxing, but pushing for a goal meant big workloads for those guys. There’s a lot of rest coming up pretty soon, but a big game ahead on Saturday. Hopefully they still have enough energy to tap into for that one.

All things considered, getting a point from hosting Vancouver is one more than the Devils, Rangers and Islanders got this week. That’s not a bad thing at all for Pittsburgh. Crosby and Jarry pull the team to at least take a partial positive result out of a game where they were down 3-1. Could have ended up worse than that. Pens turn the page and move on to meet Carolina at their place on Saturday night.