The Penguins lose the services of Reilly Smith (as expected) and a more recent development when Noel Acciari is too banged up to play. Colin White makes his Pittsburgh debut as a result and Radim Zohorna is back too after five games on healthy scratch island.
(Pretend the graphic says White instead of Acciari, though Jeff Carter played center and White filled Carter’s typical place on the right wing of the fourth line)
Almost time for hockey. pic.twitter.com/iDXf2E2jwp— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 13, 2024
The opposing Carolina Hurricanes are bringing the following lineup to the party.
Bad luck early for the Penguins, a Brett Pesce shot hits the hand of Lars Eller and flutters into the net on the changed trajectory. 1-0 Carolina 6:12 into the start of the game.
Pittsburgh puts themselves in a bad spot, a low percentage attempted exit by Chad Ruhwedel is easily picked off. Then Ryan Graves can’t defend Jordan Martinook’s two chances from in front of the net. 2-0 Hurricanes. If Martinook needed a third chance, Graves probably would have allowed that too, but it popped into the net.
Pittsburgh probably sees the their most effective and useful power play of the night when it ends after 10 seconds due to an Erik Karlsson slash. That quick end at least spared the frustration of what was to follow for the Pens with the man advantage.
Shots are 16-10 Carolina after one. It looked like the Pens might get knocked out of this one early.
The story of the second period was the three power play chances that Pittsburgh had, including some 5v3 time when Carolina got caught with too many men in a preposterously bad line change. It was all for naught and the Pens spent far more time in the neutral or defensive zone than even setup looking for offense. Let alone getting much.
The Pens took a 16-8 shot edge in the second and settled down to at least not get blown out, but were mild and unimpressive offensively through 40, with zero goals to show for it.
Antti Raanta made a great save on Sidney Crosby after a nice setup from Jake Guentzel.
Antti Raanta. Jaw-dropper.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) January 14, 2024
On Sidney Crosby, no less! pic.twitter.com/xl0fotCBQt
Undaunted, the Pens got a very similar looking play but finally hit the back of the net. This time the roles were reversed with Crosby feeding Guentzel. Jake finished for his 19th goal of the year.
More of this. We need more of this.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 14, 2024
Jake Guentzel has 20 points (9G-11A) in 21 career games against the Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/E3R0ayFPgz
The Pens keep going but the clock was their enemy, ticking down against them. Guentzel made a high hit on the rush and went to the box with about seven minutes left that only served to take two more minutes off the clock in the comeback effort.
Tristan Jarry is pulled for the extra attacker, and wouldn’t you know it, Pittsburgh finds a late goal. Erik Karlsson shoots from deep, Raanta leaves a juicy rebound and Rust is there to collect and deposit into the yawning cage at a sharp angle with only 52.7 seconds left. The Pens tie the game and send it to overtime.
The Pens tie it with less than a minute left pic.twitter.com/TRTfk8J8d3— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) January 14, 2024
The one point would be all the Pens would get. Crosby made a late line change that gave Carolina a 3v2 rush and Malkin couldn’t get back in the play when Teuvo Teravainen dropped the pass back to Pesce who fired his second goal of the night by Jarry.
Pesce's second of the night and it's the OT winner pic.twitter.com/ZxojzuThBh— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) January 14, 2024
- Looking for something, anything, Mike Sullivan went back to Bryan Rust with Guentzel-Crosby. It’s the easy “break glass in case of emergency” fix for the lines and worked here when Rust made a very nice keep of the puck at the blueline and got it down low to Crosby for him to setup Guentzel’s goal.
- Carolina is a team that will throw any and everything at the net, the kings of the shot-based possession and that was on display. Great night for Tristan Jarry to keep his tam in the game and give them a fighting chance.
- Between Brendan Lemieux, Michal Bunting and their general attitude, the Canes have become an unlikeable bunch fairly quickly. Maybe they needed some snarl to take the next step. Even Jordan Staal was piledriving Guentzel onto his own goalie while Raanta was already doing the splits (didn’t seem very wise).
- Blink and you might have missed Zohorna, who only played 3:58 in the game. Valtteri Puustinen was on the ice for both goals against and only played 6:39 himself. Add in the new guy Colin White understandably not getting a lot of ice time (7:21) and that meant relying on three lines and nine forwards for the most part.
- Thought this was one of Karlsson’s worst games as a Penguin. Skating slow, looking like he has little confidence in what he’s seeing and the decisions he’s making with the puck...Then he goes and starts the play on the game-tying goal. The more you see of Karlsson, the more he’s kinda got some Kessel in him where for most the game you might curse him or wonder what the hell he’s doing out there, then he goes and makes a key play that makes up for it.
- Similarly, it didn’t look like Rust had been very impactful or good since coming back from injury six games ago. That changed in a big way in the third period as well. All he needed was getting back on the top line.
- The power play blues are back and in full effect for the Pens. Ugly showing for that group yet again.
- Funny enough (is it funny?) Pesce’s shot in OT was the first and only shot on goal in overtime, coming 1:41 into it. Goes to show how vital controlling and possessing the puck in the 3v3 format is, almost has fully become a game of attrition to tire the other team out and then usually catch them in an odd-man break to gain an edge.
- Some Bob Errey math sayz 2 OTL in the last two games = 1 win, at least in the standings. Getting one win’s worth of points against a good VAN team and @Carolina isn’t so bad in the bigger perspective.
PSA: The next game against the Kraken has been moved up to 1:00pm Monday (original start time was 6pm) to not conflict with the Steelers playoff game. See you then!